When imagery and trailers started spilling from the ongoing production of upcoming sci-fi movie Cloud Atlas, people had one of two reactions: Either they were impressed by what they saw yet concerned by how such a complex, high-concept novel might transition to the silver screen, or they were impressed yet convinced that the complexity of the tale would guarantee that any film based on the story would necessarily fail to attract an audience. We’ve yet to decide which side of the argument our collective opinion falls on, but a recent interview with stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry helps out quite a bit.
Hanks and Berry recently sat down with the fine folks at general purpose film fan site Flicks And Bits to discuss exactly how directors Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix) planned to transform David Mitchell’s 2004 novel Cloud Atlas into a functional, coherent film. Given the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel’s size and the circuitous nature of its plot (which focuses on characters who exist in different incarnations throughout various eras) that can’t have been an easy task, but Hanks and Berry both seem excited by the challenge.
“When I heard they were gonna make a German blockbuster written in Costa Rica I said, ‘I’m in!’ because I’ve never heard of such a bodacious United Nations approach to making a film before,” Hanks said when asked to describe his experience working on Cloud Atlas. “These guys had gone off and were aiming at this sort of piece of cinematic literature, and all we really had to do was read the blueprint to see what was expected of us. I said, ‘Well, that sounds like all the things acting in movies is supposed to be. It’s going to be brilliant fun, we get to go to cool places, it will be very very hard work on occasion — and we’ll go through some sort of emotional trench to get at the moments that [are] very well highlighted in both the book and the screenplay,” he added.
Berry echoed Hanks’ comments when asked the same question, but also praised Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tyker for having a clear vision of their film prior to shooting. “… what was so beautiful about it is Lana and Andy speak as one person. They finish each other sentences, their thoughts are the same, they’ve talked about this for so long that the vision is clear and there’s a safe feeling that came with that. I would have tried anything they said because I figured, ‘If I hadn’t thought about it, I knew they had, and it just might work.’” Berry said.
While it’s nice to hear beloved actors who genuinely seem to enjoy working on their latest project, the above quotations do little to explain how this film adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel might succeed among viewers. “I think it is a perfect blending of the literature of David Mitchell and the cinematic power of Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski,” Hanks stated. “I think, if you could use a term of what this type of movie is, it’s not six different movies, it’s not even two different movies, it is one example of cinematic literature that examines the connectedness of the human race through all of time.”
“And it was all totally worth it … if only to see, Hugh Grant as a cannibal walking around the film studio during the makeup session,” Hanks added, laughing.
Given how rarely Hanks disappoints audiences, and his seemingly endless wellspring of charisma, his words go a long way toward convincing us that Cloud Atlas might be a very, very impressive film. Cloud Atlas is currently scheduled to make its silver screen debut on October 26, and barring any major catastrophes or production delays, you can expect us to be standing at the front of line as soon as tickets go on sale.