Movie Review: Cloud Atlas

20 Jun



It’s a pity about Cloud Atlas, the movie is incredibly good, but it gets rather divisive reviews and audiences don’t seem to have embraced it so far as I can tell.  I’m not really going to go on about plot points too much, just know that there are a half dozen interconnected stories that interweave with each other and the movie shows how actions echo over large distances of time, sometimes completely changing as time passes.

I’ve read a lot of griping about the “revelation” in the end, that “everything is connected.”  And that if that’s the point, the movie is an empty exercise in snobbery.  However that isn’t the point–honestly the viewer knows that everything is connected within 5 minutes of the film, the realization is a revelation to the characters, but that doesn’t mean that revelation is the one that’s meant for the viewers, who get a god-like perspective of the movements of 500 years.    To say “everything is connected” is the point of Cloud Atlas would be like saying that darkness is the point of The Shining or the force is the point of Star Wars.  In all those movies those elements are there, but are those things the “point” of those films?  I’d hope you’d agree with me that the answer would be no.

This film is the most lyrical I have seen in quite some time, which means if you want an AB plot where a character has a goal and has to overcome obstacles on their way to a goal, this is not the story for you.  Cloud Atlas is not about the growth of characters (in fact most of the characters remain rather static) but the passage of lives through time–we see how people’s legacies get built, and how those legacies have power beyond what they are capable of comprehending.  We see lives get turned into myths and back again–the scope of this film is so wide that the mind can hardly comprehend it all.

We see the concept of eternal return.  I don’t particularly think that by using the same actors in different settings the filmmakers are trying to say anything about reincarnation.  It’s more that they’re showing how the same types show up again and again–you’ll see repeating all through this movie different items and people (a green gem, a birthmark, an actor, some clothes), and I see it as more of the concept of eternal return, that we as a people act out the same stories over and over again with endless variation.   That the past may not be as far as it seems, that it may be as close as the next room, that nothing ever ends.

And THAT is a philosophical point that has some meat on it.    Honestly, I think everybody should watch this film twice.  It’s that good.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: