'Cloud Atlas': 6-minute trailer stokes excitement – and book sales

An unusually long trailer for the upcoming film version of David Mitchell novel 'Cloud Atlas' suggests an ambitious and visually stunning movie.

Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are among the stars of 'Cloud Atlas,' a movie based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell which weaves together six different stories that range from the South Pacific in the 1800s and to a dystopian future.

You thought it couldn’t be done?

The extended movie trailer for “Cloud Atlas” was leaked online – and though it may yet be too soon to tell – word is, the motion picture adaptation of the intense, centuries-spanning novel is extraordinarily stunning.

IndieWire called it “staggeringly ambitious” and “visually impressive.”

The Wall Street Journal noted that the nearly 6-minute trailer, which debuted on Apple’s website Thursday, was such a hit it bumped “Cloud Atlas” from 2,509 on Amazon’s best seller list to No. 7 in record time. Random House has ordered 25,000 new paperbacks to meet the renewed interest. Not so unusual for a movie version of a book to stimulate fresh interest in an old title. But a mere trailer? Now that’s impressive.

As is the trailer.

Lana and Andy Wachowski – the sibling duo behind “The Matrix” – and Tom Tykwer are behind the “and-you-thought-it-couldn’t-be-done-transformation” of David Mitchell’s acclaimed bestseller. The film, which weighs in at 164 minutes, stars an eclectic cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Bae Doona, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Keith David, James D’Arcy, and Hugo Weaving.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the book and why this trailer is so impressive, consider this: “[A]uthor David Mitchell’s dense, centuries-spanning novel ... tells six separate but interlocking stories starting in the South Pacific in the 1800s and progressing to a dystopian future with genetic clones,” writes the Los Angeles Times. Among the “disparate worlds that the directors have created,” writes IndieWire are “a Pacific sea expedition in the 19th century, Belgium in the 1930s, San Francisco in the 1970s, London in the present day, Korea in a dystopian future, and Hawaii at the end of time.”

The 2004 novel tells the mind-bending stories of six narrators across time and space whose stories and histories are connected and whose actions impact one another’s destinies. The novel won the British Book Award’s Literary Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the 2004 Booker Prize.  

“As big fans of the book, we've wondered for some time if the filmmakers would be able to come anywhere close to its material, but we have to confess that this is pretty stunning, for the most part,” writes IndieWire. “The production values look incredibly high, the scope and ambition and variety is like nothing else we've seen in a long time, and the cast, aided by some excellent make-up, look to be rising to the occasion.”

If the trailer generates this much interest, we’re eager to see the impact of the actual film – on audiences and of course, in the resurgence of interest in the original novel.

“The experts all said it was too complicated,” Lana Wachowski told the LA Times.

So far, it seems the adaptation has exceeded all expectations.

 “Cloud Atlas” will makes is world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and hit US theaters Oct. 26.

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