The best movie of 2012 and possible one of the best movies of the decade. And it's finally fanedited... into an amazing and new experience.
"Cloud Atlas" is proof that truly original, thought-provoking and intelligent blockbusters can be produced, and produced well. It also displays huge creativity and workmanship on a scale rarely seen in the multiplexes these days. It’s set in the past and the future; it’s every genre – it’s every movie that’s worth seeing.
Now, nesting doll structure (aka book structure) of the edit helps to focus more on the individual stories which are part of one big story of the humanity. We can still see and feel all these connections and that the characters can “hear” each others’ voices through the ages. I’m happy to finally have that version of the movie that was on my mind for a long time.
Is the fanedit better than original movie. No… it’s different and it points a new direction. It can be seen (multiple times) for newcomers and those who have seen the original movie and yet, there is still a lot of things to be discovered.
If because of the mosaic structure the movie didn’t get the deserved attention, now there is an opportunity to see it in a straight way.
Since this is a recut of the movie, mostly changing its structure, I'll start by reviewing the movie. When Cloud Atlas came out in 2012, it was dividing. Ebert called it a "daring and visionary film", giving it a perfect score. Kermode called it an "honorable failure" (though he has been kinder to it on a second watch). Some put it on the list of the best films of the year, some on list of the worst.
Me? I first watched Cloud Atlas on a plane. I had no idea what the movie was about, who it was by, or that there was a book, and I was looking for something that I wouldn't feel too bad about watching on such a small screen, something light and unimportant (ha). I remembered Lindsay Ellis calling it one of her favorite movies of the year, so I watched it. Needless to say, it exceeded my expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I was still thinking about it when I got off the plane. I was shocked I hadn't heard of it, that I had heard no critic talking about it, and that I hadn't seen it in cinemas. I had seen the trailer, but I don't remember seeing a single review in the major papers of my country. I didn't hear about it when it was released, so I didn't watch it. The more I thought about it, the more details I didn't understand. The very small details that demanded interpretation. And as time has gone by, I have read, studied and written about the novel, I have rewatched the film, and seen several critical positions towards both of them (I recommend Kyle Kallgren). Now I realize some of the details I didn't quite get were simply small details that didn't work, symbols that stopped working. In other words, the film's flaws. It is flawed. Very. Not details you don't understand, but things you do understand... and realize they don't work.
Main point so far: the movie is flawed. But it is also ambitious, it has some great cinematography, a gorgeous soundtrack, and it tries to tell several stories in a way we rarely see. Now, it's not that there are no movies like Cloud Atlas (actually, there are a lot, beginning with Griffith's Intolerance), but they are not made often. And this one is well made. Yes, Cloud Atlas has problems, but I do not believe its problems outweight its potential, or its good qualities.
Okay, now for the edit: The book is written as a nesting doll structure, the movie is a mosaic. That is the first major change in the original movie. The other big change is having the same actors in all the stories, and implies that they are souls reincarnating. While the book does imply that the character with a birthmark is the same soul, the movies makes it more likely that the actors represent each soul in its travelling. And yet, they keep the birthmark. You could then try to interpret it as the birthmark still meaning reincarnation and each actor representing an aspect of humanity, saying that Hugo Weaving always represents an oppressing, greedy organization, but it does not work in cases like Tom Hanks. No, the movie's implication is that the actors are the souls. Unless there is a better interpretation (that I feel would be overly complicated), the comet is one of those flaws I mentioned.
And these changes are the one this fanedit is concerned with. This fan edit tries to make the movie more like the book, putting it in the nesting doll structure order. The short version: it is really well made. It cannot be perfect, because the movie was designed as a mosaic. So you can often see or hear the cuts in the edit: sometimes there is fade to black, sometimes a song is used to connect two scenes. But that is to be expected, and it just serves to better show how it was done. A few times, when it changes from story to story it will seem a bit abrupt, but that also happens in the original movie, and in the book, and at times that is the effect they are all going for.
Now, it is not entirely cut up, nor can it be. It does keep some sequences from the original movie in which the stories were juxtaposed to great effect. The best example is the final speech from Hugo Weaving over the image of Somni 451's final moments. It is a deliberate attempt to show the connection, and it is kept here. It would be impossible to edit it diferently, adding another audio to that image or adding another image to that audio.
The result? The editing becomes a bit more obvious, but not to the point of disengagement. The stories are told more linearly, and perhaps it will be easier to connect to each one individually. But I never had that problem with the original movie. I was never disengaged from one of the stories because of the mosaic structure. Some people were, and maybe this edit could fix that for them. But I didn't have that problem. In fact, in the mosaic structure, where we would return to each story again and again with little time in between, I felt it was easier to return to them than here, where a whole movie's running time has passed between each part of the Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing. To clarify, I didn't have trouble returning to that story after all the others were told, but telling it bits by bits in the original movie did seem easier to me.
I feel like a mosaic structure is more better for a film's running time than the nesting doll structure that the book uses... but only slightly. Watching this edit, in the nesting doll structure was also a good experience. It didn't change much for the better, but it was in no way a "worse experience" than watching the mosaic structure. It was just different. Do I think the nesting doll structure works best for a movie's running time than for a book you read chapter by chapter? Only a little bit. But, again, there is no major change. I do wonder if the nesting doll structure wouldn't work better if Cloud Atlas was a miniseries, and you watched it episode by episode.
This is an edit that had to be made and had to be analyzed. I believe the result is an experience very similar to the movie, it shows us another way the movie could have been made, and it might be better for people that felt disconnected from the stories. But since I didn't feel disconnected from it to begin with, it's not a very different experience for me.
Something that does bother me is the ending title, showing the birthmark carriers and declaring "the journey of one soul through six lives". The sixtuple casting and the birthmark just don't work together. The original movie implies the actors represent the souls. This edit finishes by declaring the birthmark carriers are the one soul, like in the book. You can't have both. But that problem was already in the original movie, this just makes it more evident.
All in all, it's an interesting edit to see and compare to the movie. Very well done.
The theatrical version of Cloud Atlas sits on my shelf, unwatched so far. It's a movie that was always on my radar, but I never got around to checking it out. So when I heard about this edit, and read the reviews, I went and bought a retail copy. But I wanted to watch this version before the theatrical, as it seemed that watching this edit could serve as a better introduction to the world of Cloud Atlas. It's a decision I don't regret.
The A/V quality of the HD file is fantastic. The narrative worked quite well, which is a good sign since I knew nothing about the original narrative going in. I will echo other reviews that mention some of the transitions between narratives being a bit rough...rough isn't necessarily the best word, as there weren't technical issues, but they did stand out a bit.
Enjoyment - 10/10. I really had fun watching this, and I'm looking forward to watching the theatrical for my second viewing.
Have you seen the theatrical cut of Cloud Atlas? Did you enjoy it? No matter the answers to these questions, this is an edit worth seeking out. I, for one, did see the original and felt kind of "meh" about it. I like a lot of things about it, I dislike some things, but ultimately I feel like it doesn't earn its profundities. The new structure in this edit certainly makes it easier to follow, and spending more time with these characters instead of jumping away just as we get a handle on what's going on gives us more time to consider the meaning of what we're seeing. Unfortunately, it also wreaks havoc with the pacing, meaning you really feel the runtime. Also, in compartmentalizing the stories, it breaks up what was an unclassifiable meditation on life and humanity into a series of vignettes with wildly disparate tones. You'll be watching a romantic tragedy for a few minutes, then a comedy, then a sci-fi actioner, and so on. I like all of those things, but if you're not digging a particular story or style, you're going to be stuck watching it for a bit anyway, twice.
Aside from all of this, though, Cloud Atlas: Everything is Connected is a fascinating exercise in editing! When you consider that the film started life with a mosaic structure and a (gorgeous) ever-present soundtrack tying everything together, watching these bits and pieces reorganized into larger chunks that work on their own while still retaining much of the (gorgeous, truly) soundtrack is astounding. There are a (very) few moments where you can sense the edits or hear a bit of dialed-down soundtrack in the background, but they are few and far between and don't even come close to ruining the experience. This is an impressive edit, make no mistake.
I still don't think the movie is very successful in what it set out to do, but I believe it's still worth watching. Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski's shot the hell out of this movie, the production design is terrific, the cast all really went for it (Tom Hanks especially is a blast), the makeup while frequently distracting is still really interesting, and did I mention the score? So even if it's all a bunch of hooey, it's nonsense made by pros. Oh, and the HD MP4 looked great, no complaints.
This is a fantastic edit. At no point would somebody who has not seen the original realize that this is an edit. Others have commented that they did not like the fade to black between stories but I did not mind it at all. They are not jolting or distracting to me at all. There were no awkward audio transitions either and it all works extremely well.
A/V is excellent.
I highly recommend this edit and really don't have any complaints to mention.
Do you recommend this edit?
Thanks skyled.... appreciate you taking 3 hours out of your day to watch this and then to write a review! :)