Tuesday 12 March 2013

Cloud Atlas

I went to see Cloud Atlas at the weekend. I suspect I am performing precisely the role allotted me by whoever sat down, planned out the likely audience for this movie and said: "Yeah, what it needs is more romance. And some happy endings. And people running around having super-cool fights with laser guns and ropes that turn into walkways fifty stories up in the air and Hugo Weaving dressed as a woman". (Well, he's got form for it.)

Because I absolutely loved it. I also absolutely loved the book, which is in several key ways different, but equally I do think the changes worked. The only way I could end the book without sniffling a lot was to think of it as a lesson: as the stories slowly nest into each other, going back through time to the beginning, David Mitchell shows us the worst of how things could be, then takes us back to the start, implicitly allowing us to hope; we have seen how thing could be, but we have another chance to begin again.

The film is much more strongly positive, albeit not without heartbreak. It also made me realise something I'd been stupid not to see before: it's the same story six times, in six different ways.

To conform to the norm, or to reject what appears to be the inevitable order of things? It's no accident that Mitchell chose to end with his earliest character [SPOILER] devoting his life to the abolition of the slave trade.

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