Big, Bold and Beautiful – or Bloated, Bumptious and Boring? – picking a side on Cloud Atlas
I knew as I watched the trailer that Cloud Atlas would be anything but ordinary. It could be a big, glorious adventure in time and space. Or it could be an equally embarrassing failure.
As they say: the higher you aim the harder you fall.
Cloud Atlas has divided the audience since it came out. Depending on who you ask, it’s either a triumph or a disaster, but rarely anything between.
When I first heard there were three directors of this movie, I scratched my head. It’s with directors as with drummers: you don’t normally have more than one in your band. Two is a rarity and three unthinkable, unless you’re a member of some obscure Japanese drumming group. So why, just why would you assign three of them?
Well, after watching Cloud Atlas I can see why. It’s not one film, it’s seven: six shorts and the invisible magical frame that keeps it together. During its almost three hours long running time it moves effortless in time and space, to the past and the future, crossing genres, crossing conventions, crossing genders, crossing the normal rules of narrative in a movie. Unless you’d eaten one of the pills in Limitless, it seems like an overwhelming task and just too much for one person to deal with.
If you ask me to pick a side, I’m on the side of the fans. This is very big, very bold and very beautiful. I’ve seen it compared to Terrence Malick, an association which I think isn’t completely out of place. There’s a sense of cosmic mystery; no one is pointing on your nose what the meaning of all this is and how everything is connected, apart from that it’s the same actors in different make-ups. But as opposed to for instance The Tree of Life, the storytelling within each segment is clearer, which made it easier for me to become involved and engaged. Not once did I feel close to falling asleep. It was a big visual, audible and intellectual adventure and I didn’t want to miss out a second of it.
It makes me a little sad to see that even if it opened only recently in Sweden, it’s not in top 10, and I’ve got the feeling that it’s not likely to rise. Perhaps it takes that you’re a bit nerdy like me to fully appreciate it. And what can you say about the fact that it didn’t receive a single award at the Oscars? I don’t ever use the word “snub”, but to me it’s a mystery.
Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Andy and Lana Wachowski, 2012) My rating: 5/5