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

by Oliver Lyttelton
July 26, 2012 3:29 PM
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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.

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.

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'll just have to wait and see...

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.

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  • Jimi | October 10, 2012 12:42 PMReply

    The "mysterious figure" at 5:00 in the top hat is Old George, played by Hugo Weaving.

  • YELLOW | August 22, 2012 5:06 PMReply

    Lol the blonde at 3:41 is definitely Zhou Xun, not Doona Bae.

  • Nik | August 11, 2012 11:53 AMReply

    Zhou Xun is the blonde with the protractor on her head. She says she plays 3 characters in the movie.

  • Noah | July 29, 2012 6:14 AMReply

    "Sixsmith, Dreamt I stood in a china shop so crowded from floor to far-off ceiling with shelves of porcelain antiquities etc. that moving a muscle would cause several to fall and smash to bits. Exactly what happened, but instead of a crashing noise, an august chord rang out, half-cello, half-celeste, D major (?), held for four beats. My wrist knocked a Ming vase affair off its pedestal—E-flat, whole string section, glorious, transcendent, angels wept." Sounds like that's where the bullet time slow motion comes into play. Looks stunning.

  • mindsale | July 28, 2012 7:42 AMReply

    The gent in the top hat is Ol' Georgie, the islanders' religious trickster figure. Like Satan, if he were in a minstrel show. Also, before reading this, I had absolutely no idea that was Sturgess, Grant, or Berry - the makeup is absolutely phenomenal. I'm guessing Weaving's "political problem" character will also be Korean.

  • Freddy | July 28, 2012 7:40 AMReply

    WHOA..just realised some of the disguised roles.Jim Sturgess makeup becoming an Asian is impressive as he really does look like a japaneses guy in those makeup.Even Berry looks convincing in a red saree

  • Ben | July 27, 2012 10:13 PMReply

    I believe the crockery shot at 4:49 is a reference to the antics Frobisher committed with Sixsmith to get himself kicked out of the Frobishery.

    I'm thrilled with this trailer and can't wait to see the full movie.

  • feihong | July 27, 2012 3:48 PMReply

    The blond woman with the protractor drawn on her forehead is actually Zhou Xun, not Bae Doona.

  • Diana | July 27, 2012 2:37 AMReply

    You can't get a clear look at her face, but from the stills released it looks like Bae Doona (in a curly, strawberry blonde wig) is also playing Ewing's wife Tilda in the 1850 storyline, so there is a kind of symmetry there, with Sturgess playing a Asian character and Bae playing a Caucasian one.

  • jingmei | July 26, 2012 10:12 PMReply

    Looks like impactly too much.

  • jingmei | July 26, 2012 10:17 PM

    And maybe one of the tricks of this film is making every actor into transition of a totally different ethnic character or gender.

  • dag | July 26, 2012 9:57 PMReply

    The "mysterious figure" at 5:00 must be Georgie, the phantom who taunts Zachry at different moments in the Big Island chapter.

  • Candi | July 26, 2012 9:08 PMReply

    I think that's James D'Arcy at 1:53 not Jim Sturgess.

  • Ahnmin | July 26, 2012 6:28 PMReply

    Bae Doona is also at 4:38 as Jim Sturgess's wife.

  • Sean Young | July 26, 2012 6:04 PMReply

    Why the hell didn't WB attach this to TDKR?

  • dsweet | July 26, 2012 6:19 PM

    Seriously. It seems like a missed opportunity. It would have upped this movie's profile.

  • Jiao Chen | July 26, 2012 4:44 PMReply

    I'm pretty sure the blonde girl next to Tom Hanks at 3:41 is Zhou Xun with impressive make up.

  • Diana | July 27, 2012 2:34 AM

    Seconded. Here she is without the makeup:

  • Sean Young | July 26, 2012 3:52 PMReply

    Sturgess looks terrible in the Asian make-up. Aside from that I give this movie 50/50 chances of being unwatchable or amazing.

  • Kotomi | July 27, 2012 11:31 AM

    I'm pretty sure it will win the Oscar for make-up.Jim Sturgess looks great,too. It's almost impossible for Caucasian actor plays Asian.But make-up artists of this film did great job.And Sturgess is very talented.

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