#1 Lack of Artistic Collaboration >>>
This film is adapted from David Mitchell’s novel; and for those who believe (or argue) that if, a work of art has reached full artistic expression in one form, an adaptation will inevitably be inferior… The Coen Brothers’ 2007 masterpiece No Country For Old Men and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange are proofs that such belief simply isn’t true—it can be done.
Theorists coined a term, “rapports de production” which illustrates and investigates the relationship between artist and observer using a triangle. As you can see, the process of film making is no easy feat because interactive collaboration between both parties is critical. That said; film making isn’t rocket science either. So long as directors understand basic principles of the art form, their visions can be conveyed.
To put simply, if Cloud Atlas is well executed—the value observers gain from their cinematic experience is profound or at the very least, worth giving a shit. The effect is emotional / spiritual / psychological / mental fulfillment.
But the problem with Cloud Atlas is, attention is solely focused on the obscure visions and illogical themes (debunked in analyses here and here), with no heed whatsoever being paid to observers who reward this so-called “art” with viewership (time, attention, effort, money). By failing to deliver, the film is making mockery out of 1) cineliteracy, 2) rigorous directors (Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard, Michael Haneke, Wong Kar Wai) and 3) movie goers who actually respect and love film aesthetics.
Some points to note for those about to watch this film.
#2 Characters & Timeline >>>
Like the novel, six stories (set in different eras) interweave and actors double up as different characters in various eras from the past—19th century to the future—post-apocalyptic 24th century.
#3 Contextual Flaw in Editing >>>
Story begins with confusing montage that defy linear timelines for no good reason. [For examples, see Memento and Amour for how timelines are manipulated to advantage.] So don’t waste any time trying to understand the structure because no thoughts were being invested to its form and function.
This film’s (jagged and broken) non-linear editing is a cop-out passing off as being “abstract”; for the challenging task of fusing six stories in one graceful, coherent tapestry. The real shame is; if done right, this tapestry serves as symbolic-simultaneity between two entities—the consciousness and the cinema.
Potential in an elegant rhetorical device is squandered blindly.
Big, relative, complex, transcendental subjects (physics and philosophy) are best reserved for rigorous filmmakers with wit enough to shoulder the ethical weight of exploring such life changing themes. There is a wide spectrum from slapstick, fantasy, sci-fi to tragedy for anyone to choose from. And there are so many decent works in modern archives to illustrate this point, but I’m starting to sound like a horoscope so I shall stop here.
[The point is Cloud Atlas is thematically inconsistent in its editing narrative.]
#4 Vacant References to Futuristic Language and Philosophical Clichés >>>
By that I mean:
1) centri = centre and thus “eurocentric” = centered on Europe
2) brachio = arm and thus “bracelet” = chain worn on arms
3) pute = think and thus “impute” = to attribute, to think of as
No prize for guessing what “cog” and “true-true” mean.
This pattern manifests again in the third act of Neo Seoul segment when The Archivist lambastes at Sonmi, and spouts new terminologies such as “corprocrats”, “psychogenomicist”. But don’t be floored, the gesture is just speculative “originality” on the part of Cloud Atlas—a cheap shot taken from emerging transdiscplinary trends in the sciences.
#5 Ten-dollar words (Ockham’s Razor Fail) >>>
1) drinking something becomes “imbibe”
2) deviance becomes “reprobate”
3) stupid becomes “lout”
#6 Parallelisms & Agenda >>>
If after all the negative reviews from respectable critics… for one reason or another, you find yourself with three vacant hours insignificant enough to attempt mental gymnastics in futility. This film isn’t worth a damn.