Sunday, May 19, 2013

Filming the Unfilmable

I wonder what the author David Mitchell would have thought if, nine years ago, someone had told him that 'Cloud Atlas' would be turned into a commercial movie starring Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant and Halle Berry, directed by the people who made 'The Matrix Reloaded'.

I know what I would have thought.

But I watched the film and for all its flaws, it was a triumph. I managed to forget that Tom Hanks was Tom Hanks. Hugh Grant, freed from the tyranny of having to play caricatures of himself, showed that he could really act. As for Halle Berry, she was magnificent.

I'd always assumed that Cloud Atlas was unfilmable, but apparently I was wrong:

My one bugbear was with the narrative structure, which chopped David Mitchell's six stories up into a mosaic of brief scenes that randomly jumped from the middle of the 19th century to the distant future. At first it was exhilarating, then it began to grate. In an ideal world, the DVD will contain an alternative version that re-edits the footage in a way that's more faithful to the novel.

But I'm still bowled-over by the spectacle of seeing the realisation of a book I'd regarded as being completely impossible to film. It probably helped that the cast also included Jim Broadbent, Ben Wishaw, Hugo Weaving and James D'Arcy. But in spite of that, it could have still been exercrably awful.

Now that my prejudices have been cast aside, I'm looking forward to Tom Hanks in Ulysses, complete with dodgy Oirish accent.


Canadian Chickadee said...

Tom Hanks in a film of James Joyce's Ulysses? Really? I hadn't heard about that one coming out. It will be interesting to see what he does with the role...

Annabel said...

I think I'm one of the few that hasn't yet the book - although it sits on my shelves ... Glad to hear the film was good - I look forward to reading/seeing both.
I went to see Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby this weekend with trepidation, and found it wonderful, over the top, yet very faithful to the book - most of the dialogue came straight from the pages.

Nota Bene said...

I'm not a Tom Hanks fan...I've tried but failed...but this film really appeals...just to spite the 'professional critics'...your post makes it sound great

Steerforth said...

Carol - I made that up. But after watching Cloud Atlas, I now believe that it would be possible to film Ulysses, even with Tom Hanks!

Actually, I keep underestimating Tom Hanks. I suppose I've always thought of him as the poor man's Jimmy Stewart and he has been miscast in a few films (e.g. in Bonfire of the Vanities). But he keeps surprising me.

Annabel - You've convinced me. I wasn't keen on seeing it and I didn't like the change of title, but it sounds better than I expected.

Nota Bene - There's nothing I like more than being wrong about someone. I remember thinking that Rufus Sewell was just a good-looking actor with no real substance, then I saw him in Tom Stoppard's Rock and Roll and was blown away.

Canadian Chickadee said...

Steerforth! Shame on you! You know I am the most gullible side kick since Gracie Allen!! :o)