The Mediascape Roundtable: ‘Cloud Atlas’ and Race

One of the most striking features of Cloud Atlas (2012)—directed by Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Andy Wachowski—is how its actors and actresses play across race with the aid of makeup and prosthetics. To discuss the portrayal of race in the movie, the Mediascape Blog convened a roundtable of two film studies graduate students. Their conversation can be read or listened to below, or downloaded in MP3 format.


Click to download “TheMediascapeRoundtable_CloudAtlasAndRace.mp3” (38 minutes, 34.2 MB)

Moderator: J.M. Olejarz

Mediascape Blog: Hi, and welcome to the Mediascape Roundtable. I’m Josh Olejarz, coeditor of the Mediascape Blog. Today we’re going to be talking about Cloud Atlas and its race issues, or maybe it’s more accurate to say the role and portrayal of race in the movie, and whether that is an issue. Before we begin, why don’t I let our other participants introduce themselves, and then we’ll get started. Continue reading “The Mediascape Roundtable: ‘Cloud Atlas’ and Race” »

Mapping Out Multithread Narrative in ‘Cloud Atlas’

Image 1: James D’Arcy and Ben Whishaw, Cloud Atlas

In breaking through the boundaries of conventionality, as referenced during a dream sequence voiceover that marks the film’s most poignant moment of self-reflexivity, Cloud Atlas employs a sprawling range of storytelling scope in its creation of six interrelated narratives that span centuries of human existence. Unlike David Mitchell’s 2004 novel from which it was adapted, the film capitalizes on the capacity of its medium by applying a multithread narrative structure to simultaneously shape each story rather than containing them within individuated sections. While these distinct plotlines are independently functional, it is the manner in which they intersect and coalesce that generates the film’s impact. A consistent use of crosscutting allows each of these narratives to unfold with internal linearity as parallels between the circumstances, characters, actions, and thematic issues are highlighted. This multithread framework allows each of the six parts to function as individual, yet essential, components of the whole, with the film’s totality deriving its significance from the interplay of the complementary layers of narrative. Continue reading “Mapping Out Multithread Narrative in ‘Cloud Atlas’” »