Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cloud Atlas [2012]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O)  Roger Ebert (4 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB review
Roger Ebert's review

Cloud Atlas, screenplay written and directed by Todd Tykwer, Andy and Lana Wachowski and based on David Mitchell's novel by the same name premiered recently at the 48th Chicago International Film Festival (Oct 13-25, 2012).   Like The Matrix [1999-2003] films for which the Chicago area residing the brother and sister team of Andy and Lana Wachowski is best known for, this truly Sweeping [TM] film starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Xun Zhou, David Gyasi, Jim Broadbent, Suzanne Sarandon, Hugh Grant and others, playing various characters in various epochs of time extending from "120 years after the Fall" to 2144 (or 130 years after our own), the film is more or less obviously intended to have religious overtones.  And I do want to make it clear here that as a work of speculative fiction, intended for a global audience (as again in the case of The Matrix [1999-2003] movies), I _don't_ find the effort here to be out-of-hand-wrong.  Indeed, as I've written before on this blog (in my reviews of the Tree of Life [2011], Meloncholia [2011] the Through the Wormhole [2011+] television series and Prometheus [2012]) I generally tend to welcome speculative efforts such as this (EVEN IF I'd disagree, and even for dogmatic reasons, with parts of them). 

The central conflict that ties all the vignettes together in Cloud Atlas is that of Universal Brother/Sisterhood vs. "The Natural Order of things" (basically Darwinism) where as the film says: "the weak are meat and the strong get to eat."  Given that I belong to a Church (the Catholic Church) that sees itself as having a Universal mission and understands all people to be fundamentally brothers and sisters to each other I can not but find this film to be overwhelmingly salutary. 

Yes, we can get bogged down in relative details (Does the film promote a belief in reincarnation?  Should that (in a film) really matter (_honestly_)?  Given that the film was funded by a production company coming out of SINGAPORE should Americans/Westerners really expect otherwise?  Can CATHOLICS AT LEAST come to see more or less obvious similarities between the Eastern concept of "karma" (continuous "reincarnation" until a soul finally gets it right...) and the purgation process that we would argue would take place in Purgatory (where we hope to all be until "we finally get it right...") and "let the argument go" (at least for a moment).  Hindus/Buddhists presumably would be just as proud their own beliefs as we Catholics would be of ours.  Can we at least choose to look for similarities rather than focus on differences?  (How can any serious inter-religious dialogue hope to succeed if one's starting position towards "the other side" is "you're out of hand _wrong_?")

Anyway, as a work of speculative fiction, WHAT A FILM!  Great job folks!  All of you!

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1 comment:

  1. I had no intention of seeing this film, but I was at a brunch after Mass on Sunday (I'm a high-Church Episcopalian), and a fellow parishioner recommended it. Because of my respect for him and because the mimosas were so good, I got home and ordered the film on PPV. I loved it. I would mention that I have not had a good night's sleep since I saw this beautiful masterpiece. It's hard to explain, but the disturbing elements in this piece have edified me. I'm past the point of looking for meaning in every film, but this was extraordinary on every level-- visual, sound, over-the-top acting that I hardly noticed as acting-- it was truly beautiful. Did I understand it? Could I connect the diverse segments occurring over hundreds of years? No, I could not. I was surprised that we didn't see an early-man or pre-hominid in a Terrence Malick Tree of Life style. Good for these directors for not being copycats. Indeed, I've never seen anything like this joyful art work. Father, thank you for allowing me to put down a few of my thoughts.