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The Cloud Atlas Essay

1223 words - 5 pages

Imagine a 172 minute long independent movie with a budget of $100 million, featuring Hollywood stars such as Tom Hanks and Halle Berry and directed by the same people who created The Matrix trilogy. Cloud Atlas is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious films ever made. It is based on the 2004 award winning novel by David Mitchell. The plot consists of six interwoven stories spanning nearly 500 years. It begins in 1849 with the American lawyer Adam Ewing, who sails to the Pacific islands in order to arrange a contract for his father-in-law. On his way back, Adam finds a slave named Autua hiding in his cabin, who convinces the lawyer to help him become a free man. Meanwhile, Dr. Henry Goose ...view middle of the document...

The fourth storyline takes place in 2012. Timothy Cavendish, a small old publisher, suddenly reaps a windfall when the author of one of his books publicly murders a critic and the book becomes a bestseller. But then the killer’s brothers come after Cavendish to get their share of the money. Having spent it all, Timothy finds himself on the run and ends up in a “hotel” which turns out to be a prison-like nursing home. There he and three other senior “residents” plan and pull off the most ridiculous escape. The fifth story is set in 22nd century Korea. Its protagonist is the fabricant Sonmi-451, a brainwashed human clone slave working as a server in a fast food restaurant. One night, she is liberated by Hae-Joo Chang, a member of a rebel group which wants to free the fabricants. Chang shows Sonmi that when their contracts end, instead of being freed as promised, fabricants are killed and recycled into food for other fabricants. She is then taken to a broadcasting tower where she reveals her story before being captured and executed by the government. The last storyline is dedicated to Zachry, a primitive tribesman, living in a post-apocalyptic 24th century world. He meets Meronym, a woman from a dying advanced society. She needs Zachry’s help to reach a communication station and broadcast a message to Earth’s off-world colonies in hopes of finding salvation for her people. After a perilous journey, during which Zachry’s tribe is killed, the two of them complete Meronym’s mission and are later seen leaving Earth together.
The main ideas behind Cloud Atlas are that everything is connected and that every action has consequences. The movie successfully portrays these ideas to the viewer in several different ways. To begin with, the main characters in all six plots are played by the same actors. This is done intentionally in order to show that human souls are not bound to a single body or period and that they can evolve and even completely change over the course of time. Some critics argue that this “recycling” of performers hurts the movie because it makes the audience focus on figuring out who is playing each character rather than on the story itself. However, each actor’s appearance undergoes dramatic changes for each storyline through the use of heavy makeup and prosthetics. In fact, it is common for the performers to switch their skin color and even their sex between scenes. Moreover, the veteran cast skillfully portrays each role, relying not only on their altered appearances to conceal their...

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