James D’Arcy as old Rufus Sixsmith and Halle Berry as Luisa Rey in the epic drama Cloud Atlas, distributed domestically by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Bored with conquering such feeble forces as time and space, directors Larry and Lana Wachowski have focused on conquering a new foe: Love.
Directed by The Wachowskis along with Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas is based on the best-selling novel by David Mitchell. Unfolding over 500 years, drama, redemption and enduring love ebb and flow as characters weave from one life to the next creating a cause and effect that ripple through generations.
The scale of its ideas is what we were instantly attracted to, its compassion for human beings, its boldness and audacity and the way it felt simultaneously classic and yet completely new, says Lana Wachowski, one of the films three writer/directors who adapted the award-winning novel. Thematically, it transcends boundaries of race and gender, location and time, and tells a story that implies the nature of humanity is beyond all those boundaries. Thats what intrigued us when we read the novel and then when we started working on the script.
Even while writing the script, the trio agreed to move forward only if Mitchell was enthusiastic about their adaptation.
For the author, embarking on the first film adaptation for one of his works was inherently different from writing a novel. The process was bewitching to watch, said Mitchell. Im delighted and, in a way, envious of the way these filmmakers have disassembled my book and reassembled it in ways that play to the strengths of their medium. I feel like the provider of stem cells, which they have grown into their own creation. Its a magnificent piece of work. I was swept away. Academy Award winners Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump) and Halle Berry (Monsters Ball) front an ensemble cast that also includes Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the story moves through time and space.
This was truly a one-of-a-kind filmmaking experience, says Berry, who assumes no less than six identities. I dont think Ill ever be part of another film like this. I love its originality. There are so many barriers being broken here, so many exciting concepts and, hopefully, it will leave people thinking about how they perceive the world and their own lives.
While Cloud Atlas is epic in concept, its also epic in production. Filmmakers and longtime friends Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer had often thought about working together, but it was their passion for Mitchells source material that finally geared the three into action. Befitting its unconventional storyline, they formed a truly unique creative alliance to share writing and directing efforts in bringing this book to life.
Part of the movie is a great love story that moves through different lives, but you see it in moments, not all at once, Lana Wachowski states. This is another of its themesthat love can alter the direction of your life at any time.
Its love, in this case for cinema, which has brought the directors to this giant undertaking. With a budget around $100 million, distributor Warner Bros. chipped in a fraction of the cost, leaving $80 million in the balance. The remaining balance was raised through independent sources leavingCloud Atlas as one of the most expensive independent films of all time.
But thats ok.
We love to make movies that are exciting, entertaining and romantic, but that also explore ideas, says Lana. Weve tried in our work to offer many levels or many ways to enjoy our films: visually, we try to show the audience things they havent seen before; emotionally, we try to offer enough thrills or action or romance to satisfy the kid in us as well as the audience; and, finally, we try to offer new perspectives or thoughts about very personal issues or ideas relevant to our everyday lives.