Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cloud Atlas (2012)

I watched this movie just after it came out in theaters, I wanted to talk about it back then but I waited, since once was not enough for me to get all of it. For one thing their future speak in the most far out future story was difficult to understand and I only got like half of it without subtitles. Now that I have watched it a second time with subtitles, many of the things made more sense.

Just to clarify, I am a very empirical person. I don't belong to any established religious group, I don't believe in the existence of the God or Gods. I don't think there is somewhere you go after you die, I don't think there is reincarnation, I don't think there is a cosmic reason to everything or anything, and I don't think somebody will count your karma and give you a better luck for it. I think what happens when you die is that your brain stops working, your mind ceases to exist and your body rot, or gets incinerated. There is no soul, no spirit, no ghosts or any other supernatural beings. Life originated on Earth from organic compounds by chance, and then evolved into various life forms through evolution by natural selection. There is no Alien intervention, no Alien abduction or any of those things.

Still, I feel a strong connection with this film. I can't really explain it, it's like I know it's not true, but it does not change the fact that these are beautiful stories. Just like how many of the best stories ever told never happened, they're fiction, and that's what they are.

I think it is exactly the kind of movie I like with the themes of love, righteousness and ideals. Some of the stories don't make a whole lot of sense. For example in the last story I still don't understand why can't the high-tech black people just fly to the communication station. I mean they drive around in this hydrofoil ship with fusion reactors but they don't have a helicopter on it? And in the Neo Seoul story how is it efficient to feed these cloned people back to themselves because this process of converting meat into your own body is incredibly inefficient. But in the case of this movie, I would argue that these problems don't matter because they're not the point, the point is that these things happened, and the characters responded in the way they did.

I love this, I hate how people always try to explain things away with "opinions" and "perspective"

Starting from the first story in the chronological order, the story is not that complicated. This guy here went on a trip to sign some contract that involves slave trading. And then he saves and gets saved by a black guy, so he returns only to burn the contract he got from the trip. The strongest theme in this story is about discrimination.
She looks like crap but she makes an excellent point, unfair treatment for women is still rampant today.
The issue is very much alive today and I don't think I'll be talking about them at length here. Even as a non-white my self, I have seen other people of my color discriminate against other skin colors and such. You can read about why it is wrong and immoral and stuff from books or the internet, but at the end of the day, who cares even if it has been scientifically proven that for example, black people are less intelligent? Even if that is the case, we know there won't be too much of a difference, maybe let's say by 10 IQ points on average, it is still significantly outweighed by individual differences and other circumstances. Besides, what do you gain from discrimination even if it is true? Nothing.

Except the act itself is more than enough.

And then we have the second story taking place in 1939. It is about this young talented composer who works for this old famous composer and coming up with the Cloud Atlas Sextet. The old guy wants to claim it for his own so the young guy shoots him and then shoots himself so he could be known to be the true author of his work.
At first I thought that the young guy really did write it by himself. And then I realized that it actually is a collaboration between the two guys. They almost had an agreement on that but then the old guy somehow didn't want to be sexually involved so he sort of turned to the devil and wants to take it for himself. The young guy in anger of this also lied to himself and thought that it was entirely his work.

I think this one is a story about people who did not stay true to their own feelings.

Green screens....
The third story is about this female reporter who uncovers a conspiracy plot by the oil industry despite the life threatening danger she had to go through, as well as the people who have died to help her reveal it.
This one I think is about doing the right thing, no matter the cost, when the reporter says in this line, "You must do, whatever you can't not do."

 The next story which takes place to modern day London, I don't even have a screenshot for. You know, who cares about old people.... That's the exact mentality we are talking about here. Clearly I'm not learning from it.
That's something I wanted to talk about, sometimes you just can't help it. People have done studies that show somehow we automatically think black people are criminals and stuff and then claims it to be discrimination. I don't think so, because there are certain characteristics recognized by everyone to be a sign of something. Not just in America, even in Asian films you often see bad people as depicted in darker colors and good people in lighter colors.
It's the same thing for old people, do I think we should treat them nicely? absolutely, and I do my best to accomplish that goal. But when it comes to story telling, I'm just not very interested in old people because it doesn't connect with me very well.

The next story is probably my favorite. Neo Seoul in the future employs these clone people as workers in cafes and I would assume, everywhere else. These clone people are basically slaves they have absolutely no freedom, just work, eat and sleep.

One of these workers is freed by an underground resistance force, this guy to be exact.
"I'm Asian, trust me!"
He said that he's some kind of a commander of the science department or something, but he's got some very ninja moves for a scientist, I don't know.
Ninja bullet dodge on a super narrow bridge.

Future Korean like to spray random rockets everywhere without aiming

Police force with too much money on their hands

Ultimate hentai factory
The actress was already 32 years old, not exactly. But she is a beautiful character.

So the resistance's goal is to show the clone girl the truth behind the industry, which is how they produce these slave labor, have them work, kill them, and turn them into food and source material to make more of them.
And then they attack a TV station and have the girl go on TV to talk about her revelations, which is the speech you can see in the trailer. But the attack was just a suicide mission, they broadcast and then everyone dies.
I make it sound stupid and cold but it is really a powerful story, trust me.

What happens next is that this clone girl becomes a Jesus Christ type religious figure. And then humanity is like mostly wiped out on Earth, the next story takes place in a small island where they worship this clone girl like Jesus.

 Then there are these high-tech people who for some reason visits them each year because they want to get to a communication station on top of a mountain located on their island. Again, why don't they just take a helicopter or something?

So she did find a guide who would walk her there, which is our protagonist of the story. He's got a inner devil who is personified and tells him to do the wrong thing all the time.

 I always thought these things are funny, how the tribes people don't have technologies but they have inner devils to tell them what to do...
So they send their communication, which looks like laser for some reason. I guess it's just like that to look cool and has no scientific reason to be that way.

Then the movie just skips forward for a couple of decades when the woman and the protagonist guy are both grand parents and they are now on another planet looking back at Earth.

 Yea, I don't think you can see the Earth from another star system, even with the biggest telescopes. And it will definitely not be blue. It would be more red/orange because you'll be seeing the Sun instead.
Anyway, great movie, I hate how I lack the literacy skills to show how strongly I felt about it. I can imagine how it has a mixed review because some people don't really like it that much. I think it boils down to how some people like to see stories that reveal nasty and realistic sides of humanity. And there are stories that are much more romantic (the classical sense) and idealistic about the positive sides. I'm for the latter and I don't like the prior type.

1 comment:

  1. I like your review. I just want to add my observations. The running theme is that people devour one another. It is literal in some of the stories, symbolic in others. The movie opens with the murderous doctor showing to the lawyer the teeth spat out by ancient cannibals. The doctor joins them at the closing moments of his tale "The weak are meat, the strong do eat." He is defeated by the intervention of the slave saved by the lawyer.
    In the next, a musician is hooked by the tale of the lawyer but never sees the ending. He sees no way out of his own situation, that of being consumed by his brilliant but evil mentor. (he is also unknowingly wearing the lawyer's vest?) His salvation is in his lover but he fails to grasp it, and is lost, but leaves a transcendent musical opus a sextet, six movements of the same piece as in these six stories.
    The tale of reporter (bound to the previous story by the now aged lover and the opus) is that of businessmen consuming their fellows for power and money, willing to foment a murderous meltdown. The reporter is saved, again, by a good person risking himself to rescue her.
    The tale of the publicist imprisoned by his brother at one point screams "Soylent Green is people!", and the closing moments of that tale has a tooth flying thru the air, as the publicist and his companions, all ill used by those who consumed lives for profit, is saved by the intervention of good people, and his personal happiness saved by finding the love he rejected from cowardice so long ago.
    The tale of Sonmi451 is in a world built by those of the same spirit as the tale of the reporter, where business is everything, where some people are bred to be fed to each other. Sonmi is rescued by those who have recognized the transcendent spirit of humanity to reach out to each other and are seeking to preach that spirit, and have found that it is she, Sonmi451. While she is terminated, her legacy remains to inspire humanity to survive and escape.
    The final tale of the last Hawaiians brings it back to the slaughter and feasting on people on a world almost devoid of people. Haunted by the devil of his guilt at being unable to save his friends from being eaten (and hears the cannibal say “the weak are meat, the strong do eat.), a goat herder is living tribally with people who worship a vague sense of Sonmi451, and he agrees to guide a woman from the Prescients, a people who hold the knowledge of the Old Ones. (he wears, as a decoration, a button from the lawyer’s/musician’s vest ) She needs to be taken to the ruins (the Keck Observatory? to send a plea to the outworld colonies) so he leads her through the lands of the Kona, the cannibals. Fighting his private Devil, he recognizes her humanity, recognizes his own humanity. “See you fall I catch you.” she says. He catches her when she falls and promises her he will again. Returning to find his village and family slaughtered he grabs his niece and runs only to be trapped in the forest. The Prescient rises with a weapon and together they fight and save each other from being eaten. And the survivors, Prescients and tribesman, are taken to outworld colony. In the end the stories are that humans of all times are beset by forces that seek dismember and devour them, and that we can only survive by reaching to each other , to help each other in the struggle to live, and to give that life a reason for joy: that we are bound to each other in this way and that those who will not, will perish.