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Sunday, 14 April 2013

In the clouds

This is a review of Cloud Atlas (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


14 April 2013

This is a review of Cloud Atlas (2012)

* Spoiler warning : assumes a knowledge of the film, so best not read without one *

Follows on from A cloudy prospect


As a re-viewing reminded me, there are even clouds in Warner Bros' corporate title, and there are probably many more than the other ones that I did spot, which include the striking ones reflected in water (impossibly and Dalíesquely) on the beach when Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) fatefully first meets Dr Henry Goose (Tom Hanks)

Clouds are transient things, a fact that Hamlet exploits (and even artist Alexander Cozens in his illustrated treatise, A New Method of Landscape), but I do not yet know what role they play in David Mitchell's novel, on which this film is based.

Yet there are, just as clouds pass overhead, communications between :

1849 and 1936 - Adam Ewing's journal (read by Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw)), plus the effects on history of Tilda's (Doona Bae's) and his joining the abolitionists

1936 and 1973 - Robert Frobisher's compositions (heard by Luisa Rey (Halle Berry)), and letters to Rufus Sixsmith (James D'Arcy) (read by Luisa Ray, and passed to the mother of Megan), and it is through Sixsmith that Rey becomes aware of the report on the Hydra reactor at Swannekke, plus the effect of her exposing the attempt to discredit that form of power by allowing a nuclear catastrophe

1973 and 2012 - What Isaac Sachs (Tom Hanks) was writing on the plane could not physically have survived its being blown-up, but his words seem to resonate; in 1973, Luisa Rey was friends with Javier Gomez (Brody Nicholas Lee), and, in 2012, Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) is reading Gomez' script, heading north on the train; later, Cavendish writes of his experiences at Acacia House, and a film is made at some point (Tom Hanks)

2012 and 2144 - Yoona-939 (Xun Zhou) shows Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae) a device on which a short segment of the film based on Cavendish's writing is looping; a recording of Sonmi's broadcast, and the account that she gives in captivity (taken by James D'Arcy), form part of the archive on her

2144 and 2321 - A venerated form of some of Sonmi's words is kept sacred by the Abbess (Susan Sarandon), and read to Zachry (Tom Hanks) when he consults her, and Sonmi's image is represented both in the valleys, and on Mount Seoul

In short, a series of nested what ifs




I touched previously on what significance 'the doubling' of parts might have : in fact, if IMDb is to be trusted*, six actors play a part in all six time-strands, although those of Hugh Grant, though instrumental, are minor ones (and some of those played by, say, Doona Bae, are far less significant than that of Sonmi-451), which is surely no accident.



To be continued



End-notes

* Since, as seems accurate, Jim Broadbent is not credited in that from 1973.


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