Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Biittner's Book (and Film) Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

A little late on this one (again!) but I really wanted to write a bit about this book and the recent film adaptation. I actually saw the movie first and enjoyed it enough that I wanted to read the book so put it forward as one of my book club selections.

 I was curious with how the book dealt with the multiple story-lines versus how they were interwoven in the film. The book creates a wonderful narrative arc (or rainbow as it were). It starts with the "oldest" story-line and by midpoint has reached the one that takes place, presumably, in the most distant future, then works its way back through the various stories to connect/tie them all together. Overall Mitchell is very successful in crafting a very wonderful, descriptive, and complex lesson in redemption while still managing to keep everything very clear. This was one of the major criticisms of the film: that it was confusing. I think part of this is that in the book you are provided with the characters names, which clearly lets you know who you are dealing with, while in the film the names of the various characters are often "lost". I failed to catch many of them but for me this was not an issue. I actually found the threads that link all the stories together easier, in some ways, to detect in the film because of how each actor played their various incarnations throughout all the story-lines. I found it really compelling and, honestly, just plain fun to figure out who played each character in each story. The make up to transform the actors was really cool and you must watch the credits to really appreciate how many characters each actor played.

What this all means is that I think the film and the book go really well together. I am actually glad I saw the film and read the book. They each made me appreciate the other, which I think is a first! I am curious if I would feel the same way had I read the book first then saw the film. In any case, I highly recommend the book and encourage those who enjoy it to check out the film too. 

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