‘Cloud Atlas’ review (spoiler free)

Cloud Atlas Book

Brief Outline- Cloud Atlas is about six different people and their stories in life. And how these people and their stories are connected in more ways than one. The film is about how one person can shape anther’s life and model their next life after reincarnation. Spanning from a Lawyer from the 19th century to a local man who lives in a tribal culture in the future.

Review – Cloud Atlas… How is it possible that a director could read the book and decide to set aside their next few years making it. Well the answer is if you have 3 directors who are incredibly passionate about making the adaptation, work within collaboration of the author, hire an all star cast, use incredible make up, make the film as love laced and as issue ridden as it could be, allow for a long run time, shoot at some spectacular locations, add some great visual effects and let the theme song suck you up.

When asked what the book is about… it is hard to explain to without noticing confusion in the opposite’s face. The book Cloud Atlas is about 6 different people and their individual stories in life, spanning centuries, from the Pacific Ocean of the 19th century to the distant future and how each story pieces together.

When I first put the DVD on, I was in confusion to find that the film had started differently to how the book had started. I then presumed that each character had been given a prologue to introduce themselves to the audience. Only to find that the layout of the film was different to the book. The book travels from the first characters half-story all the way to the sixth characters story and then all the way back to the first characters second half-story. However in the film, the layout meant that each character’s story would have a number of minutes on screen before changing to an snippet of another character’s story. But then it would start jumping from e.g first character to fifth. This structure was strange at first and annoyed me, because I prefer to stay as true to the source material as possible. However, I eased into it and grew to appreciate the structure that had been used.

Obviously when reading a book, appearance is down to imagination, but what the creators of Cloud Atlas have done with the film is they have got actor’s to portray several different characters. The book hints at incarnation and being reborn in another life, but the film elaborates on this a lot, and by using the same actors to support this theory it works well and is not off putting either.

The film can be a hit or miss because it is a very unusual type of film so some people may really enjoy it and others may be let down for not liking the constant changes between story lines. The book has a lot of genres within it because there are 6 different stories within. But the film really elaborates on every potential of another genre. So some people may go and see it because they want to see a good story, also knowing that it is based on a book. But others may see it because they want to see the special effects. The film is really a mix of lots of different things. Such as Love-Romance, Sci-Fi, Historical Drama, Comedy, and more.

A problem with the film is that the trailer does not give away enough about the film. The trailer is jaw-dropping for a lot of reasons but what it doesn’t do is tell the viewers enough of what the film is about. The Trailer shows off the great cast, locations, make-up, special effects, quotes, soundtrack and more. But it doesn’t tell you exactly what the film is about. The book is about 6 different stories and how they fit together, so its books in a book really. But the film however is definitely one story and not lots of them.

The start of the film introduces all of the characters in a kind of prologue. What is shown in each introductory scene about each character is included in the book, but is included to show the audience just who they will be following in the film.

It will seem a little confusing at first as to how it jumps between stories. It does take a fair amount of the film before everything really serious happens. This means that you can understand just who the characters are and what the stories are about before they unfold before you. The stories are very different in comparison to each other but the film keeps the same tempo for what is happening. This is because it would be strange if a major action sequence took place, followed by a love romance scene.

Their is a fair amount that is in the book that is not in the film such as a love relationship, which is heavily influential in one of the endings of the film. Or a visit to local natives, which takes up almost an entire chapter. As well as missing out areas of the book, new material has been added either because the creators of the film wanted to add it or because of an alternate ending. The end of the chapters are some-what different to the book. One characters storyline has been given an alternate ending to the chapter. However this is for the better in my opinion, because its very ending was unsatisfactory and was a major plot twist. So by doing this it has kept in line with the theme of the chapter, book and film. Other endings are the same but yet different to the books. Parts of the ending may have been erased or characters cut out, which affect the endings. But in terms of a ‘film’ viewer and putting the book aside. The ending of each chapter, or in the films term, the end (as they are all wrapped up and follow each other) are all satisfying and are very character driven. The endings all in all are emotional. One problem I had with the film, was that as a prologue, it shows one of the characters endings and it is very easy to guess what happens at the end of his chapter. So it gives away a major ending at the beginning of the film. Although I am not sure whether they originate from the book or the film, or a bit of both.

Verdict – 7.2/10. Cloud Atlas can separate audiences based on their preferences, their film style and more. The film itself is a mix of genres and is hard to explain to someone and so therefore, hard to sell. But what you get if you do watch it, is you get taken on a journey. One where you engage with the character’s and everyone around them. At first the layout will seem strange but equally it is one that works well for the film. Come the end of the film, you will be glad you watched. From composing music in Edinburgh in the 1930’s (Although Belgium in the book), to sparking a revolution in the 2100’s. This film will take you as far as the eye can see. Cloud Atlas is a great story, perhaps not as strong as the book, which leaves out certain source material and adds new material. The film works well with it’s ever changing rotating system of chapters and it’s use of actor’s in multiple roles. Cloud Atlas is so different to everything we usually get and is a great journey of various emotions.




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