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Our Lives Are Not Our Own: Deconstructing The 'Cloud Atlas' Trailer

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton 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.
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Cloud Atlas, Tom Hanks, blonde
01:14 - And here's Hanks' character in the Luisa Rey tale -- it looks like he plays Isaac Sachs, a whistleblowing scientist.

01:25 - This is Susan Sarandon's only real shot in the trailer, although her voice comes into play later on. Here, in the Timothy Cavendish segment, she seems to play Ursula, Cavendish's long-lost love (a fairly minor part of the story).

01:31 - And then we leap into a distant apocalyptic future, for the sixth storyline, entitled "Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rything' After" in the book. Written in a curious, made-up dialect (which seems to have been dropped) it shows Valleysman Zachry (Hanks) coming across Meronym (Berry), a member for a more advanced tribe from across the sea.

Doona Bae and Jim Sturgess In "Cloud Atlas"
01:51 - And finally, we meet our last protagonist: Sonmi-451 (Bae Doona, of "Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance" and "The Host"). She's a clone, designed to serve in fast food restaurants, who leads a rebellion.

01:53 - It seems that Ben Whishaw wasn't kidding last year when he said the characters were playing different genders and races: this is Jim Sturgess, given a slightly questionable, strangely Keanu-like Asian makeover, probably as Hae-Joo Im, a postgraduate student who turns out to be more than he appears.

02:27 - Here we see the inciting incident of Timothy Cavendish's plotline (which, as the toilet plunger might make clear, is more comic in tone than the rest). Dustin's sons come calling to extract their father's share of his book sales, calling Cavendish (who's been embezzling the funds) to flee and accidentally become trapped in a nursing home for the elderly.

Hugh Grant, make-up Cloud Atlas,skip crop
02:43 - It's not entirely clear who Sturgess is playing in the far-future section: he could be a younger version of Hanks' character, but given the shot of Hanks hiding and weeping, it looks like he's Adam, the brother of Zachry.

02:44 - And as a member of the rival tribe, the Kona: it's a surprisingly menacing Hugh Grant, as you've literally never seen him before.

02:48 - That nifty building opening up like a flower is an observatory. As for what they find in there...you'll just have to wait and see...

Cloud Atlas, ?
02:51 - There's Hanks in his fourth (or first, depending on how you look at it) part, as Dr. Henry Goose. It does seem that, given his A-list status, he gets the lion share of parts, particularly as there are some actors -- Whishaw in particular -- we never see in more than one role. We're sure they'll crop up elsewhere.

02:54: Berry, with white hair (presumably playing older than her age) and tattooed features. Assuming this matches the shot before, she'll play one of the indigenious people in the first, 1850s-set storyline.

This article is related to: Cloud Atlas, The Wachowskis, Tom Tykwer, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon, Bae Doona, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw


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