I recall the first time, as an adolescent, that I encountered, a painting by Caravaggio, I knew without being able to adequately express the reasons why, that I had experienced a masterpiece. I felt the same when viewing 'Cloud Atlas' for the first time yesterday. That I will see it again, and again, is a given. And having read David Mitchell's novel some months ago was certainly beneficial to comprehension of this work of art, That it will not be 'everyones cup of tea' is also accepted.
The movie’s six episodes are set in six time periods, and it is important that the viewer, remember 'that everything is connected': :
— 1849, an American doctor helps a slave escape;
— 1936, a young British composer seeks to free himself from the authority of an older one;
— 1973, an American journalist seeks to reveal the dangers of a San Francisco nuclear power plant;
— 2012, a British editor seeks to escape from a nursing home;
— 2144, a clone-slave, or “replicant,” in Neo Seoul flees captivity to expose the truth of that society; and in a distant post-apocalyptic future, that replicant’s message, a sort of gospel for a persecuted sect, inspires the survival of civilized humanity on a distant planet.
Perhaps the most insightful online review of the film is that of Roger Ebert, Mr Ebert concludes his review with:
"I was never, ever bored by "Cloud Atlas." On my second viewing, I gave up any attempt to work out the logical connections between the segments, stories and characters. What was important was that I set my mind free to play. Clouds do not really look like camels or sailing ships or castles in the sky. They are simply a natural process at work. So too, perhaps, are our lives. Because we have minds and clouds do not, we desire freedom. That is the shape the characters in "Cloud Atlas" take, and how they attempt to direct our thoughts. Any concrete, factual attempt to nail the film down to cold fact, to tell you what it "means," is as pointless as trying to build a clockwork orange.
But, oh, what a film this is! And what a demonstration of the magical, dreamlike qualities of the cinema. And what an opportunity for the actors. And what a leap by the directors, who free themselves from the chains of narrative continuity. And then the wisdom of the old man staring into the flames makes perfect sense."