“Cloud Atlas” is an award-winning novel written by David Mitchell which was recently made into an epic film for the big screen. The film takes place in six different main characters lives webbed into different time lines where each life affects the others in the past, present and future. There are six stories that are all nested into one unforgettable adventure, and the reader is taken from the warm sand of the South Pacific to a post-apocalyptic future on a distant planet.
The sci-fi drama-fantasy begins with the story of Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) in the Chatham Islands during the California Gold Rush in 1850. Ewing is an American lawyer from San Francisco, Calif. awaiting reparations on his ship when he runs into a loony doctor by the name of Henry Goose (Tom Hanks) who “diagnoses” him as being ill. Meanwhile, Ewing discovers the harsh reality of the enslavement of Moriori tribe and witnesses Autua (a member of the tribe) being lashed. In the moment, they meet eyes, creating a powerful moment where the two men become friends when Edwing discovers Autua has become a stowaway aboard ship. Autua ends up saving Edwing when he comes to the realization that Dr. Goose had been poisoning him.
1930s Belgium, the ‘web of significance’ continues with Robert Frobisher, who is a bisexual, disowned English musician and composer who recently had to leave his lover and good friend, Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy). Frobisher works for an ignorant old man named Vyvyan Ayrs in Belgium and helps Ayrs write his compositions. Frobisher comes across a journal called “The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing.” Frobisher composes his music called “Cloud Atlas Sextet” and then commits suicide, leaving a letter for his one and only love, Sixsmith.
With a time-split the story then takes place in 1975 with a young aspiring journalist named Luisa Rey (played by Halle Berry) who is investigating a power plant in California that is unsafe. Rey finds herself stuck in an elevator with an old scientist that works for the power plant named Rufus Sixsmith. Sixsmith hints that his company is creating something that is dangerous to the community and asks Rey for help to seek justice within the matter. Shortly afterwards, Sixsmith is murdered and Rey finds old letters from Sixsmith’s lover back thirty years before and the “Cloud Atlas Sextet” written by Robert Frobisher.
The present life of Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) who is running from mobsters from all of his debt is currently writing “The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish” and mentions how he is reading a mystery called: “Half-lives The First Luisa Rey Mystery, Part I.”
Flash forward to the dystopian futuristic Nea So Copro, which is later to be revealed as Korea where the “Half blood” Sonmi-451, is a genetically engineered fabricant that is one of millions. They were designed (grown) specifically as servants and are enslaved and controlled by chemical manipulation. A ‘pure bred’ rescues Somni and together they attempt to escape the fallen government. As luck would have it, Sonmi falls in love with her knight-in-shining armor -which is forbidden. Somni becomes an archivist when she discovers that the horrors of being “released” after serving your time actually means you are then recycled and served to the fabricants as food. Somni is horrified and writes her Declarations to the world and even though she is aware she will be executed she knows that truth will not go without justice and will become inspirational.
If you’re not confused already, jump even further into the future to the Big Island of Hawaii where Tom Hanks plays a farmer named Zachary whose people are constantly being raided by the violent Kona tribe. Zachary and his people worship a goddess named Somni who they have heard legends of the time called “The Fall” where the once “civilized people” ruled the world and which lead to people becoming primitive.
The end of the movie simply combines the timelines in the idea of how each life, has an affect on the next and the world goes round and like a figure 8 where empires, the power of men, and the civilization of genuine-beings rise and fall.
“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” ― David Mitchell