When I heard they were adapting Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell’s 2004 incredible, six-stories-in-one novel, I was really sad. The book seems almost impossible to adapt to the screen. But the more I learned about the project the more excited I’ve gotten. Tom Twyker and the Wachowskis in charge? Maybe it’ll work.
Now we’re finally getting to see our first look and holy crapola does it look awesome. I really hope the five-minute trailer is indicative of the rest of the movie being just as gigantic — nothing less for this amazing book.
For those who haven’t read it, the basic premise of Cloud Atlas is that it tells six stories, but the stories are each split in two so we read six beginnings and six endings. What’s more, each story is linked to the previous one — sometimes the previous story is actually written in a diary or letters, but some of them are more out there, like a film or an oral history. It sounds hokey but the device serves the central themes of the book — one of things Mitchell loves exploring is lives jutting up against each other, intersecting but never quite fully joining.
The idea that we are fundamentally and definitionally alone, yet live our whole lives seeking to be connected, to be heard, should be a familiar theme to readers of David Foster Wallace, and those readers will definitely enjoy Mitchell’s work. He has a gift for language, and each of the six stories is written in a completely different prose style and told in a completely different genre, spanning from Melvillean sea adventure to modern thriller pulp to full-blown science fiction. Seriously, so damn good.