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Cloud Atlas Trailer #2

Okay, it’s best if you prepare yourself for a Book Catapult Cloud Atlas Onslaught® over the next month+, because it’s all I’m thinking about. I’m reading the book again, even though I read it for the second time in May. I’m also planning out a fairly extensive series of posts on the intricacies of the book coming soon, as well as the possibility of a very public, film-related spectacle of some sort. So brace yourselves.

But for the moment, let’s watch the second Cloud Atlas trailer, shall we?
Except for the opening sequence, here’s nothing in this trailer that wasn’t in the extended one that was released in July – and in fact, this one doesn’t have the same emotional heft that the other does. Yes, I’m talking about the “emotional heft” of a movie preview. I told you to brace yourself. 

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:


The scene (:15-:19 seconds in trailer #2) where she’s playing Luisa Rey trying to track down Robert Frobisher’s Cloud Atlas Sextet. Here she’s seen thinking reeeeeaaaallly hard, breathing through her mouth.






And this other one really bugs me for some reason. At 1:30 of trailer #2 (also seen somewhere in the first trailer) she’s playing Meronym in the “Sloosha’s Crossin'” section, gazing wistfully at Zachry. And tenderly holding his hand. Barf. PLUS (nerd alert!) I don’t recall such a scene in the book. (Of course, this may just be clever trailer-editing.) I know, I know, there are bound to be plenty of scenes like this in the film, but I can already smell the “star-crossed lovers” thing goin’ on between Hanks and Halle. And I don’t like it. 

“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.

Enough negative thoughts. At least one thing I did like from the trailer (in addition to Tom Hanks digging for teeth on the beach) is the slow-mo shot of the china shop:
I admittedly had to go back to the text to sort that one out: it’s from the opening letter from Robert Frobisher to Rufus Sixsmith (Letters From Zedelghem) in which he describes a dream he had about being in a china shop. It was so tightly packed that the slightest movement would send “porcelain antiquities” smashing to the floor – but rather than a cacophonous crash, they release musical notes. “Knew I’d become the greatest composer of the century if I could only make this music mine.” It blows me away that the directors saw the necessity to include this very, very subtle scene. Gives me hope…

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.”

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5 comments on “Cloud Atlas Trailer #2

  1. SuchSmallSteps
    October 14, 2012

    I can finally go back and read all of these posts now that I finished the book- I didn't get the love story theme from many of the chapters at all! And not in the least from the Sloosha's Crossin' section. I've read a few reviews of the movie and I have to admit, if I can find the 2 hrs and 45 minutes, I may have to go see it. I'm intrigued by what they've done with it.

  2. Scott Ehrig-Burgess
    October 17, 2012

    Seth Marko, I think we owe Halle Berry an Official Book Catapult Apology. Despite the scene where she limps.

  3. Seth Marko
    October 17, 2012

    Um… no.

  4. Marie B.
    January 17, 2014

    Why do you hate Halle Berry so much? I found her peformance lacked nothing and she really fit into the cast. Probably has more to do with her being a black woman, I reckon. You didn't have anything to say about the other actors performances after all. And it's not her fault that the directors decided to concentrate more on the romance, as you insinuated above.

  5. Seth Marko
    January 18, 2014

    Marie, I started writing a well-informed post defending my take on Halle Berry and her acting abilities (or lack thereof) but decided that your accusation that I – a complete stranger who happens to have a website you stumbled upon, presumably while Googling “Halle Berry Cloud Atlas limping,” – am racist because I think she is a bad actress, doesn't deserve such a response.

    Okay, so I have a response anyway. Insane, obnoxious racism accusations aside – I thought Halle was just fine in Cloud Atlas, after I had seen the entire film. (You might have noticed that this post you're commenting on was about the preview to the film, which had not been released at the point I wrote this post.) I still don't like the “star-crossed lovers” theme that the directors wrote into the script, but thought Berry was solid as Meronym – aside from the limp scene. (By the way, she acquired said limp when she broke her foot on set. I still think a quality actress would have been able to hide the pain for 2 seconds while on screen.) However, most of her scenes as Luisa Rey were pretty bad. Although, the Luisa character was written by Mitchell to be from a pulp novel, so I guess her wooden, stilted delivery of her lines was just fine. As for my take on the rest of the actors, you can check out this later post, written after the film had actually been seen: “The Cloud Atlas Has Been Witnessed”

    But hey, Marie, thanks for visiting and sharing your opinion!

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