Cloud Atlas (2012)

Cloud Atlas (2012), directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis.

Six intercut stories, three in the past, one around "now", and two in the future. Exciting, poignant, tragic, funny: the human condition made vivid. Heart-wrenching at the climaxes.

Each time period has a "special" character, magically linked to characters in the other times. It is an ensemble cast with each actor playing many roles. Six actors get to play the special character once.

This is ambitious filmmaking emphasizing connections and correspondences. We have strong intimations of stepping outside of time and realizing that all life is One.

If we unravel the story and sort everything in time order:

I think it would be a mistake to present the story in linear order like that. Shuffling the plots and meeting the actors again and again as different characters drives home the connections between and timelessness of everyone's soul.

The unifying theme of all the stories is their resistance to a certain type of evil that says "the weak are meat and the strong do eat". Each time features a struggle against that sort of domination.

It's 3 hours but the mix of stories and the ensemble cast give us something to watch. Cutting between six stories keeps the narrative moving. Reusing the actors emphasizes the theme of recurrence, sad as that may be in some cases.


Available on Blu-ray. The subtitles help with the Valleysman lingo of post-apocalyptic Hawaii.