With six stories spanning nearly three hours, told by an ensemble cast and three directors, the sheer amount of information presented by and discussions one can have about Cloud Atlas is staggering. Co-writers and directors Tom Tykwer, Andy and Lana Wachowski took David Mitchell‘s novel, which nests six stories within each other, and broke it down into one forward-flowing mosaic. Set in several time periods from the 1800s through the 2300s, the film blends genres and tones to show the human soul moving from century to century, and explore how our actions in one life might affect the next.

And that’s just a very superficial interpretation. There’s much, much more to the movie, which is why it’s one of the year’s best.

As one might expect on a production so massive, there are tons of bits of behind the scenes trivia and on-screen secrets. Were there additional stories meant for the film or novel? Were the directors ever on set together? How did characters get cast? Which actress thought she’d be fired? And what exactly happens at the end of the film? We’ve complied 15 things you probably didn’t know, or notice about Cloud Atlas. After the jump, read all about them. Read More »

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Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final part of /Film’s interview with Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, the writers and directors of Cloud Atlas. Read part one herepart two here and part three here. The full interview will be published tomorrow, the day the film opens.

All of the major actors in Cloud Atlas play at least four roles. A few play as many as six. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Doona Bae, Hugh Grant, James D’Arcy and Keith David all have multiple personalities to portray. Some significant, others less so, and they’re not always the same race or sex as the actor in the role.

So in the film, you’ll get to see Halle Berry as an Asian man and a white German woman. Hugo Weaving is a hulking female nurse; Jim Sturgess is a Korean crime fighter; and Ben Whishaw is a loving wife. In doing this, co-writers and directors Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer were able to visually display the movement and evolution of the human soul across eternity and also play against segregated acting conventions Hollywood has employed for years. They believe actors should not be pidgeonholed by their race or sex and, after the jump, the three filmmakers discuss not only that, but how the process was liberating for their actors.

After the jump, read the fourth part of my interview with the team behind Cloud Atlas. Read More »

Editor’s Note: This is the third of a four part series breaking down /Film’s interview with Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, the writers and directors of Cloud Atlas. Look for a new part each day leading up to the film’s release October 26. Read part one here and part two here.

When Cloud Atlas opens this Friday, it’s going to be very divisive. Some, like myself, will be transfixed by the way the film takes you on a journey across time, enlightening the audience to the evolution and connections of the human soul via multiple genres, tones and more. Others might find it confusing, overly long and distracting. Directors Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer are aware of this and, in the third part of my interview with the co-writers and directors of this incredible film, they discuss those difficulties and how they were an obstacle from the very beginning of the process.

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Editor’s Note: This is the second of a four part series breaking down /Film’s interview with Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, the writers and directors of Cloud Atlas. Look for a new part each day leading up to the film’s release October 26. Read part one here.

With six stories, three directors and actors playing multiple parts across totally different stories, there’s a lot going on in Cloud Atlas. One of the film’s pleasures is how art, and a love of art, is always part of the story. Whether it’s one character reading a book, listening to a piece of music, or watching a movie, art is always at the center of Cloud Atlas helping to sew all of its seemingly random threads together. This is a fact that’s not lost on the film’s directors, all art lovers themselves.

In the second part of our interview with the writers and directors of Cloud AtlasAndy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, we discuss this particular reading of the film and how art is truly a way to link us all.

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Editor’s Note: This is the first of a four part series in /Film’s interview with Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, the writers and directors of Cloud Atlas. Look for a new part each day leading up to the film’s release October 26. 

Film fans would be hard-pressed to find two more perfect late nineties movies than The Matrix and Run Lola Run. Both were groundbreaking, visually stunning and instantly memorable. Each officially announced its director(s) as a force to be reckoned with. Those directors, of course, are Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. Since then, each director has made several solid films (Heaven and Perfume for Tykwer, Speed Racer and the Matrix sequels for the Wachowskis) but none have quite lived up to the insurmountable heights of those signature films.

That changes with Cloud Atlas, a sweeping, epic film that challenges the way stories are told all together. Based on a novel by David Mitchell, Tykwer and the Wachowskis took six radically different but related stories and rearraged them to be digested as one fluid story. The film jumps from one timeline to another, with each scene informing and enlightening the previous one, even though they’re set in totally different periods and genres. Actors portray upwards of six roles, each giving the viewer a hint of how these beings relate to each other, and how they affect the others – and human history – in radical and exciting ways.

How is a film of that magnitude possible? Here, in the first part of our interview, the directors talk about the difficulties of shooting a three-hour movie with six separate stories simultaneously in different parts of the world and then putting it all together into one cohesive story. Check back later this week for the rest of the interview.

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As fantastic a film as Cloud Atlas is, one of the best things about this new film is that fans are finally getting to hear from two of its directors, Andy and Lana Wachowski. Formerly the Wachowski Brothers, the siblings exploded onto the scene in 1999 with the seminal sci-fi action film The Matrix, which was then followed by two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. All three were massive commercial successes, but the sequels were far from revered by fans. Unfortunately, since the Wachowskis chose to maintain their privacy during this time, few got to discuss those films with them.

So now there’s Cloud Atlas and the Wachowskis are being incredibly generous with their time to discuss the film. I had 25 minutes to talk to them and while I had a few Matrix themed questions prepped, we delved so deep into Cloud Atlas we never got around to the subject of their other films. (That interview will be up soon.) One journalist did talk about The Matrix, though, and was fortunate enough to do it on camera. In the video, Lana Wachowkski talks about their intentions with the films, focusing on how the trilogy evolved into more than just a straight action vehicle. Watch it below. Read More »

Given the often contentious relationship between creators and the work they make, unions such as the Directors Guild of America serve a useful purpose. But sometimes rules just get in the way, which seemed for a moment like it would present a problem for Cloud Atlas, written by Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski (which is not a big deal for the WGA) and directed by all three as well. That last part is kind of a big deal for the DGA, which is old enough to remember when movies just had, like, ONE director.

Any credits issues for the film have been worked out, and so unlike the festival cut of the film, general audiences will see a version that explicitly states who “directed” which parts. After asking around, it seems like there won’t be any changes to the actual film, but after the break you can read Lana Wachowski’s comments about the credits, and check out a new TV spot for the film.  Read More »

One of the highlights of Fantastic Fest was last Wednesday’s secret screening, which turned out to be Cloud Atlas, the new film from Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. The Wachowskis were in attendance to do a Q&A afterward, which is something that would have been unthinkable from the directors in years past. But along with the full public revelation of Lana’s new/true identity we seem to be getting a version of the Wachowskis that is much more open to discussing filmmaking.

And so here is an edited portion of the Q&A the two did after Cloud Atlas last week. It has no film spoilers, but is fairly specific to the novel and the movie, so if you’re not very familiar with Cloud Atlas at this point you can watch the long trailer and/or read our breakdown of the film’s six stories at the same link.

The Q&A video is after the break.

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