From Book to Movie: Review–Cloud Atlas

cover links to imDB
Cloud Atlas

Summary (from imDB): An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

My review of the book: Review – Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Movie Review:

Despite giving the book a mediocre review, I went into the movie fully expecting to love it. I said in my book review that I thought I’d like the movie because I felt the writing in the book sort of hindered my enjoyment of the story/stories since I found it flashy and pretentious. Stripped of the writing, I thought I could relax and enjoy the story and the overall message. In my book review, I said that I liked some of the individual stories a lot. While I also understand the connection between all of them, I didn’t think it was necessary for all of them to be together in one book and the connection sort of tries too hard to be profound. I mainly felt they existed together to form a message about mankind but also to show off the author’s talent for writing various different ways. But even in film, I find that I dislike the short stories linked as one. I like some of the individual stories, but don’t like the overall picture as a whole.

It seems that Cloud Atlas doesn’t work for me in any form. I don’t like the story altogether. I think it tries too hard to be profound and life changing. It says a lot about mankind and I get the message and I even agree with it. But the execution (both book and film) makes me cringe. It doesn’t work for me. For whatever reason, I cannot love Cloud Atlas the way that I’d hoped I would.

I do think the movie is more bearable than the book because the viewer isn’t exposed to the writing in the novel. The overall theme is much more apparent in the movie, too, especially given that the same actors are used in each of the separate stories. The layout of the stories in the movie was different from the book. The book told each story in chronological order, all of them breaking off at the middle. Then, the final story was told in full and the last half of each story followed in reverse chronological order. The movie jumped around a lot more from story and story, cutting to scenes in each that bore a connection or similar theme. This technique helped bring home the major point of the movie in a more obvious way and I preferred it to the book, despite liking the book format as well. The movie lacks the same organizational structure, but the overall result was much easier to follow.

I could tell that the movie was done by people who loved the story and wanted to tell it well. I felt as if each detail was precise and well done and portrayed the book quite well. I liked the acting and makeup and I found the movie to be visually stunning and beautiful.

As with the book, I find I love the story of Sonmi the most. I wish I could have seen that part by itself. I feel that way about all of the stories, actually. To say that I didn’t enjoy parts of the movie would be a lie. As separate stories, they are great! It’s just that putting them all together in one movie just doesn’t work for me. I don’t like how all the stories exist as examples and means to an end and how it forces the viewer (and the reader of the book) to make these profound connections. Even though the connections are there and the stories lead us to the conclusion, it is too over the top for me. It just rubs me the wrong way.

Most reviews are positive and some even go as far as to assume that the negative reviewers just don’t “get” the movie, but I don’t think that’s true for everyone. I think many of us do get it, we just don’t like it and that’s okay. Cloud Atlas didn’t change my life. It says quite a bit about mankind on a profound level, but it still feels forced and pretentious to me and I dislike it for that reason. I’m left thinking Cloud Atlas tries too hard to be more important than it is.

I do recommend the movie to fans of good stories (adventure, comedy, love, music, dystopias, etc) with major overall messages about humanity and redemption. Like the book, I feel that there is an audience for the story and most people who will get the message will appreciate it. It doesn’t work for me, but that doesn’t make it a terrible story and I recommend figuring out if it’s right for you.


5 thoughts on “From Book to Movie: Review–Cloud Atlas

  1. I understand how you feel. Your review is well stated and I'm glad you're the kind of blogger who gives your opinion but still encourages readers to see for themselves how they feel about a story. Means a lot that you are always fair!! 🙂 so, well done 🙂

    As you know, I was deeply touched by the film and love it more than the book but still enjoyed the book. For me, it was profound. Maybe it's because of the feelings I've always had about death, love and reincarnation. It sort of said what I've been thinking for so long.

    The symbolism of repetitive history and the answer it gives as to why justify is repetitive is awesome in my opinion. Sonmi's speech resonated with me. It's an interesting theory as to why things repeat. But I'm not naive about how it really is…hateful people tend to raise hateful people and so on and that has always been my answer as to why history repeates. Narrow minds breed narrow minds. Open minds breed open minds. People are influenced by others. But isn't that what Sonmi said? 🙂

    The rest of the stories mean a great deal to me also. I just thought I'd hit on Sonmi's since you mention loving her story. It is exciting to view on screen. Colorful. I really enjoyed it.

    I enjoyed the entire thing all together.

    The author wrote each story individually and then in 20 minutes, he chopped them and connected them into the finished work that he shows us. I understand why you'd want to read them individually and see the connection that way. Even if they were all in one book, each story in full may have been easier to swallow and digest.

    I'm rambling… 😉

    I could talk about it forever. I just loved it!! And I definitely got it. Oh! And in response to critics claiming most people didn't get it…in my experience, the friends I urged to see it in the theater phoned to tell me they didn't understand what had happened or what was going on at all. So, I agree to a degree that many didn't understand it.

    Okay… I'm done. Lol

    Love love love this story. ❤


  2. It is a shame that it didn't resonate with me the same way it did for you. For whatever reason, I just don't like the overall story and the implied connection between the parts.
    I know a lot of people probably don't get it, but I felt as if the reviews implied something else with those comments. That it's the kind of story only a select few will get and so the ones who do gather in their intellectual corners scowling at the rest of the human population, enjoying being on their high horses. I feel like the story breeds that kind of attitude and will end up being one of those pseudo-intellectual things with a cult following of people who think they're better than others. (You have not shown this attitude, but I got that feeling from some of the book and movie reviews which is why I mention it).
    I find the story to be pretentious and the attitude of many of the fans reflect it back. Perhaps that's why the entire thing just rubs me the wrong way.
    I don't like the reincarnation aspect or the redemption through love theme. I only agree with the repetition of mistakes through mankind and the courage it takes to do the right thing. So I think that's also why I dislike the story. But you and I differ greatly on those sorts of things. =)

    I think that's why I love the stories separately. Without the reincarnation and soul redemption, they are just stories of courage and I can appreciate that individually without a higher meaning. (forgive me for writing a long ass comment, I think I'm trying to type out my own inner conflict and figure out as I go what I truly disliked about it.)


  3. Lol. It's ALL good.

    I agree that there are fans who will form those kinds of groups and look down on people for not getting it or feeling the same way about it. Sucks.
    I'm glad I don't come off that way because you know it's not what I meant. Thanks for making that clear. Lol

    Long replys are not discouraged.

    Your blog should be hopping with discussion always!!! You make very valid points.


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