The Cloud Atlas of the Human Heart


Jan is a great fan of David Mitchell and really hoped to see the film adaptation of his Cloud Atlas from before it came out. The film was written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer.

While we seem just too rarely to get out to movies, I have to admit I appreciate doing so when we do. Usually. This definitely fit into the glad we went category. It has been met with mixed reviews, although I understand when it was released at the Toronto Film Festival, it received a ten minute standing ovation from the audience. I join in that ovation.

The official plot synopsis says the film is “An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.”

This is done with six interlocking stories ranging from the nineteenth century to some unknown future time a hundred plus years after some “Fall,” giving us three hours well worth spending.

I liked it enough that I really wanted it to be a “Buddhist” movie. But, it isn’t. It might, however, be a “Unitarian Universalist” movie. That is a movie marked through and through with hope and a call to compassion and a profound insight into our interrelatedness. And I’m content with that…

There are two contending views, the one articulated early in the film. “The weak are meat, the strong do eat.” And the film depicts plenty of this philosophy including a literalist interpretation of that motto. It is something that persists throughout the various worlds, or moments of the world depicted in the film.

Against this are those wisdom teachings of interconnectedness. “From womb to tomb we are bound to others past and present, and by each crime and every kindness we give birth to our future.” And constantly arising heroic acts in the face of terrible things, small and large.

This spirit of hope and courage in the face of contradiction, the weak are meat view, sort of prevails, or, at least it persists.

And for me that seems what we can hope for.

And in some sense it feels enough…

Certainly that’s what we actually see in life.

And this film shows what that can look like in all its kaleidyscopic confusion, sad and beautiful…

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