For one thing – and I’m just going to say what we’re all thinking – I’m starting to think that Halle Berry is kind of an awful choice for this multiple-character role shit. Could she act her way out of a paper bag if the need presented itself? Right, right, yeah, yeah, she won an Oscar, but… I will see your Oscar and raise you one Swordfish. And I will slap a Catwoman down on the table, just for good measure. Regardless of her checkered past, there are already a couple of scenes in Cloud Atlas – admittedly just from the trailer, so not necessarily in the completed film – that make me feel a little queasy:
|“You’re so handsome with your silver eyepatch.”|
Yes, there is sort of a love-story element to each section, if you want to spin it that way. But don’t do that, man, c’mon. I can only speak for the book – and I will take this unsolicited opportunity to do so – but, in my view, after 2 1/2 readings, what it is NOT about (deep breath) is how love can be so strong that it crosses generations and reincarnations and hundreds of years to blah blah blah emerge so strong with Daniel Day Lewis yelling under a waterfall, “You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you.” (Too far?) To me, it’s about the subtle threads that connect our lives (or the potential for those threads to exist, at least) and also about the eternal theme of “predator versus prey,” of pursuit and obsession. Each section features a predator and a prey who carry the plot to the apex and it seems that this is more of a linking structure between the narratives than any Nicholas Sparks-ian love affair thread. Mitchell, the man himself, from a 2004 Washington Post Q&A:
“Perhaps all human interaction is about wanting and getting. (This needn’t be as bleak as it sounds – a consequence of getting can be giving, which presumably is what love is about.) Once I had these two ideas I looked for other variations on the theme of predatory behavior – in the political, economic and personal arenas. Each block of narrative is subsumed by the next, like a row of ever-bigger fish eating the one in front.”
DM’s assessment aside, this is all just idle speculation, of course, and I thank you for humoring me by reading this far into this post. I’m excited to see this movie, what can I say? Will there be differences between the book and the film? Of course. (I already know that there are characters added to the film to make connections between narratives that were not necessarily there in the book – seemingly to connect roles played by Hanks and Berry, but whatever.) I think I’m going to approach this as if the Wachowskis are simply different readers who may have gotten something different from the book than I did. (And it would seem that they loved it just as much, if not more, than I did.) Maybe they saw the reincarnated-lovers-thing as the driving force to the narrative. Maybe they didn’t see the predator-prey theme as strongly as I did. Who am I to argue? Maybe they think Halle Berry is the world’s greatest actress. Well, I’m gonna have to call bullshit on that one, but you see my point.
One last Atlas tidbit (and the source of even greater hope): there was a great piece by Alexander Hemon in the September 10th New Yorker about the Wachowskis and the film. Lana Wachowski: “We decided…that – as hard and as long as it might take to write this script – if David (Mitchell) didn’t like it, we were just going to kill the project.”