Review of Cloud Atlas (2012)

Moving picture, 172 minutes

Seen in 2015.

Seen mostly on SVT. SVT2 started showing this almost three-hour film at 21:45 and then interrupted that broadcast 10 minutes before the credits to stream unedited, untranslated live footage from a French news channel about the 13 November terrorist attacks in Paris, which had begun around 22:00. SVT had a 24-hour news channel available live, for free, to everyone with a TV or Internet in Sweden, and did not interrupt the Madonna concert going on in SVT1. Fortunately, SVT also had the film itself up on the web.

Reincarnation across four historical settings, one Blade Runner (1982) imitation, and post-apocalypse Hawaii.

SF epic, with fantasy underpinnings: Love as an objective force etc. The fifth period would naturally be the most interesting to me, but its violence is terribly implausible, its cyberpunk design tired, and the soap twist announced as a cliché by Cavendish’s open reference to Soylent Green (1973) earlier in the film. The premises “revealed” by Sonmi (reincarnation, karma) will obviously not sway viewers, because they are openly supernatural and false. When this film was made, educated people everywhere already knew real-world reasons not to keep slaves or persecute homosexuals: reasons like biological equivalence, natural empathy, political stability and economic efficiency.

It would have been more interesting to use this enormous budget to trace a credible development of civilization more clearly, and/or advocate progressive values, such as acceptance for transsexuals like one or two of the film’s directors, or the values of science. Tellingly, it was people with religious values who perpetrated the terrorist attacks that led to my viewing of the film being interrupted. Still, as a shallow sci-fi romp it’s entertaining, partly because of the power of Hanks’ bad acting to shine through thick makeup.

moving picture fiction cyberpunk