Whether or not a film will become a classic is hard to call from the initial viewing. After all, It’s a Wonderful Life only became a staple of Christmas movies because they let the copyrights on it slip and television networks could play it for free. One thing that does help in the development of a classic is quality. And this film has quality bursting from every seam, even if it is ungodly long.
Let’s take a look at Cloud Atlas.
People first came out of this film either complaining about confusion with the plot or the long running time of three hours (comparable to Gone With the Wind). Articles were written about the race-swapping and how bad the make-up looked. People who debated if it was or was not racist. I am going to argue and say that it was not racist because the race-swapping was done for a reason, to create bigger thematic connections rather than just for the sake of whitewashing or black-facing characters to fit a narrative. Still, I can understand why people would be offended — all I ask is that people see the film first before you make your judgements.
Cloud Atlas is less a movie about plot and more about themes: humanity, camaraderie, truth, justice, faith, family, and inalienable human rights. The film covers a total of six plots, ranging in place and time, that interconnect with these themes. There are thirteen major actors who often repeat major and minor roles throughout the film – a blinded innocent, the doubt, the lovers, the villain, etc. The choice to keep the same actors strengthens the thematic impact. Don’t think this movie is all seriousness though – it definitely has its laughs.
The acting is particularly strong, which is a real plus for the film since it weighed heavily on their ability to act out different roles. I like the electric mix of actors, really keeping you on your toes on who to look for in what story. Each story is not only carefully designed with characters but also in its environment. The cinematography is simply gorgeous and needs to be seen on a big screen, it’s that great. The subtle choices of color, the use of sets, and yes, even the costume design. It is my personal bias that the most stylized and 1984-esque story is my favorite, i.e. the Neo Seoul story. Doona Bae is definitely a hidden talent in America, and I hope to see her in more films soon.
The individual stories are well constructed and well written. The film is based off a book of the same name, and it stuck relatively close to the source material. While some of them can drag on if you’re more interested in one more than the others, they each have their charm, almost acting like six mini films. The writing is strong – intelligent, heartfelt, engaging, and enlightening. I laughed, I teared up, I was shocked – this film balances all of these emotions deftly without feeling preachy or over-dramatic.
Cloud Atlas is one of the best sci-fi-dramas I have seen in a long time. It’s witty, it’s beautiful, it’s smart – a full triple threat. While this film has received a wide range of reviews, I think this film is one of the best modern films I have seen in a long time. Definitely give it a watch, even if just to ascertain if you’re one of the people who love it. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday, somewhere, this film is considered a sci-fi classic, based on its quality and far-reaching goals, goals they most achieved.
– Great acting.
– Great story.
– Fantastic cinematography.
– Sometimes can be a little confusing.
– Some plots can drag a little (but that is totally personal bias).