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The Wachowskis’ World beyond “The Matrix” : The New Yorker

Stashed in: Awesome, Are You Not Entertained?, Create, New Yorker, Hollywood, The Matrix, Quentin Tarantino, Cloud Atlas, @tomhanks

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It's been 12 years since the Matrix. Holy crap.

In the Wachowskis’ work, the forces of evil are often overwhelmingly powerful, inflicting misery on humans, who maintain their faith until they’re saved by an unexpected miracle. The story of the making of “Cloud Atlas” fits this narrative trajectory pretty well.

Yeah, that pretty much sums up The Matrix too.

I'm looking forward to "Cloud Atlas"

Well, the matrix with positive impact is going to be there for sure.

No one has thought of all positive possibilities of the Matrix.

That's true.

It will be interesting watching The Matrix next time, knowing that one of the directors was at that time a woman trapped in a man's body. The Matrix is rich with metaphor.

Dina, did you get to see Cloud Atlas yet?

Their new movie sounds really great:

“Cloud Atlas” seemed poised to usher audiences into an era of imaginative adventure filmmaking beyond the mindless nihilism of “Transformers” or “Resident Evil.” The movie carefully guided the viewer through its six story lines with just enough intriguing unfamiliarity, while succeeding—nearly miraculously—in creating a sense of connectedness among the myriad characters and retaining Mitchell’s idea of the universality of love, pain, loss, and desire. Doona Bae, who plays (among others) Sonmi~451, the “fabricant” who evolves into full humanity in 2144, was a revelation. The Wachowskis’ formal boldness, balanced with heartwarming redemption, was a perfect match for Tykwer’s precise filmmaking and gorgeous music.

Opens October 26th.

I'm in anticipation of October premiere. It's not that often we have a luxury to witness cinematic ART.

Elnura, I agree, it's rare to find a film that's willing to be so ambitious.

This year so far we have The Dark Knight Rises as well.

And we finish the year with The Hobbit and the new Quentin Tarantino film. Bonus!

The Hobbit! Tarantino! Movie heaven for me. :) The Matrix is still one of my all time favorite movies! (My cat's name is Trinity)

Adam, so true. I'm inspired by their persistence and strong believe in this project. Most importantly, their focus on artistic expression, not as much on revenues. I like that they used some form of crowd funding - so today... :) Let's hope the audience won't be disappointed and their efforts would pay off!

Dina, I love the name Trinity for a cat!

Elnura, I hope they hit big in the box office so they can keep making their art!

I LOVE Cloud Atlas, the book they making into a film. love love love. go read it

Wow, that was excellent. Thank you for sharing, C!

Christina, have you seen the movie yet?

Yes. It was good though the makeup was rather dreadful

Understood about the makeup. Was the movie true to the book?

And wasn't the Cloud Atlas Sextet amazing?

As true as it could be, I suppose, as there was a lot in the book and a lot in the movie. It got only a little review in the New Yorker

These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel. Only after this do the second halves of the stories fall into place, pulling the novel’s themes into focus: the ease with which one group enslaves another, and the constant rewriting of the past by those who control the present. Against such forces, Mitchell’s characters reveal a quiet tenacity. When the clerk is told that his life amounts to “no more than one drop in a limitless ocean,” he asks, “Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”

The thing is, the movie didn't trust it's audience as much as the book did. It added or emphasized lines to make sure we were getting things. It added in much more love story and happy endings. And the dark wasn't as dark. A lot of the subtly in the book was lost. You leave the movie thinking, We have karma, slavery is bad, love is forever. I think people who read the book might have more complex and more varying thoughts along the lines (for me) of how hard it is for us to live among humans, whose minds we don't know. And when we don't understand them, how too easy it is to turn them into objects we own. And why don't we evolve? Will there always be the potential for evil in our societies, despite Pinker's assertions in Angels of Our Better Self. Are we born with a desire to abuse and own? Is that darkness ever gone, or just waiting to reemerge?

In the book, the future society also reflects the slavery/violence theme. The barbarians didn't just kill agrarians, they enslaved them. The point of the attacks was usually to get more slaves. And so there seemed to be a reoccurring theme that was less about karma and more about constant struggle to refind our humanity.

It's not that specific humans seek to redeem their karma, it's that humanity does.


Adam's story was pretty true, but the doctor in the book seemed really a friend almost to the end until the slave intervenes. It's really shocking when you realize what has happened. The betrayal is deeper. Hanks never makes the doctor likable. The fake teeth don't help.

Robert Frobisher's story is tidy'd up, as in the book he falls in love with his "one true love" Vivian's daughter. So he is opportunistic and bisexual. I don't know if they cleaned the up for lack of a spare ingenue or a distaste for the moral complexities of the bisexual. Or maybe there was just so goddamn much plot something had to go. But it would have spoiled their tidy reunification scene with sexsmith.

Louisa Rey was fun, and essentially right. Mostly edited down for length, but they caught the struggle to get the proof right. I'm happy they kept the kid Jesus.

The music was lovely, and the story of Timothy Cavadish was great and the most accurate to the book, I felt. The pub scene is my favorite.

Somni's story was also treated reverently. There was a scene they slip over I wish they had included, where a woman in the street assumes Somni is a rich purebread who just had herself made up to look like a somni, and that might be a new fashion. She wants to know what doctor did such a good job. Somni does get altered to hide for a while, then goes back to her old face so she can die as Somni. As well, in the book Somni chooses to die, to be a martyr so the world will consider fabricants human. But more interestingly perhaps, fabricants aren't human until some humans decide to experiment to see if they can give them free will, which they weren't engineered to have it. It's more like they gave intelligence to pack animals when they give intelligence and free will to the fabricants.

Even more complexly, the fabricants are given free will from some kid's PHD thesis experiment, not out of any noble urge.

The moral questions are not very clear in this section in the book. It's more like, once you start messing with nature, it's a long way back to a world where right and wrong are easily identified. I missed this richness.

Sorry, now you know why I just said the makeup is bad. Everything else is very very complicated.

The book is still unbelievably fantastic and still worth reading. The movie is good, but just like the makeup is obvious, the lessons are too.

A reviewer I saw said I wish the film had been more daring. In many ways it was still a hollywood film. But I'll still watch it a second time. at least.

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