Cloud Atlas (2012) Poster



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The whole film was shot with two parallel filming units, one under the helm of Tom Tykwer and the other under the direction of Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, sharing no crew members beside the cast and the directors themselves.
With a budget of over $100,000,000, Cloud Atlas is one of the most expensive german films to date.
Because of the nature of casting on the film, the directors told the actors to think of their roles as a "genetic strain" rather than a series of individual parts, with actions in one story-line affecting another.
The film went through a series of troubles to land a financial backer, including studio Warner Brothers to pull out of financing the project as they didn't like the numbers. The directors had both waived their fees and started putting in their own money to keep the project afloat. Lana Wachowski credited Tom Hanks with helping get the film off the ground to the point where he inspired much of the cast and crew by being the first to fly to Berlin to begin shooting the film. According to Wachowski, Hanks was very enthusiastic about the project.
Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski directed the 1849, 2144, and 2321 segments of the film. Tom Tykwer directed the 1936, 1973, and 2012 segments.
One of the few films in history that has three directors working together as an original team who equally share directing credit.
In 2005, while on the London set of V for Vendetta (2005), Natalie Portman gave a copy of the original novel to Lana Wachowski, who became deeply interested in it. A year later, both Wachowski siblings wrote a first draft of the screenplay. Tom Tykwer, a friend of the Wachowskis, was invited to co-author several subsequent drafts with them in the following two years, constantly keeping in mind observations by the book's author himself, David Mitchell, while looking for international investors. In all those years, Portman was promised the role of Sonmi-451, but had to turn down the role at the last minute after becoming pregnant in 2010. However, she is given a special thanks in the closing credits.
The cover of the book "The Revelation of Sonmi 451" is made from interwoven Fabricant collars. Its pages with their clothes and words stitched from strands of their own hair.
When Sonmi-451 and the other Fabricants are shown, just before bedtime, drinking their daily rejuvenation drink, the large Korean letters on the drink boxes say, "Be New" in English.
While on the set of this movie, Tom Hanks started calling Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski, "Mom and Dad," because they worked so well together and as leaders of the cast and crew.
Number 451 (Luisa Rey's apartment and Sonmi-451) comes from a classic science fiction novel by Ray Bradbury, "Fahrenheit 451". It denotes a temperature needed to burn books.
David Mitchell, author of the source novel, has a cameo in the Neo-Seoul sequence, playing a freedom fighter.
Doona Bae's emotional presence was mostly attributed to being very alone when she arrived to Germany and only kept in touch with the cast and crew.
Vyvyan Ayrs's mansion in the 1936 plot-line shows up again as Aurora House where Timothy Cavendish becomes imprisoned in the 2012 plot-line. Jim Broadbent plays Vyvyan in 1936 and also Timothy Cavendish in 2012.
Luisa Rey's parents Lester and Judith Rey appear to be a tip of the hat to sci-fi publishing greats Lester del Rey and Judy-Lynn del Rey.
The character played by Amanda Walker is nursing-home resident "Veronica Costello," based on the popular song "Veronica" sung by Elvis Costello and written by Elvis Costello and Sir Paul McCartney, that song tells the story of a similar Veronica.
The picture of Halle Berry's character's father originally came from the Korean War National Museum.
Cavendish is the name of the town in Vermont (USA) that Alexander Solzhenitsyn lived in while in exile.
Ian McKellen and James McAvoy were offered roles.
The director's longest runtime for any of their former films, running at almost 3 hours.
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The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Susan Sarandon.
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The first post-Bound (1996) film by Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski not to involve a video game tie-in.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The newly submitted manuscript that Timothy Cavendish is reviewing while riding the train is a Luisa Rey Mystery by Javier Gomez, the young boy that hangs around Rey's apartment and keeps telling her that her investigative assignments would make good mystery stories.
The jewel that Zachry (Tom Hanks) inspects at the beginning of the Big Island plot-line is actually a button from Adam Ewing's coat that was stolen by Dr. Henry Goose (Tom Hanks again). In the climactic struggle with the Kona tribe, in which Zachary is being strangled, the button breaking away from his necklace actually saves his life.
Movie contains a spoiler for Soylent Green (1973): Timothy Cavendish says "soylent green is people" which is a reference to Sonmi 451's story in which old clones are recycled as food to feed new clones, and also to a science fiction film he had seen in the past where old people are 'recycled' into a new staple in the diet called the soylent green.
All the characters played by Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving in the movie are villains.
All cast members have several roles in the final film, spanning different times, races and even sexes. This was achieved through prosthetics, wardrobe and tight production times to switch actors between units. For instance, Halle Berry described the experience of filming as a Jewish woman in the 1930s under the direction of Tom Tykwer one day, then switching to an old tribal woman under the helm of Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, and then again as a environmentalist in the 1970s, all in the same week.
Despite Sixsmith and Frobisher's close relationship in the film, they are never actually shown speaking to one another.
James D'Arcy is the only actor to play the same character (Rufus Sixsmith) in two different segments.
Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent) comes into Robert Frobisher's room saying he's heard music in his dream from a violin. The music is, of course, the Cloud Atlas Sextet. In Neo Seoul, an old man (also Broadbent) is shown playing the Sextet on an ErHu (or Chinese Violin).
The six characters who have a comet-shaped birthmark (and who are the main character) in each history are these: Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess), Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw), Luisa Rey (Halle Berry), Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent), Sonmi 451 (Doona Bae), and Zachry (Tom Hanks).
During the prison escape in Neo-Seoul, at the point when the plumbing truck is forced by the police to land, there is a sign visible on a building reading (in English) "Swannekke Atomic Power, Inc.", an apparent connection to the company running the nuclear power plant in 1973.
The name George appears at several parts of the movie:
  • In 1849, Kupaka talks about the "Georgia Way";

  • In 1936, Vyvyan Ayrs comments about St. George statue;

  • In 2012, Cavendish brothers related with Georgette;

  • In 2144, one of the "recycling" buildings has "GEO R93" on its roof

  • In 2321, Zachry is haunted by Old Georgie.

While Timothy Cavendish's line "Soylent Green is people!" while trying to leave Aurora House is a fun reference to the film Soylent Green (1973), it is also a clever foreshadowing to revelation in the Neo-Seoul storyline that the cadavers of the clone waitresses of Papa Song are recycled into food.
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