Reviewed by: Taran Gingery
story of souls reincarnated into 6 difference times over a 500 year period
What is the Occult? Answer
the Indian belief in karma (a deed or action which causes an entire cycle of cause and effect which supposedly effects one’s future) accepted by Buddhists and Hindus / Followers of Vedanta (a school of Hindu philosophy) believe “if one sows goodness, one will reap goodness; if one sows evil, one will reap evil.”
about the novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
How do acts of kindness affect others and cause positive results, now and in the future?
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
My boyfriend wants to have sex. I don’t want to lose him. What should I do? Answer
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
about director Lana Wachowski (formerly Larry Wachowski). He had a sex-change in 2008. For 10 years beforehand, he was having hormone “therapy.” After the sex-change, he became female Lana Wachowski. “Her” first appearance since the sex change was in an interview for “Cloud Atlas”.
GAY—What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?
What about gays needs to change? Answer
It may not be what you think.
What does the Bible say about same sex marriages? Answer
What should be the attitude of the church toward homosexuals and homosexuality? Answer
Read stories about those who have struggled with homosexuality
How important is it to be “Politically Correct”? Answer
THE NEW TOLERANCE—It’s politically correct, but does it hold danger for followers of Christ? Is love the same thing as tolerance? Answer
If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer
Is there an actual place called “Hell”? Answer
Why was Hell made? Answer
Is there anyone in Hell today? Answer
Will there literally be a burning fire in Hell? Answer
What should you be willing to do to stay out of Hell? Answer
How can a God of love send anybody to Hell? Answer
What if I don’t believe in Hell? Answer
THE GOOD NEWS—How to be saved from Hell. Answer
|Featuring:||Tom Hanks … Dr. Henry Goose/Hotel Manager/Isaac Sachs/Dermot Hoggins/Cavendish Look-a-Like Actor/Zachry
Halle Berry … Native Woman/Jocasta Ayrs/Luisa Rey/Indian Party Guest/Ovid/Meronym
Jim Broadbent … Captain Molyneux/Vyvyan Ayrs/Timothy Cavendish/Korean Musician/Prescient 2
Hugo Weaving … Haskell Moore/Tadeusz Kesselring/Bill Smoke/Nurse Noakes/Boardman Mephi/Old Georgie
Jim Sturgess … Adam Ewing/Poor Hotel Guest/Megan’s Dad/Highlander/Hae-Joo Chang/Adam/Zachry Brother-in-Law
Ben Whishaw … Cabin Boy/Robert Frobisher/Store Clerk/Georgette/Tribesman
Susan Sarandon … Madame Horrox/Older Ursula/Yusouf Suleiman/Abbess
Hugh Grant … Rev. Giles Horrox/Hotel Heavy/Lloyd Hooks/Denholme Cavendish/Seer Rhee/Kona Chief
|Producer:||Cloud Atlas Productions
X-Filme Creative Pool
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“Everything is connected.”
“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime, and every kindness, we birth our future.” So says Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae), a “fabricant” or genetically-modified human who is essentially a slave in New Seoul, the capital city of a futuristic dystopian Korea, where “pure-bloods” rule from on high, and the “fabricants” are mere commodities, although they are never told how worthless they are. Somni eventually joins a group of rebels who open her eyes to the truth of the abuses the “fabricants” suffer and present her with a choice—to expose the evils of the government or to do nothing with her newfound freedom.
That is only one of the six stories told in “Cloud Atlas.” Indeed, trying to sum up a movie like “Cloud Atlas” is like trying to put together a massive puzzle. Ultimately, it is six different stories following six different characters in six different time areas—and all of the stories are connected in some way. What is more, each story is decidedly different in nature, ranging from the aforementioned science fiction to absurd comedy.
A second story is that set in a post-post-apocalyptic world in which humanity has reverted back to primitive ways. Here, lowly goatherd Zachary (Tom Hanks), living with his tribe on a now barbaric Hawaii (called the Valley), is visited by a mysterious woman, Meronym (Halle Berry), who is searching for something at the top of the mountain. Zachary, at first reluctant because he believes the mountain to be the home of the Devil, agrees to be her guide on the dangerous journey after she saves the life of his daughter.
A third story is that of Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess), in the 1800s, who is taken ill with a parasite while on board a ship on its way to San Francisco and doesn’t appear to be getting any better, in spite of the medicines of the kindly Dr. Goose (Hanks, again). While recovering, he meets a stowaway slave, Autua (David Gyasi), and the two form a friendship that eventually proves beneficial to both of them.
The fourth story is that of Luisa Rey (Halle Berry). An intrepid journalist in 1975 bent on uncovering the truth behind a report that a new nuclear power plant is dangerous. When her source is murdered, Luisa finds herself embroiled in a mystery in which friends are few and far between and yet appear and disappear unexpectedly and in which her very life may be in danger.
The fifth story is a comedy of errors in which publisher Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent), through a series of unfortunate and outrageous events, finds himself tricked into committing himself to a retirement home. There, he and a band of fellow “rebel” senior citizens plot to escape their confinement.
Finally, the sixth story is that of Robert Frobisher (Ben Wishaw), an aspiring young artist who is delighted to work as an amanuensis (one who dictates another’s music) for the brilliant, but aging composer Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent). Unfortunately, this work separates him from his lover, Rufus Sixsmith (James D'Arcy), and, what is more, his employer may have ulterior motives for keeping him there.
If each of those stories sound like enough for their own individual movies, then that is because they are. And yet, for all their complexities and differences, the stories blend well together, and the elements that connect them actually make sense. Indeed, pacing is one of this lengthy film’s lesser problems. The directors, the Wachowskis (the masterminds behind “The Matrix” trilogy and “V for Vendetta”) and Tom Tyker keep things moving at a good speed, and the screenplay and acting keep the audience invested in the stories and characters. What is more, the visuals are astounding, vast and varied, from the technological marvels of New Seoul to the sea-faring, old world set pieces of the late 1800s.
It is difficult, though, to put together the actual message of the film. One idea in the film stems from the quote at the beginning of this review, that our lives are interconnected. The part of the quote that “by every crime and every kindness, we birth our future” is strongly demonstrated in the film, especially in the stories of Zachary, Ewing, and Somni. Zachary is plagued by a memory in which he did nothing to save the life of a friend, when he could have prevented it, and later, when given a chance in a similar situation, he chooses to do the right thing and is rewarded for it.
Somni chooses to reveal the lie of the “pure-bloods” not only because they are abhorrent but because the rebels treat her with kindness and respect—in other words, like a human. Ewing shows great kindness towards the slave Autua, expecting nothing in return, and great good comes of it. Eventually, his sympathy towards Autua’s plight leads him to the abolitionist movement. When a character scoffs at his compassion, telling him that his life will amount to nothing more than a drop in the ocean, Ewing remarks, “What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?” In other words, it takes many working together to bring change.
This positive message is overcast by the film’s concept of “freedom,” which has positive connotations, but it is not always the same “freedom” that we, as Christians, think of. For example, it is mentioned that “freedom is only truly understood by those who are deprived of it” and that is true, especially in the cases of Somni and Autua, who are stripped of all freedoms granted to “humans” and as such, their pursuit of freedom is to be lauded, especially in that Somni ultimately wants freedom for others, as well.
However, one must note that theirs is a self-made freedom and is thus seen as a right, not as a gift. Theirs is a humanist’s freedom. Indeed, most of the characters seek freedom to live out their own desires, especially Frobisher, who seeks to live freely and openly with his lover, and Cavendish, who seeks to free himself from the confinements of “old age.” As one character quotes, “Boundaries are only conventions waiting to be broken”—a hedonistic view of freedom.
Furthermore, the film is muddied by a spiritualism that plays with ideas of reincarnation and a mystical, yet vague concept of an afterlife. The devil, a green-skinned whisperer of lies played with a villainous sneer by Hugo Weaving, plagues Zachary day and night, reminding him of his failures and tempting him to do unspeakable things, even kill, and yet this is also not explicitly the devil of the Bible (although he acts like him). The only inkling of Christianity is in Ewing, who is a Bible-reading, praying man and arguably, the moral strong point of the film.
The film is also definitely hindered by its content. Sexuality plays a huge part in several of the stories. Frobisher and Sixsmith share a sexual relationship (they are seen sleeping, nude from the backside) and Frobisher eventually is crudely exposed by someone else, who uses vulgar terms to describe him. We also see him in an affair with a woman which does have more blatant implications.
Cavendish recalls his young days, when he almost lost his virginity (again, we see barely veiled male and female nudity). Most graphic of all, though, is Somni’s tryst with the rebel, Chang, which is gratuitous and explicit, with frontal female nudity. Somni also witnesses a fellow “fabricant” having sex, mostly clothed, and she and many fabricants are fully nude as they dress for the day. There is foul language a-plenty—literally every obscenity and profanity one can think of is used more than once.
Violence also plays a significant part. In Luisa Rey’s world, her source is graphically shot in the head by an assassin, blood splattering the walls. That assassin shoots another woman’s dog, but the woman eventually strikes him repeatedly with a wrench, killing him. Zachary’s is a world of brutal, cannibalistic violence in which he and his tribe are frequently attacked by horse-riding savages called the Kona. One assault leaves his village burned and many people killed (we see heads on spikes). Zachary graphically cuts one Kona’s throat. A final skirmish leaves several Kona warriors dispatched in bloody fashion, while Zachary gets a cut to the face and Meronym an arrow in her leg.
Autua is whipped. Many shoot-outs and chases leave rebels and assailants killed in New Seoul. “Fabricants” who have outlived their usefulness are euthanized by a shot to the head and later hung (naked) on conveyor belts to be “recycled.” On character graphically commits suicide by shooting himself in the mouth.
Thus, in the end, “Cloud Atlas” is a mess, both in terms of content and theme. In spite of its messages about the strength of a kind act versus the equal strength of a cruel act, and the pursuit of freedom for the oppressed, its very strong violent and sexual content, as well as its convoluted spiritualism and humanistic bent mean there is little in it that warrants a recommendation for Christians. However, I will say that, as a film, it is a powerfully told, strongly acted and visually riveting mess.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.