dreaming / scriptwriting / storytelling / write here write now / writing

A WRITER’S VIEW OF THE CLOUD ATLAS

Truth is singular. Its versions are mistruths.

A good piece of writing is pretty much like the German drama and science fiction film Cloud Atlas, which stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, James D’Arcy, and more, each in a variety or roles.

My favorite of all the actors is Jim Sturgess and Doona Bae, although without Ben Wishaw or Jim Broadbent or anybody in the cast, in any of the roles assigned to them, the story would not have been as rich in texture and as moving in context.

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[Doona Bae as Sonmi-451 and Jim Sturgess as Hae-Joo Chang in the subplot An Orison of Sonmi-451, set in 2144 in “New Seoul.” Below: Jim Broadbent as Vyvyan Ayrs and Ben Whishaw as Robert Frobisher in the subplot Letters from Zedelghem, set in 1936 in Cambridge, England and Edinburgh, Scotland]

You could say that Cloud Atlas is a collection of six interwoven stories, but it is, to me, only one story and that, as I see it, is the point of the film: that everything leads to another and everything is drawn from another. It is almost a cliche — that we are one, that all life is a complex study of interconnectedness — but not in the way Cloud Atlas tells it and not in the way the three directors, Lana and Andy Wachowsky and Tom Tykwer, have pieced it all together.

Maybe it’s the work of the editor, maybe it’s the work of the directors and the actors, but, like life, like every life, including yours and mine, it really is the work of all. The transitions are as seamless as day turning into night or night turning into day and one thing, say a tribesman’s guilt in some post-apocalyptic Hawaiian island in 2321 (Sloosha’s Crossin’ and Ev’rythin’ After), connects to another, say a lawyer’s racial awakening aboard a ship on the South Pacific Ocean in 1849 (The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing), in a progression as natural as sea meeting sky or water hogging land.

JIM BROADBENT AND BEN WISHAW

All writers will benefit from watching Cloud Atlas, where, like every detail in the interweaving of individual lives from across time and space, the stories are all different and yet the same. The viewer remains alert throughout the film for fear of missing out on an important clue or development, but in the end realizes that the story is not the sum of its parts and so gets it all, like an epiphany, without having to keep connecting the dots.

How you say it is important, which is why the cast and crew took $102 million and over four years to do it right, but it is not at all as important as what you have to say.

I have not yet read the book, from which Cloud Atlas has been adapted, David Mitchell‘s 2004 novel of the same title, but I do hope that the filmmakers’ interpretation drew from it not only plot and treatment but an entire vision and a point of view.

I believe death is only a door. One closes, and another opens. If I were to imagine heaven, I would imagine a door opening. And he would be waiting for me there.

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4 thoughts on “A WRITER’S VIEW OF THE CLOUD ATLAS

  1. I’m glad to find someone who shares my view that this was indeed one story that was just manifesting in diff ways and my belief in life that all events in life are related to each other. Well that is just a very simplified way of putting it, but I do like breaking things into its most basic form, much like how we were taught to solve algebra. (No, I don’t really like maths but I believe we need it to make decisions) Thankful I stumbled upon this bec I enjoyed Cloud Atlas. 🙂

  2. Thank you for your thoughts. It’s strange that I get a grip of how life works and then I lose it, as in I sometimes find myself literally chasing it in my mind, just like the master composer in the movie struggling to hold down a melody that just slipped away. I guess life is best this way, that it goes in and out of the realm of our understanding, otherwise we will be bored to death (pun intended). I also don’t like math, but I think all these equations and formulas, plusses and minuses, multiplication, division, algorhythms, calculus, etc. hold the key to life as much as words and sentences do. I love Cloud Atlas! I love how quiet it is. I don’t even know why it strikes me as silent but it does. Ps: How does one stumble upon a blog? I’m new here and I don’t think I ever have stumbled upon any blog, except when I Google search words. Stumbling upon something, I think, is better than finding something — and I’d like to experience that.

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