I never reflected properly on Cloud Atlas because there were too many other factors impacting my reception of it at the time. I’d been listening to 30-second snippets of the soundtrack for a week and then the whole thing for the preceding three days, so I had already invested it with more meaning and fondness than any movie could hope to live up to. And then on the heels of its showing, David Mitchell showed up and I went to all his lectures (the last of which I intend to reproduce here mostly in full, thanks to my copious notes, when I have a moment), so it was difficult to separate the movie from the music and the man who wrote the book. And, to be fair, it only dawned on me to write this as I listened to more of the soundtrack, again, at work, so. There’s that.
Something the movie made clearer to me than the book (which, again, I read in chunks, to its detriment, as I read most books in 2009) was the media transformation of each story. I strove, when reading, to ignore this, and focus only on each story—passed-along birthmark notwithstanding—as a story, and became annoyed when stuff I’d already read showed up as a pulp novel or movie. I realize this is embarrassing to admit, the persistent effect of each story being so much the point of the whole book. But I dislike noir and was annoyed when I was forced to regard Luisa Rey’s story as such. And I find it hard to laugh at the elderly shoved into nursing homes and left there to die, so Cavendish’s nightmare turned into a film—even heralding as it did his escape and, moreover, his ability to overcome and even profit from his ordeal—was frustrating for me to see fictionalized in the future. The scholarly regard of the letters of the past—Ewing’s journal and Sixsmith’s letters—I find easier to stomach, because of the seriousness with which the future observers took the past, I guess, and also because of a predisposition to scholarly brow-furrowing that I do no deny.
I also thought the Harrison Bergeron-esque broadcast was well-done.
Anyway, here is the song I was listening to. The Atlas March, which appears in several tracks including this one, is my favorite piece of film scoring done in the past 10 years. And I listen to a LOT of film scores:
ETA: I love marches. I really, really do. And in this one, once they kick in that bump-bump-bump and keep it steady, and then send the strings spiraling around it like a flight of birds rising—if you were to draw it it would be a straight line with a double-helix-y type thing going around it—it’s just great. It really is.