This past Saturday I had the opportunity to see the new film by the Wachowski Brothers a.k.a. Wachowski Starship, Cloud Atlas. While I don't want to hash out fully here why I enjoyed the film, I do want to give some of my thoughts. So here's what I liked, loved, and also what I didn't enjoy and didn't love about the film.
Artistically, the film is a great film. Beginning and end shots are linked together very well, filled in the middle by 6 intertwining storylines. Here's a list of the periods of time:
1. Mid 19th century - a man aboard a ship in the Pacific Islands, harboring a stowaway
2. 1936 - a homosexual composer trying to write a masterpiece with the help of a composer who hasn't written a good work in years.
3. 1970s - an audacious reporter gets the story of her career fall into her lap that could topple an oil industry.
4. 2012 - a publicist, his rise to prominence, his fall, and his plot to escape an assisted living facility
5. 2312, or somewhere around there - a genetically engineered waitress escapes her confined life and discovers the truth behind her world.
6. 106, "After the Fall", actually some years after 2312, a tribal group hosts a stranger trying to discover truth buried in the past that will benefit mankind. Meanwhile, the main character of this time period is literally haunted by an "evil conscious".
It should be mentioned at this point that there is a very small core cast playing several different parts, in all 6 timelines. The makeup work and the incredible acting ability are both on full display in this film. This adds to the beauty and intricacy of this film.
The storylines are all very different in plot, but in theme, they are all similar. On the surface, you can definitely see the links between each storyline, but dig deeper and there is a whole network teeming with details to analyze. To me, a movie that can spark discussion is a movie worth seeing and Cloud Atlas is no exception. Themes of freedom, good and evil, love, loss, defying the established order, and relationships are some of the few elements that this film explores.
So in terms of structure, acting, plot, and art, this film earns high marks in my book.
But here's my problem:
It can clearly be seen by anyone who knows anything about eastern religion, that this movie illustrates re-incarnation. There are conversations about past lives and how "everything is connnected".
Furthermore, the film has a flippant view of sexuality, especially in the 1930s segment. Its message: have sex with whoever you want. It doesn't matter if you're married or not. It doesn't matter if you're committing adultery. It doesn't matter if you're having sex with someone of the same gender.
There was also language and violence in the film, but those were of less significance to me then the issues previously mentioned.
While I did enjoy the film overall, I can't ignore it's problems, and it's problems are enough for me to steer certain Christians away from it. I believe it's benefits outweigh it's problems, but there are some who this film could affect in a negatively spiritual way.
I haven't come down on a final rating of this film, it has it's good and it's bad. On one hand, I see it as a great film artistically, but morally and spiritually, it gets an F. I don't expect every film to adhere to my worldview, but I also don't want anyone buying into reincarnation, past lives, and sexual immorality as acceptable because of a film.