"Cloud Atlas," adapted by the Wachowskis and Tykwer from David Mitchell's multi-period novel, stars Tom Hanks (who worked at a discounted rate and gave up his usual back end), Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, James D'Arcy, Doona Bae, Zhou Xun and Keith David, with Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant. The actors play multiple roles as the stories progress through time.
Warner's Dan Fellman states, “Audiences who have seen an early screening of ‘Cloud Atlas’ have been elated by its powerful and inspiring story, as well as its breathtaking visuals. An October release in North America is the perfect window to showcase this epic film.” It's also perfect timing to kick off an Oscar campaign.
From The New Yorker's description of the novel:
Mitchell's virtuosic novel presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a naïve clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage; an aspiring composer who insinuates himself into the home of a syphilitic genius; a journalist investigating a nuclear plant; a publisher with a dangerous best-seller on his hands; and a cloned human being created for slave labor. These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel. Only after this do the second halves of the stories fall into place, pulling the novel's themes into focus: the ease with which one group enslaves another, and the constant rewriting of the past by those who control the present. Against such forces, Mitchell's characters reveal a quiet tenacity. When the clerk is told that his life amounts to "no more than one drop in a limitless ocean," he asks, "Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"