On the flight back from the UK, I had the chance to watch the movie Cloud Atlas. It really was spectacular, in many different ways. The story, told in different time periods which turn out to be interconnected, is enthralling, and the imagery of the two very different periods in the future is stunning.
God is brought into things very early, by the intriguing question: If God made the world, then how do we know what we can change and what is inviolable?
The movie’s answer seems to be that it is not forces for good that would persuade us that an unjust social system is sacrosanct. To change things, to not let the powerful get away with trampling on the powerless, we need to have the courage to act in ways that could cost us dearly.
And so the idea, voiced by one of the characters, that “The weak are meat the strong do eat” is challenged and overturned. We may be merely a drop in the ocean, “But what is an ocean but a multitude of drops?”
A pivotal point in human history – although not one that leads to the elimination of evil or some sort of final victory for good – is the life of Sonmi451, whose “revelation” is considered sacred, and who herself comes to be viewed as a god by some simple people, who may in fact be the descendants of replicants like her. Her martyrdom seems like it could be futile at one point. But because we also have a story set in the future, we learn that it ultimately is not.
Among her words are this statement: “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime; and every kindness we birth our future.”
Have you seen Cloud Atlas? If so, what did you think of it?