Thursday, 11 April 2013

Cloud Atlas Movie vs Novel

The challenge in this, is to read the novel before the movie airs.
That is, a 509 pages thick book, in between being a mom, a driver, a maid and an employee.
Stressful much?  Not at all.  In fact, I enjoy the book more than the movie to be honest.  I came out of the theatre feeling that I've been robbed of experiencing the wholeness of the novel.  Am pretty sure it was because of the saturated censorship here that caused my incomplete experience of the whole movie.  Although there is much enjoyment in watching the main characters came alive and the amazing music that it has, I just felt that I need to see the movie in its complete form without censorship at all to enjoy it fully.
Citing from Wiki: "The movie was released in cinemas in China on January 31, 2013 with 39 minutes of cuts, including removal of nudity, a sexual scene, and numerous conversations.".

My feeling is that Tykwer and Wachowskis, the film maker, would've been able to do a much better rendition in making it as a trilogy, like their (Wachowskis') Matrix Trilogy.  However, the downside of making something as a trilogy is the need of surety that the first one will sell to make people want to see the second, and then it has to sustain its steam to make the public aware of the third and therefore buying the complete trilogy DVDs, etc.
Since many of the ideas in this novel is in itself very novel, i.e. a clone, who has no soul, starting a revolution,- it might flop in the first 20 minutes, let alone getting sequels' fund or interest in merchandise.  Unlike other trilogies, which are purely categorised as science fiction with simple theme of good vs evil, journey to the middle earth, etc.

Honestly, this novel and movie are not for the masses.  It challenges everyone's beliefs and forces you to question whether we really are all connected somehow.
When I went to see the movie, a family actually walked out after the gay kissing scene.  I wonder how that got the tick from the censorship department.  Ha ha.

The novel has 6 different stories, broken into halves except the one in the middle, with the comet birthmark and the mentioning of the other chapters as a binder to make a book as one.

The movie is a story with these characters that have the same comet birthmark on different parts of their body, living in different eras, somehow learning what they need to learn, differently throughout their various times.
The scenes are shot jumping from one era to another.  Seriously, if the directors are trying to convey to the public the idea that time is not linear, then they've succeeded.  I did not feel confined to a specific era at all but actually connecting with the different incarnation of the person with the comet birthmark.

It was quite fun to point out the similarities and differences between the various scenes of the movies and the parts of the book.  The ones that stood out to me were:
- The comet birthmark:
In the book, Robert Frobisher's on shoulder blade, but movie, at his back, shown just before he climbed out Rufus Sixsmith's window.
- Relationships:
Movie does not explore Jocasta's affair with Frobisher.  Or perhaps it was censored?  I don't know.
- Different executions:
Movie does not explore Sonmi's study time at University and many characters were cut out.  Totally left out the scene where a doll is thrown off the bridge.
In the book, Catkin was cured by a pill from Meronym but in the movie, it was a quick jab from Meronym's tool by Zachry.
Cavendish never had a stroke in the movie.
Mr.Meeks was picked up in the movie, but he's already inside the car in the novel.

The movie need a lot of dramatic scenes to capture the audience's attention, graphic portrayal of  Finch being thrown off the balcony, the Kona's brutality, etc.  The book captured my attention by the different ways of how each chapters are written, as soon as I go into another chapter, I felt transported into that era and the style of writing changes to suit.  Ingenious!

In conclusion, I must get the movie's complete version, unabridged and uncensored.  I'm glad I read the book first before seeing the movie, although I felt cheated intelligently, but the soundtrack and the special effects for the make up (how they turn Zhou Xun into Rose, Doona Bae into Tilda, Halle Berry into Jocasta, etc) patched up all the disappointment.

Disclaimer: I don't own the picture of "Cloud Atlas" above.


  1. Yes agree with you. reading the book stimulates the brain and re-connects it in a way to move forward by kindling your imagination. The movie on the other hand stimulates the five senses, which still is beautiful, but not deep enough.
    Very good write-up...regrettably I have seen the movie (full version) but haven't read the book.

    1. Had to stop myself from writing too much actually. This movie+book is a really good material for film study group or book club. So many things to talk about.

  2. I loved this comparaison. Loved the movie (I've seen it twice)and loving the book even more (I'm reading Sonmi's part now). It's funny because without watching the movie I don't think I'd had continued with the book (since Adam Edwig's story was very difficult for me to understand). But I'm glad I did it the way I did. The movie jsut increased my desire to read the book. In the movie Jocasta's relationship with Robert was shown, but not in as many details as the book of course but I guess it had sexual scences so it was cut off. I was really sorry to read that. Especially considering that the love scene between Sonmi and Hae-Joo combined with the beautiful music was my favorite scene of all the movie. And how can they cut dialogues? It would be impossible to understand if someone hasn't read the books first. We have no choice. We have to change this world we live in. We cannot continue this was anymore!!

    1. AHA! So Jocasta & Robert's relationship was actually in the movie! It was censored here! Yes, the voice over actually was blatantly cut off in the middle and just continued off somewhere else, it was horrendous really.