Cloud Atlas Sextet
To me, one of the most interesting parts of Cloud Atlas was the structure of the novel in six parts, further split into halves and woven together. In class, we went over different ways to interpret this structure, but I think the idea of the sextet is the most beautiful. This is the structure that fits the best, showing not only the recurrence of six stories, but also their interconnectedness across time and space. Without this interconnectedness, I don’t think justice is done to the real beauty of the story. Using the idea of a pyramid seems to separate the stories and they don’t seem to fit together as well.
This is why I particularly enjoyed the film adaptation as well. The film flashes quite quickly between the six stories and characters and we see all their endings nearly simultaneously. Coupled with the use of the same actors in each of the six stories, it was made very clear that these stories were not unrelated or merely stepping stones to the apocalypse. These stories interact and affect each other, as the characters do in the book. Most of the time, the characters never even meet each other (with the exception of Luisa Rey and Sixsmith). Interestingly, this seems to cast doubt on the reality of the characters’ stories. For example, Frobisher suggests that Ewing’s journal might be fictional, and the Luisa Rey mystery is actually a manuscript for a publishing company. However, the way that the film and the book connects these stories and overlays them with each other shows that, like a sextet, not only are they all valid as stories, but they are all just as important.
As a closing note, I quite enjoyed the Cloud Atlas film soundtrack and the composers’ interpretation of the “Cloud Atlas Sextet”. It is interesting to note that one of the composers was Tom Tykwer, who co-directed the film with Lana and Andy Wachowski.