Cloud Atlas: Thought-Provoking and Powerful

By Keen Lee

The film “Cloud Atlas” featuring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Doona Bae, Xun Zhou, Jim Sturgess, and many more talented actors, is definitely a must-watch for the end of 2012.

It is based on the 2004 novel “Cloud Atlas” written by David Mitchell. The storyline is unique and very thought-provoking in that Mitchell cleverly intertwines six stories to become one to convey one universal theme; humanity preys on its own kind time after time. “Cloud Atlas” presents six different stories of characters living in different time periods but inclusively, everything and everyone are connected.

Asian actresses Doona Bae and Xun Zhou make their first appearances in this American powerful film, “Cloud Atlas”. Doona Bae is a Korean model, television and film star. Her and Xun Zhou who is a well-known and admired Chinese film star debut in their first English-language film of “Cloud Atlas”. Bae is known for her films in “Take Care of My Cat,” and “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” where she played leading roles that led her to receive several festival awards and the AKOFIC Best Actress Awards in 2001 and 2002. In 2000, Bae had won the Best New Actress Blue Dragon Award for her role in “Barking Dogs Never Bite,” directed by Bong Joon-ho. Bae continued to receive awards in the coming years. She won the Director’s Cut Actress of the Year Award for her performance in both “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” in 2002 and Bong Koon-ho’s “The Host” in 2006. Bae is also recognized in Japan’s film industry for her roles in the Japanese film “Linda, Linda, Linda,” directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita, and Koreeda Hirokazu’s “Air Doll.” In 2010, she achieved Best Actress at the Japanese Academy Awards, and at the Tokyo Sports Movie Awards, Takasaki Film Festival, and Japan Professional Film Awards.

Xun Zhou is the only Chinese actress to have won all the major Chinese-language film awards, including China’s Hundred Flowers Awards, the Hong Kong Film Awards and Hong Kong’s Golden Bauhinia Awards, Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards, and Asian Film Awards, among others. She has starred in art house classics such as “Suzhou River,” “The Little Chinese Seamstress” and “The Equation of Love & Death.” Zhou has also acted in blockbuster hits as “Perhaps Love,” with Takeshi Kaneshiro, Shakespeare’s “The Banquet,” starring Ziyi Zhang, “Painted Skin,” with Donnie Yen, “The Message,” and “Confucius,” with Chow Yun-Fat. One of Zhou’s work is acting alongside Michelle Yeoh in “True Legend” and completing the film “The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate,” with Jet Li, and ”The Great Magician,” with Tony Leung.

“Cloud Atlas” takes the audience from the nineteenth century remote South Pacific Island to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. The six stories consist of The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, Letters from Zedelghem, Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery, The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish, An Orison of Sonmi~451, and Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After. Each story that ends leads on to the midst of the next character’s life. The leading character in each story has one thing in common and that is their birthmark which symbolizes that humanity is endlessly the same regardless of the time and place it may be. A sense of deja vu occurs throughout the film because characters are reincarnated.

It is very interesting to see how the directors, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski were able to mold the six stories into one storyline. The transition from one story to the next was definitely strategically arranged for the audience to follow and interpret the message planted in the scenes. As one character’s story unfolded during the progression of the film, I was anticipating on seeing how it would connect to the subsequent one.

The sub-themes such as love, trust and freedom portrayed in the film are timeless and universal. From the film, I learned that though one may die, the love shared between two people continues to live on. Trust leads one to continue believing that there is hope to strive for more, and people struggle to fight for freedom every day because of the corrupt systems in society. No matter what time period, whether past, present or future, humanity is predictable and it is a natural cycle of life.

A film you must see!

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