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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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03:05 - The futuristic city of Nea So Copros, in Korea, the setting for Sonmi-451's tale.

03:08 - As might be clear from this, the Korea-set segment is likely to be where the bulk of action and effects take place. There seems to be a fairly nifty speeder-bike chase here. It has been reported that the Wachowskis directed this section, and we believe the Luisa Rey and Zachry storylines too, with Tykwer taking the others. Though that isn't quite confirmed just yet.

03:20 - This appears to be from the final, post-apocalyptic section, and may or may not be the ruins of Nea So Copros.

03:37 - "The problem you create is a political one." Hey, that voice sounds familiar to Wachowski fans!

03:41 - Unless we're very off the mark, that's Bae Doona in a second role, as Hanks' blonde, blue-eyed companion. Why she has a protractor on her forehead, we're not quite sure.

04:06 - Something of a money shot here, as Luisa Rey is rammed off a bridge into the water. Does she survive? Who knows? As the next title card ("Death") makes clear, not every protagonist survives their tale. Each storyline in the novel has a cliffhanger built in to it, picked up later, but the draft of the script that we read had changed that structure significantly.

04:27 - There he is! Wachowski favorite Hugo Weaving makes his first appearance. We're not clear who he plays, but it's presumably in the 1850s-set storyline, judging by those mutton chops.

04:49 - We're very curious about this shot with the slow-motion crockery, as it doesn't correspond to any scene we can recall from the book (though it's possible it slipped us by). Either way, that's Whishaw as Frobisher and D'Arcy as a younger Sixsmith.

04:57 - Diving off the boat there (and seen later on too) is young British actor David Gyasi, recently seen giving an impressive performance in the BBC's "White Heat." In this section at least, we think he plays Autua, a stowaway.

05:00 - Even with a better image like the one to your left, we can't tell who plays this mysterious figure (Weaving? Grant? Keith David?) and can't recall where he fits into the story, though we suspect it's in the Zachry section. Natty top hat, though, and an impressive make-up job (the film's already looking like a front-runner in that Oscar category).

05:25 - Luisa's car spins through the water, as the cast list comes up. The only billed actor not glimpsed at all during the trailer, as best as we can tell, is Chinese actress Zhou Xun.

We'll find out it if it all adds up when "Cloud Atlas" hits theaters on October 26th.

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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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