If there is a movie that I have watched over and over again and have recommended over and over, it’s Cloud Atlas, which features Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon.
While a lot people will not be interested in this because it seems too sci-fi or who don’t believe in past lives, I were blown away by this movie as well as the book.
This is one case where I suggest people watch the movie first, and then pick up the book to study. And it really is more of a study than a read. I found myself stopping to do research on places, times and events in the story that I wasn’t familiar with, and there is nothing wrong with that. It makes it a learning experience.
Several times while reading the book, I stopped and watched the movie again and something in the book suddenly made sense for me.
It’s pretty involved, and you really need to pay attention in order to follow it since it jumps quickly between six different time periods. But after awhile, you start to notice the connection between stories and characters and events. Even using the Wikipedia as a cheat sheet, it still was sometimes hard to keep track of who was who and what all was going on, until towards the end it all started to blend and merge and make sense. The ending was amazing and showed how we all are connected, in this time period as well as other times, dimensions and places, and everything we do affects others and the future and the past affects the events in our present.
I think this is why I study both history and science… the past and the future and why I spend so much time tracing my family history and recording my life and current events. Maybe no one right now will find them interesting, but some day, someone will.
This is a movie that I’m going to be watching over and over again and each time come away with a new revelation.
My opinion is that this movie is going to take a level of commitment that a lot of people are not going to be willing to give it. My recommendation to anyone who is going to watch this is to first read the synopsis of the book on Wikipedia:
Cloud Atlas book
Then read the the movie synopsis:
Cloud Atlas (movie)
While the book differs somewhat from the movie in presentation, it will give you an idea of the basic storyline and the characters, which is why I recommend reading the book AFTER watching the movie several times.
That way you will see the interweaving of the characters and the actors who play them… each actor plays a different character in each time frame, although you might not even recognize some the actors. The make up done in the movie is extraordinary and the movie won several awards for makeup (and some criticism).
Then watch the movie. The WHOLE movie, even if you feel bored or confused at the beginning. If you only are willing to give it 15 minutes to grab you, don’t bother watching it. Because it will take watching it all, really watching it and concentrating on what is going on… letting it gel and then letting it finally come together and make sense at the ending.
Roger Ebert said the same thing I did, that this is a movie that you need to watch a second time and then a third time and a fourth time, because it will take all those times to understand the intricate interweavings of the story.
This is why I say this story, both the movie and the book, will require some commitment. But it’s one of the most brilliant stories I’ve ever seen.
What Dreams May Come is one of my favorites too… I have both the book and the movie. Cloud Atlas is much more complicated than Dreams.
What Dreams May Come is more about life after death, what people call Heaven, or the Summerlands, or Nirvana. And that the afterlife is like life, we create our own realities.
Cloud Atlas is more about life, and how the past lives influence us in the present and our present is influenced by the past and both influence the future.
In one point, one of the characters is asked if she believes in Heaven and what she thinks that is.. She says that she believes it to be one door closing and another opening. Many people who believe in reincarnation believe that too, that there is no afterlife, that we just go from one lifetime immediately into another. While What Dreams May Come suggests that we die, go to an afterlife and then can choose to reincarnate again.