You know what’s the worst (besides global warming, poverty, rape jokes, and Mitt Romney)? When Hollywood ruins a book you love, pulverizing whatever is subtle and delicate about it into a pulpy, preachy mess.
I loved Cloud Atlas. It wasn’t a perfect book, a desert-island book, or a book that I will pass on to my children, but it was a book that I loved for the few weeks I spent burrowing up in its six nested stories. It was complicated, and it asked me, the reader, to do some serious work. I’m a fan of a good YA novel every now and then, something to blow through to distract myself from mundane shit like the future of our country, but I like a book that doesn’t just deliver the goods with a 7th-grade vocabulary.
Cloud Atlas is an adult book about, not to be dramatic or anything, the very essence of humanity. Where the book gives you patterns and correlating stories and lets you come to your own conclusions about that essence of humanity, the movie voices-over the most simplistic, dumbed-down platitudes. God forbid you leave theater not knowing that, dramatic pause, we’re all connected.
Forget big picture, the Wachowskis missed the mark logistically, too. The novel unfolds with the six stories in a simple A,B,C,D,E,F,F,E,D,C,B,A pattern, beginning and ending with the same characters. The movie, on the other hand, ricochets every nine seconds. Before you’ve had a chance to reacclimate, they’ve moved on. Similarly, in an effort to maintain continuity they cast the same actors over and over again for each segment. Imagine Halle Berry in white face and green contact lenses as a 1930s Jew, or Jim Sturgess with artificially created slanted eyes to make him look Korean. Yeah, not good.
Oh, and did I mention it’s over three hours? Yeah, you can read half the book in that amount of time! Do it, I promise, you’ll be better off.
Related Post: Why I like YA books.
Related Post: Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman.