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Hopefully by now you've taken a look at the stunning first trailer for Cloud Atlas, the massive new film directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski (they of The Matrix) along with Tom Tykwer (he of Run Lola Run). The movie is adapted from David Mitchell's equally gigantic novel, and don't worry if you didn't quite get it all the first time you watched it-- it's a really, really complicated novel, consisting of six different stories that take place across a millennium and link up in unexpected ways.
I don't want to explain too much of it to you, since there are a lot of fun things to discover on your own, but it seemed worth pointing out a few of the neat things in the trailer you'd only notice if you knew what you were looking for. So first of all, here's the basic rundown of the six different stories, along with an image in the trailer that comes from that part and the names of the actors playing the characters, when possible. The trailer makes the film look very very faithful to the book, so I'm expecting most of these details will be correct in the final film.
The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing
Ewing (Jim Sturgess) is an American attorney from San Francisco who is trying to travel from Australia back home via a merchant ship traveling the South Pacific. It's around 1850, and while the ship is stopped for repairs Ewing explores the "savage" island where they've stopped, and befriends British doctor Henry Goose (Tom Hanks), who winds up being an extremely colorful character. He also witnesses a native man being whipped, which is where Hugo Weaving appears to fit into this story as well. Ewing keeps a diary (duh), and it eventually winds up in the hands of….
Letter from Zedelghem
…Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw), an English aspiring composer in the 1930s who travels to visit his idol Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent), who eventually brings Frobisher on as an amanuensis (basically, assistant). Frobisher clashes with Ayrs and eventually causes a lot more trouble in the house thanks to relationships with Ayrs's wife (Halle Berry) and his daughter. He recounts his experiences in a series of letters to his friend…
Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery
…Sixsmith, who we only meet 40 years later when he is an old man, a physicist retiring from a nuclear plant and passing on incendiary information to young aspiring journalist Luisa Rey (Halle Berry). As she investigates the story she befriends another scientist with insider information (Tom Hanks) and encounters a lot of trouble from both the energy company and the government, who want her to keep quiet. Her story plays out a lot like a detective story, which makes a lot of sense as it's later turned into a manuscript read by…
The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish
…Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent), a pompous and self-regarding book publisher in London in what's roughly the present day. He makes a fortune selling the book of a man (Tom Hanks) who becomes a murderer, but also winds up in hot water with the author's brother, causing him to hide out at a nursing home in the countryside that, mysteriously, won't let him go. We don't really know why or how, but eventually his story wounds up turned into a movie watched by…
An Orison of Sonmi-451
…Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae), a "fabricant' programmed to work in a cafeteria in a futuristic city, in a country that somewhat resembles South Korea. Sonmi-451 is being interrogated in her story, but she vividly describes the life of a fabricant and how she came to have more knowledge than any humans expected of her-- kind of like a computer program becoming self-aware. The scope of her story is limited, but she's referenced frequently in the distant future by a character called….
Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After
…Zachary (Tom Hanks), a man living on the island that used to be Hawaii, now a primitive society that's survived long after the rest of civilization was destroyed. Zachary comes in contact with a woman, Meronym (Halle Berry), who has knowledge of the destroyed past, and the two of them begin teaming up to… well, do something big. You can discover that for yourself. But as you might be able to tell from the title, this entire story is narrated by Zachary in a kind of pidgin English-- sample sentence: "I never got back to our tenptin' tho', or I'd not be sittin' here yarnin' to you." It's still totally unclear how they'll translate that to the film.
As you might be able to tell, these stories are all nested within each other, so Ewing leads to Frobisher on down to Zachary, whose story is told in full before leading back to Somni-451 then to Timothy, etc. I'm betting the movie won't have quite such a rigorous structure, and they seem to be emphasizing even more connections between all the characters than are present in the book, but it's impossible to tell any of that for sure from the trailer.
Below you can see a giant gallery of some of the best images from the trailer, including stunning scenery and some remarkable actor transformations. But in case you missed them, you can catch most of the actors playing multiple roles in the trailer, particularly Halle Berry and Tom Hanks, who are featured as four different people entirely. Here's who each of them seem to be playing:
(Top Left) Jocasta Ayrs. Of Letter From Zedelghem. The wife of Vyvyan Ayrs.
(Top Right) Luisa Rey. Of Half-Lives. The main character.
(Bottom Left) Unnamed Partygoer. of Timothy Cavendish. Likely a side character or just a cameo.
(Bottom Right) Meronym.Of Sloosha's Crossin'. A main character.
(Top Left) Dr. Henry Goose Of Adam Ewing. A main character.
(Top Right) Dr. Isaac Sachs Of Half-Lives. A somewhat major character.
(Bottom Left) Dermot Hoggins Of Timothy Cavendish. A minor character.
(Bottom Right) Zachary Of Sloosha's Crossin'. The main character.
And, in case you missed him, Hugh Grant popped up in just two roles, and one in which you're totally unlikely to recognize him. He's in the Sloosha's Crossin' section, as an antagonist for Hanks's character. Take a look at him below.
And now, finally, get a look at the image gallery, and chime in in the comments if you recognized any other actors in roles I haven't specified. There's a lot to see her, and hopefully at least some of you are intrigued enough to pick up Cloud Atlas before it comes to theaters October 26 this year.
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