Earlier this year we heard that Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, and Natalie Portman had all been offered roles in Cloud Atlas, to be directed by Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer. We haven’t heard anything since, although according to Playlist all but McKellen are now attached (he’ll need to find out what’s happening with The Hobbit before doing anything else).
.So why has Cloud Atlas attracted all this talent?
The story presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a naive clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage: and aspiring composer who insinuates himself to the home of a syphilitic genius: a journalist investigating a nuclear plant: a publisher with a dangerous best-seller on his hands: and a cloned human being created for slave labour. These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the story.
Some have said the book by author David Mitchell is un-filmable as it spans thousands of years and over several genres, but Tykwer has been working on adapting the novel into a screenplay for over a year so he should have worked it out by now. There is no studio currently involved, but with big names now attached it shouldn’t take long to find one. It will be an ambitious project, but it could be quite something if Tykwer pulls it off.
The current plan is to film sometime in early 2011, but that will depend on whether the movie gets studio backing, and if all the actors are free.