Hermia & I went to see Cloud Atlas at the cinema. Like, the NIGHT it came out. (We’re that awesome.) It was a very interesting experience, largely because she & I had very different relationships to the GENIUS David Mitchell book when we saw the film.
I read Cloud Atlas two years ago, when a good friend of mine picked it for Book Club. This Book Club, Gentle Readers, gets to be capitalized because we actually talked about the books at Book Club. The rules of Book Club were the opposite of Fight Club: you always talk about Book Club! Of course, now everyone in Book Club has moved away, and I have no more Book Club. But I have Gentle Readers. So things all worked out…
Back to the narrative: I read Cloud Atlas, and loved it, and have been SUPER FREAKING EXCITED about the movie for ages. But it’s been two years since my reading. So the book has that delightful, warm’n’fuzzy sensation of being loved while not being particularly well-remembered. Hermia had just finished it, practically the day we saw the movie. She was a bit more critical, as things were somewhat more sharply-edged in her mind.
With the exception of the horrendously bad Asian make-up (did we HAVE to give everyone piss-poor Asiaticism? They all looked like Charleton Heston pretending to be Mexican in Touch of Evil. It was offensive!), I thought that the movie was an overall success. It was crazy ambitious. Like, balls-to-the-wall, WTF, unfilmable ambitious. It is not flawless; it is not perfect. But the film did two things:
1) It made me feel, as I left the theatre, just as I had felt when I finished the book. The book hangover and the movie hangover were JUST the same. I was thoughtfully pleased, unsure of what had just happened, and damn sure I wanted to do it again.
2) It made me want to re-read the book. When I first finished Cloud Atlas two years ago, I was unsure as to whether I would ever re-read it. Now I HAD TO.
Gentle Readers, it’s even better the second time around! This time I was not focused so very tightly on what happened. I was able to unfocus my mental eye enough to take in the whole picture, to let the book happen to me, instead of barreling through the plot to see what happened next. It was the Magic Eye version of reading. I saw so many more layers, and so many colors of connection, than the first time I read Mitchell. It was a bit like reading Shakespeare, for me. No, I am not making Mitchell into the Bard: don’t get your panties all in a twist! I am merely saying that when one reads Shakespeare for the second or third (or fifty-seventh) time, one lets go of plot and enjoys the language, the structure, the craft of it. …There may have been a happy sigh, and some unobserved clutching of said book to my bosom.Cloud Atlas @ Barnes & Noble