By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 26, 2012 at 3:29PM
A pleasant surprise arrived today in the form of a lengthy trailer for "Cloud Atlas," the much-anticipated adaptation of David Mitchell's novel by The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer. Anyone who's read the book -- a sprawling, genre-hopping, puzzle-box of a story -- will know it's a tough nut to crack, but the clip, now available in HD at Apple, suggests that the filmmakers have managed to handle the diversity of the visuals even if it's yet to be seen if the film works as a whole.
Just under a whopping six minutes, it's an incredibly dense trailer, and one that could be quite confusing for those unfamiliar with the material. So we've dug deep into it to try and help make sense of it, both for newcomers and fans of the book alike. Read on for more, and be aware of some mild spoilers.
0:04- The first thing we see here is a boat -- most likely the Prophetess, on which American notary Adam Ewing sails in 1850.
0:10 - And here is Adam Ewing himself. We'd figured that Tom Hanks would play him, but in fact, it's Jim Sturgess in the role. He's trying to get home to his wife in San Francisco from the Chatham Islands, near New Zealand, but is treated by Dr. Henry Goose (played by Hanks), who believes he has a deadly brain parasite, as seen in this shot.
0.37 - Frobisher's segment of the tale is told in letters written to a friend, Rufus Sixsmith. He's seen as an old man here (as played by "Master & Commander" star James D'Arcy, under heavy old-age make-up), and also features as a character in the next segment, which stars...
00:49 - As was revealed long ago, and is clear from the trailer, the actors are, for the most part, playing multiple characters, although it's unclear if all will feature in all six storylines. Here, we're in the fourth segment, set in present-day Britain, and we can see Hanks, seemingly as gangster Dermot "Duster" Hoggins, who has written a book, managed by Jim Broadbent's literary agent Timothy Cavendish. We later see him throwing a literary critic off a roof. As far as we remember, the character we see Berry as in the reverse is a new addition, suggesting that the filmmakers have tried to draw the storylines even more closely together.
00:59 - We're back in the 1970s section with Hugh Grant, who appears to be playing Alberto Grimaldi, the CEO of nuclear energy company Seaboard. Grant has said in interviews that all of the characters he plays in the film are bad guys, which should be fun.