The Book Catapult

Cloud Atlas trailer

All the buzz at the end of this fine week (at least in my house) is the release by Warner Brothers of a nearly 6 minute trailer of the forthcoming Cloud Atlas film, produced by the Wachowskis and directed by Tom Tykwer. My feelings on this subject have been well documented (see Cloud Atlas Film Rumor and Cloud Atlas Burst) and almost completely cynical and negative, mainly due to the possibility that my favorite book – that’s right, FAVORITE BOOK – will be butchered and shredded by the Hollywood crap machine that is the Wachowskis. But, my friends…  BUT… if this trailer is any indication of things to come (and I kinda think it has to be, since it’s from the film itself) I think we might actually have something fairly spectacular on our hands. That’s right – I may have been wrong in my earlier assessments.

I’ll admit it here, publicly on the internets (never in person) – I got a little choked up, a little lump in the throat, seeing this book that I know so well and love so much brought so incredibly to life in a film version. Just a little. (I think it was the swell of music and the words “Everything Is Connected” that did it.) Now, don’t get me wrong – it ain’t perfect and I can already see some veering off from the plotlines of the book, but hell, it looks freakin’ spectacular and pretty much dead-on. (And often trailers are deliberately misleading in order to reel in a different, broader audience. I mean, it’s not really a story of star-crossed lovers, is it? Please tell me it’s not…) So, if you’ve somehow read this much of this post without watching the attached video, get crackin’. At this point in time, the film has the complete endorsement of The Book Catapult.

*On a related note, as way of explaining why this movie’s such a big deal to me:

A few months ago I decided that I would re-read all of David Mitchell’s books – see kids, Cloud Atlas was once what they called a “book!” Why, with all the books piling up in my home, office, and car, would I go back and re-read five unproven, not-as-yet classics as these? Foolish behavior, right? Anthony Doerr wrote a great piece in the Boston Globe a few months back on the dizzying amount of books we think we will read in our lives:

Have you ever done the math? If you’re lucky enough to have 70 years of literate adulthood, and if you read one book every week, you’re still only going to get to 3,640 books. Then you die.

So why ignore the math? Because, on a balmy summer night at Los Angeles’ Skylight Books back in 2010, I heard Mitchell speak about his fifth novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. And this is the sort of thing he talked about, causing me to crap my nerd-pants a little:

“I’ve come to realize that I’m bringing into being a fictional universe with its own cast, and that each of my books is one chapter in a sort of sprawling macronovel. That’s my life’s work, for however long my life lasts.  Of course, it’s important that each of the books works as a stand-alone, so that readers don’t have to read everything else I’ve written to make sense of the novel in their hands.  But I write each novel with an eye on the bigger picture, and how the parts fit into the whole.” (From the NYT Magazine, June 2010)

Dog-eared, annotated, loved.

In his Skylight talk, (which you can find here, at their podcast site) Mitchell said that he looks at each of his books as “sort of chapters in an übernovel or a hypernovel.” He also referred to “hyperlinks” between books in the form of recurring characters – the sort of thing that makes my head explode – so I wanted to go back and re-read all of his books, in the order he wrote them, to try and follow as many of those hyperlinks as I could. I really wanted to see if I could view all five books (to date) as one long, continuous narrative – as the author views things. Besides, I couldn’t decide on what to read that day and figured it was as good a time as any to do this.

So, I did. Back in May I read all the books again and tracked the hyperlinks, taking meticulous notes, writing down every character name for cross-referencing – all with the plan to somehow write my discoveries into a series of blog posts. Well, that hasn’t happened, obviously, and now this whole trailer thing broke, so I figured I’d just talk about that. A sloppy, stream-of-consciousness post, to be sure.

I guess that what I’m saying is that if the trailer for this film looks at all interesting to you, do yourself a favor and read the book first. Just read the book!! However well the filmmakers make all the subtle connections between storylines and characters in this thing, it will pale in comparison to the intricacies devised by the original author. You’re going to just have to trust me on this one – I first read it in 2004 and just went back to it a couple of months ago and it COMPLETELY held up. More so, even – it may have been better the second time, since I brought 8 more years of reading life along with me. 

*Attention fellow nerds: If there’s any interest in what I discovered while reading the books with an eye out for hyperlinks, let me know in the comments and maybe – MAYBE – I’ll write some more about it.*

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7 comments on “Cloud Atlas trailer

  1. Christine
    July 29, 2012

    I'm still on the fence about it… And I was at that Skylight reading too!

  2. Anonymous
    July 30, 2012

    “causing me to crap my nerd-pants a little”

    What a great line!

    Ray Kolb

  3. Seth Marko
    July 30, 2012

    That might have been the best author event I've been to. Seriously. My mind was sufficiently exploded after that.

    But I think the film looks pretty great – and I never would have guessed I'd ever say that about it. I've been sort of dreading it.

  4. Seth Marko
    July 30, 2012

    Hey, it is what it is, Ray. 🙂

  5. heather
    August 2, 2012

    Augh seth i am worried. i know the trailer is only six minutes but it looks to me like a visually stunning film littered with cliched pronoucements by the characters. i am going to reread the book i think, rather than see movie. Thanks for sharing the trailer though! Your new reader, heather

  6. Seth Marko
    August 3, 2012

    I don't know, Heather, I think I was just expecting something way, way shittier. I thought the cliched pronouncements would be much worse, even. It feels fairly close to the book to me – if a 6 minute trailer can show that – and I think I was lifted by just seeing those scenes in action. I also heard that Mitchell spent quite a bit of time on set, which is somehow heartening. I really was expecting something like Speed Racer, so… this looks GREAT!

  7. Seth Marko
    August 3, 2012

    And if it's been a few years since you read the book, definitely revisit. Totally held water for me, 8 years down the line.

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This entry was posted on July 28, 2012 by in David Mitchell, film, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post.
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