Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles from the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.
The Incomparable: Cloud Atlas
As the audience returns to The matrix thanks to the latest release from cinematic visionary Lana Wachowski, now seems like the right time to once again highlight her most unusual, ambitious and breathtaking work: the 2012 opus cloud atlasco-directed Lana’s sister, Lilly, as well as their frequent collaborator Tom Tykwer (director of Run Lola Run). It’s a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience (and remember, we saw a parcel).
The shape of cloud atlas makes synthesis difficult. In the 1840s, an American doctor (Jim Sturgess) strikes up a relationship with a slave (David Gyasi) and becomes an ardent abolitionist. In the 1930s, a gay composer (Ben Whishaw) writes a quintet as an ode to his boyfriend (James D’Arcy), only to have it stolen by another composer. In the 1970s, the composer’s lover helps an investigative journalist (Halle Berry) expose ecoterrorism. In the present, an aging author (Jim Broadbent) involuntarily committed to a nursing home plots his escape. In the distant future, an anti-totalitarian rebel (Sturgess, again) kidnaps a cloned fast food worker (Doona Bae). In the same Continued far future, a tribesman (Tom Hanks) guides a scientist (Berry, again) to an abandoned communications station in hopes of escaping a dying Earth.
Understand the plot (or plots) of cloud atlas only scratches the surface of this bewildering and spellbinding cinematic experience. Essentially, the film tries to visualize how lives interconnect over time and how love brings us back to each other from one lifetime to the next. To love is to find true immortality: something that illness, revolution, cataclysms and old age can never overcome. cloud atlas argues that our spirit – and indeed, our love – transcends time, race, gender and sexuality. The Wachowskis manifest this rather abstract concept by using their cast in multiple roles: Halle Berry plays a Jewish woman. Hugo Weaving plays a woman. Korean actress Doona Bae plays a white woman. We are the points of light throughout space and time, no matter how we look from different angles. Our love connects these dots in the tapestry of time.
cloud atlas makes the sweeping statement that love is love, and moreover, love will save us all in the end. It’s a one-of-a-kind film, exploring the fluidity of sexuality and gender, and a thrilling cinematic experience. The matrix may have put the Wachowskis on the map. cloud atlas proves their true brilliance.
Streaming on Netflix, HBO Max, AmazonYouTube and VUDU.
Note: This article contains parts of previous posts on Queerty.