Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Friday Box Office: 'Adaline' Bumps 'Furious' for a Day; 'Kurt Cobain' Big in 3 Theaters Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Remembering Film Critic Richard Corliss (1944-2015) Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" Cannes: Denis Villeneuve Says Drug War Film 'Sicario' Is "Very Dark" and "Quite Violent" How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) Meet the Director of 'Tangerines,' the 2015 Dark Horse Oscar Nominee You Missed (Exclusive Video) LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film LA Film Fest Unveils Horror Slate, More World Premieres, Zoe Cassavetes Film Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Immersed in Movies: Uli Hanisch and Hugh Bateup Talk 'Cloud Atlas' Production Design

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood December 19, 2012 at 1:30PM

While "Cloud Atlas" may be the most polarizing movie of the year (winding up on both year-end best and worst lists), there's no denying its ambition and beauty: it's the ultimate time travel movie about connecting and reconnecting and grappling with free will and destiny.
0
Cloud Atlas
Doona Bae in 'Cloud Atlas'

While "Cloud Atlas" may be the most polarizing movie of the year (winding up on both year-end best and worst lists), there's no denying its ambition and beauty: it's the ultimate time travel movie about connecting and reconnecting and grappling with free will and destiny. And the production design plays a crucial role in defining the six periods that overlap the 500-year ripple.

However, it made sense both economically and logistically to split the "Cloud Atlas" production into two units, with designer Hugh Bateup ("The Matrix Reloaded," "The Matrix Revolutions," "Speed Racer") working with Andy and Lana Wachowski and Uli Hanisch collaborating with Tom Tykwer ("Heaven," "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," "Three"). Team Wachowski was responsible for Victorian 1849 in the South Pacific, 2144 in Neo Seoul, and the cataclysmic aftermath of 2321 (paired with the 2346 epilogue). Team Tykwer was tasked with 1936 in Scotland, 1973 in San Francisco, and 2012 in England.

The look and the logic were driven somewhat by the period each story was set in. The Victorian era was an all-encompassing and dominating style, according to Bateup, which in turn was connected to the sea and the landscape-- all reflecting the master and servant relationship (played by Hugh Grant and David Gyasi).

"Adam Ewing [the idealistic San Francisco attorney played by Jim Sturgess] had the Jeux de Position, of the starchy Victorian era and the exotic Chatham Islands, interesting period interiors mixed with tribal and farm estate exteriors," Bateup reveals. "Sonmi 45, however, was drawing away from the world we know; original designs had to be formulated but with a thread of a connection to our existing world. By the time we reach Zachry [the damaged yet decent goatherd played by Tom Hanks], the threads are gossamer thin and a new world has been created from an apocalyptic event, with the survivors drawing on all means both natural and man-made, available to them."

For the Neo Seoul world where the oceans have risen above ground, the wealthy keep building higher and higher while the poorer communities below are under constant threat. "One doesn't have to look to far to see the connection between this dystopian world, and our own society, where some places are undesirable and frightening and far from the Utopia we would all like to live in," Bateup continues. "The sheer volume of mankind building layer upon layer of existence, whether it be physical or social: 'The weak are meat, the strong do eat.'

"Even though the world had suffered a cataclysmic disaster, and mankind had survived, we had to retain a gossamer thread with the previous existence, a connection, a continuity: the survivors drawing on the natural resources available to them, but also using materials that had logically survived the apocalypse: materials that we find so hard to recycle. A continuity of forgotten technology linked the two stories and allowed for an original design look without falling into the usual traps."

This article is related to: Immersed In Movies, Cloud Atlas, Production , Interviews , VFX


E-Mail Updates