So it’s been nearly a week now since it was revealed that the new film from the Wachowski’s and Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas, would premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Since then we’ve been able to clasp our eyes on a dozen or so stills as well as the incredibly long five minute and 42 second trailer. If you’re yet to check it out, you can do below:
Movie marketing gone mad? Well… no. Not really. Amazingly, even with a trailer of that length, we still know next to nothing about the film. Obviously, anyone who has read the book will be able to make connections, but for now – I’ve since picked up the novel – the overall story is still relatively ambiguous.
So what did the trailer do to get this writer so excited? The answer is a simple – it made a statement. In that near 6 minute runtime it wowed you with its scale, its beauty, its intrigue and most of all its ambition. There’s been countless articles written about the ‘death of originality’ in Hollywood over the last decade or so, and the era of reboots/remakes and franchise storytelling where we currently find ourselves. I’m not here to preach that Cloud Atlas is the savoir of the Hollywood mainstream and that we should all worship it for its audacity because, of course – like the rest of the world – I’m yet to see it and, well, it could be no good.
But what we can’t argue about is the daring ambition to, however clichéd it may sound; deliver ‘something we have never seen before’. An R rated, nearly three-hour, genre-hopping multi-story set in the past, present and future is a massive undertaking to say the least, and one that many would struggle to comprehend, let alone attempt to create a coherent film out of. That, to me, is something worth acknowledging. The fact that the trio behind the film have the faith in their talent to bring this novel to the screen is a bold move and shows a courage that many directors aren’t willing to shoulder. In my eyes, the writers/directors are taking a huge chance, and with that comes greater risk but hopefully, if they are successful, an even greater reward.
Just watching the compiled-out-of-context footage in the trailer had me close to tears; I wanted to be in that world, to be swept away in its epic journey. And there haven’t been many full length features that have been able to evoke such response out of me in the last few years.
However, if the film does not fulfill the potential of this trailer and performs poorly at the box office, I would still find it encouraging that there are still filmmakers out there – and studios – that are willing to take a risk on single entity material. And also, that there is more than just Christopher Nolan brave enough to challenge the general public with a complex story, and that Warner Bros are there finance these projects. The fact that they have given $100mil+ budgets to Snyder for Watchmen, Nolan for Inception and now the Wachowski’s and Tykwer for Cloud Atlas, all in the last three years, is somehow quite comforting to know as a cinema lover.
I very much hope that when Cloud Atlas hits UK cinemas in early 2013 I will be left in awe or, at the very least, enjoy it. But if not, and the film doesn’t surpass my expectation, I will at least still respect it for having the ambition to do something different.