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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.

Cloud Atlas, Jim Sturgess, Asian
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!

Cloud Atlas Bae Doona Tom Hanks
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.

Cloud Atlas, Hugo Weaving
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.

Cloud Atlas Top Hat
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.

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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