"Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future." This is at the heart of Cloud Atlas. This science fiction film written and directed by The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer; adapted from the 2004 novel of the same name by David Mitchell. The film has multiple plots set across six different eras, which Mitchell described as "a sort of pointillist mosaic". The official synopsis describes it as "an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution".
Filmmaker Tom Tykwer revealed in January 2009 his intent to adapt the novel and said he was working on a screenplay with the Wachowskis, who optioned the novel. By June 2010, Tykwer had asked actors Natalie Portman, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, James McAvoy, and Ian McKellen to star in Cloud Atlas. By April 2011, the Wachowskis joined Tykwer in co-directing the film. In the following May, with Hanks and Berry confirmed in their roles, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, and Jim Broadbent also joined the cast. Actor Hugh Grant joined the cast days before the start of filming. During four years of development, the project met difficulties securing financial support; it was eventually produced with a $102 million budget provided by independent sources, making it one of the most expensive independent films of all time. Production began in September 2011 at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany. Tykwer and the Wachowskis filmed parallel to each other using separate camera crews. Although they shot scenes all three together when permitted by the schedule, the Wachowskis mostly directed the 19th-century story and the two set in the future, while Tykwer directed the stories set in the 1930s, the 1970s, and 2012. Tykwer said that the three directors planned every segment of the film together in pre-production, and continued to work closely together through post-production. Warner Bros. Pictures representatives argued they were happy with the film's 172-minute running time, after previously stating that it should not exceed 150 minutes.
Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Jim Broadbent lead an ensemble cast that includes Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D'Arcy, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant. Because of the nature of casting on the film, the directors told the actors to think of their roles as a "genetic strain" rather than a series of individual parts, with actions in one story-line affecting another. Despite the cast gave unique and varied performances throughout the film, one could not help in watching some of the performances fade in certain parts and think some of the characters could have benefitted from more development as those characters were underdeveloped and/or underused.
Some of the scenarios border on illogical, but the diverse characters and the creative intersections between their stories keep Cloud Atlas compelling.
Simon says Cloud Atlas receives: