Director: Andy Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Actors: Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Tom Hanks
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
Cloud Atlas is a 2012 German drama and science fiction film written, produced and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. Adapted from the 2004 novel by David Mitchell, the film features multiple plotlines set across six different eras.
Everything is connected: an 1849 diary of an ocean voyage across the Pacific; letters from a composer to his friend; a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant; a farce about a publisher in a nursing home; a rebellious clone in futuristic Korea; and the tale of a tribe living in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, far in the future. Written by Anonymous.
- In 2005, while on the London set of V for Vendetta, Natalie Portman gave a copy of the original novel to Lana Wachowski, who became deeply interested in it. A year later, both Wachowski siblings wrote a first draft of the screenplay. Tom Tykwer, a friend of the Wachowskis, was invited to co-author several subsequent drafts with them in the following two years, constantly keeping in mind observations by the book’s author himself, David Mitchell, while looking for international investors. In all those years, Portman was promised the role of Sonmi-451, but had to turn down the role at the last minute after becoming pregnant in 2010. However, she is given a special thanks in the closing credits.
- Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski directed the 1849, 2144 and 2321 segments of the film. Tom Tykwer directed the 1936, 1973 and 2012 segments.
- All cast members have several roles in the final film, spanning different times, races and even sexes. This was achieved through prosthetics, wardrobe and tight production times to switch actors between units. For instance, Halle Berry described the experience of filming as a Jewish woman in the 1930s under the direction of Tom Tykwer one day, then switching to an old tribal woman under the helm of the Wachowski siblings, and then again as a environmentalist in the 1970s, all in the same week.
- The whole film was shot with two parallel filming units, one under the helm of Tom Tykwer and the other under the direction of the Wachowski siblings, sharing no crew members beside the cast and the directors themselves.
- While on the set of this movie, Tom Hanks started calling the Wachowski siblings “Mom and Dad” because they worked so well together and as leaders of the cast and crew.
- One of the few films in history that has three directors working together as an original team who equally share directing credit.
- Luisa Rey’s apartment number is 451, a connection to Somni-451. Both characters take enormous risks to fight injustice.
- Because of the nature of casting on the film, the directors told the actors to think of their roles as a “genetic strain” rather than a series of individual parts, with actions in one story-line affecting another.
- The first post-Bound film by the Wachowskis to not involve a video game tie-in.
- Despite Sixsmith and Frobisher’s close relationship in the film, they never actually speak to one another.
- Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent) comes into Robert Frobisher’s room saying he’s heard music in his dream from a violin. The music is, of course, the Cloud Atlas Sextet. In Neo Seoul, an old man is shown playing the Sextet on a violin, played by Jim Broadbent.
- Number 451 (Luisa Rey’s apartment and Somni-451) comes from a classic science fiction novel by Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451″. It denotes a temperature needed to burn books.
- With a budget of over $100,000,000, Cloud Atlas is one of the most expensive independent films to date.
- Doona Bae’s emotional presence was mostly attributed to being very alone when she arrived to Germany and only kept in touch with the cast and crew.
- Luisa Rey’s parents Lester and Judith Rey appear to be a tip of the hat to sci-fi publishing greats Lester and Judy-Lynn del Rey.
- The character played by actress Amanda Walker (“Veronica Costello”) is based in the popular song “Veronica” sung by Elvis Costello and written by Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney, that song tells the story of an old lady that is spending her final days in a nursing house, like the Veronica from this movie.
The name George appears at several parts of the movie:
- In 1849, Tupaka talks about the “Georgia Way”;
- In 1936, Vyvyan Ayrs comments about St. George statue;
- In 2012, Cavendish brothers related with Georgette;
- In 2321, Zachry is haunted by Old Georgie.
- All the characters played by Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving in the movie are villains.
- James D’Arcy is the only actor to play the same character (Rufus Sixsmith) in two different segments.
- The Jewel that Zachry (Tom Hanks) inspects at the beginning of the first post-apocalyptic sequence strongly resembles the buttons on Adam Ewing’s (Jim Sturgess) jacket.