Films, Reviews

Cascades and Swells: thoughts on Cloud Atlas

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Sixsmith (James D’Arcy) and Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) in the 1936 segment of Cloud Atlas

Spoilers.

Short version: Cloud Atlas is a gentle and harmonic set of stories about how humanity is tied together, and proves that unadaptable novels are anything but.

Long version:

I read Cloud Atlas about twelve months ago, having heard about David Mitchell’s book upon release and finding a remaindered copy in a cheap shop. At the time, I was struck by its structure; the book is a series of nested tales that leap forward in time, each half told until the sixth, and the each finished in order ( like, story one, part A, story 2, part A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6, 5B, 4B and so on). It’s an interesting structure, and what the book tends to do is build to the climax in the central story (Zachry’s) and then cascade back to the ending of the first. This symmetrical structure works in book form, but how the hell do you do it in a film? Continue reading

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