David Mitchell is one of my absolute favorite writers, and Cloud Atlas is among my favorite novels. It was my top pick for 2004, and it made my Top 10 Best of the Decade list a few years back. I've previously blogged about my unusual first encounter with Mr. Mitchell while he was touring for Cloud Atlas. Good times!
Anyway, considering my love of the novel, you can imagine that I've been looking forward to the film with equal measures of anticipation and trepidation. You always want the film to do the source material justice, but it's rare that it actually happens. And especially when you're looking at as complex a novel as Cloud Atlas. It was said by many to be unfilmable, and if asked, I would have agreed.
And I would have been so very wrong. What Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer have achieved is nothing short of astounding. I'll cut to the chase and tell you that I LOVED this film. It will surely be my favorite of the year.
What these three writer/directors--apparently with limited input from Mr. Mitchell--did with this screenplay is extraordinary. It is brilliant. Now, it's been eight years since I read the novel, so my memory of the details is not so fresh, but by my reckoning, the screenplay was remarkably true to Mitchell. I recognized dialogue taken verbatim from the novel. Yes, there were elisions, but they were minor. The composer's daughter was removed entirely. She's a character that stands out in my mind due to a memorable later cameo in Mitchell's Black Swan Green, but you know what? She was superfluous. The film didn't need her. I'm sure there were other minor changes, but nothing at all that made me cry foul. No, as I watched the film, memories of the novel came flooding back in the most wonderful way. These filmmakers did a magnificent job of realizing the world(s) that David Mitchell had created.
Oh, and look for author Mitchell in a cameo as a "Union Spy." I didn't catch him, but I'll be on the lookout next time. Because I plan to see this film many, many times. There's just too much to take in. I'd venture I'll catch something new every time I see this film in years to come. Even at the lengthy running time of 2:42, I was ready to walk right back in the theater and start over from the beginning. The film held me transfixed, and I can't wait to see it again. Not to mention, I've already got a wish list in my mind of DVD extras!