A half year ago I saw the trailer of the then announced movie “Cloud Atlas”. The trailer got me interested. So I browsed around the web a bit and found out that it is based on a novel said to be spectacular and impossible to make a movie from.
So I bought “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell in Amazon’s Kindle Store and since I prefer to read the book before watching movies based on it, I started reading.
The book is great. It consists of six stories ranging from the 18th century to some more or less distant future. Each of the stories is written in its own style and uses a language matching the time.
The first story — the one from the 18th century — is quite difficult to read — It is written in a rather archaic English — and for me it was also quite boring. But the rest is all a very good read. The stories are told in two parts. You read the first parts from past to future and then the second parts come in reversed order from future to past.
All stories are somehow connected. There are people reading the older stories or watching them as a movie, but there are more than those obvious connections.
Now I also watched the movie. It is impossible even for a movie of nearly three hours to show each scene described in the book, but it captures the essence of the book.
One interesting aspect of the movie is that it tells all stories simultaneously. Sometimes you see 5 minutes of each story and sometimes the movie runs in a mere amount seconds through all six stories. At first it is a bit irritating, but in the end it is a good technique to bind all stories together and to remind the audience what the current situation is in each story.
The book carries some subtle notion of reincarnation and the movie reinforces that notion in a kind only a movie can, but you’ll have to see for yourselves.
One more tidbit maybe: In one of the stories taking place in the future a sort of fast food restaurant is described that uses golden arches in it’s logo. My brain made a connection to a currently existing chain of fast food restaurants. It’s hard to make that connection when watching the movie. Either the book isn’t as explicit in that case as I imagined or the movie makers decided to not be as obvious as the book.
So definitely first read the book and then watch the movie.