“Cloud Atlas”: A Closer Look

Of all of the films this year, and of the decade perhaps, not one is as original, daring, or as flat out ballsy as Cloud Atlas, the ambitious epic from the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer and based off David Mitchell’s best selling novel. Weaving together six narratives that span centuries, the film creates one emotional arch in a way that has never been done before and it’s something you have never seen and probably will never see again at the movies. Though we can’t get enough of this masterpiece here at Reel Reactions, the film flopped at the box office, grossing a weak $9.4 million opposite a massive $100 million budget. However, there is still time to see this one-of-a-kind wonder, so this weekend give this ambitious piece of art a chance and join us as we take a closer look at the characters of Cloud Atlas:

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Tom Hanks (Dr. Henry Goose, Hotel Manager, Isaac Sachs, Dermot Hoggins, Cavendish-Look-a-Like Actor, Zachry)

Of all the different characters repeating through the six storylines, Tom Hanks’ characters have the clearest arc. His is a journey of temptation, redemption, and the universal struggle to do the right thing. He has a clear arc from the villain of the first storyline into the hero of the final one, and we see his character in other timelines struggle with his selfish tendencies and his desire to be a better person. We also witness the powerful influence that outside forces, such as love, can have on these characters and the affect they can have on their actions

We are first introduced to Hanks as Dr. Henry Goose in 1850, a seemingly kind and eccentric doctor who is nice enough to offer his services to Adam. However, as the story progresses we learn that Dr. Goose has ulterior motives: he wants the gold Adam is carrying with him and he has been slowly poisoning Adam throughout their journey in order to take it. Here we see Tom Hanks at his most reprehensible. He is a man that is completely in tune with his greed and selfishness, one who no qualms about poisoning Adam and attempting to kill the stowaway slave, Auata. There is no shred of disgust or repulsion at his actions; he believes himself completely justified due to his superior intellect as a doctor, and as he says himself, “The weak are meat, and the strong do eat.”  Part of these actions can also be attributed to his lack of a relationship with Halle Berry’s character. It is clear from his actions in the future storylines that all the characters played by Halle Berry have a significant affect on Tom Hank’s character. It is through their interactions that the goodness in his soul is able to overcome the domineering temptation he feels at every turn, and she inspires him to rise above his station and think of others over himself.

We next see him in the 1930’s storyline as the manager of the hotel that Robert Frobisher spends his last days in. Here he is not so overtly evil, but his natural tendencies for greed and money are just as apparent. He takes advantage of Frobisher’s legal problems and extorts him. Again, in this storyline he has no relationship with Halle Berry and therefore he has given into his temptations without looking back, and he also has no reason to question his actions and no outside force to influence him, so he gives into his base desires.

Then in 1970, he is Isaac Sachs, a physicist at the nuclear power company, and it’s here that we begin to see a change in this character’s progression from villain to hero. Before he walks into the office and meets Luisa Rey, Isaac is comfortable with his job, even though he has knowledge of the company’s plan to intentionally blow up a nuclear reactor. However, once he meets Luisa Rey (played by, yes you guessed it, Halle Berry) his positive qualities overwhelm his negative ones as he sees what Luisa Rey is willing to sacrifice in order to do what’s right and it shakes him to his core. He instantly recognizes the inhumanity of the company’s dealings and his part in it, and, as a result, he takes action to repair his mistakes, which ironically ends up costing him his life. It is in this storyline that we are able to make the connection of how Dr. Goose can be the same man as Zachry, Hanks’ character in the last way future storyline, for we see that he doesn’t change on his own, but it is through the influence of Halle Berry that he is able to overcome the oppression of temptation and greed.

You see, in the 2012 storyline, Dermot Hoggins only shares a brief glance with Halle Berry’s party guest, and therefore his negative tendencies overrule his desire to change.  He doesn’t have the outside influence he needs to change, so nothing holds him back from throwing the critic off the balcony. It’s also possible to assume that this action was partially motivated by greed since the critic was standing in the way of his book becoming successful. His character in the Neo-Seoul storyline is a bit of an outlier because we don’t see more than a quick glimpse of him. It’s not until the After-the-Fall storyline where his transformation from villain to hero is truly completed.

When we first meet Zachry we are immediately reminded of his self-serving nature through the murder of his brother-in-law and nephew by the Kona. When the Kona arrive and begin to toy with his brother-in-law, Zachry’s first tendency is to hide rather than fight back, proof that he thinks of himself rather than others and that he is unwilling to risk his own life for his family. However, as he meets Meronym (Halle Berry), he begins to change and begins to understand the importance of sacrifice and starts to believe in the greater good. It’s extremely interesting to watch because Meronym and Old Georgie serve as the angel and devil on Zachry’s shoulders, constantly telling him to do the opposite of the other, but it is through Zachry’s love for Meronym and his willingness to change that he is able to overcome the temptations that he has succumbed to for thousands of years. The strength that she displays throughout their journey together helps him push past the temptation he’s succumbed to time after time, life after life.

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Hugo Weaving (Haskell Moore, Tadeusz Kesselring, Bill Smoke, Nurse Noakes, Boardman Mephi, Old Georgie)

While the majority of the characters in Cloud Atlas have adapting personalities and arcs throughout the six different stories, the characters played by Hugo Weaving are almost universally unchanging. In each of the six storylines, Hugo Weaving’s characters serve as the representation of oppression and the stubbornness of those in power. You see, there is a clear theme throughout the six different storylines, and while they may each focus on largely different events and people, at their core each storyline is about the human spirit’s fight against oppression, and in every storyline Hugo Weavings character serves as the physical representation of said subjugation.

In the 1850 storyline he plays Haskel Moore, the father in law of Jim Sturgess’ Adam Ewing. Moore is the writer of an immensely popular book about the nature of the white man versus the black man, and how the black man is comfortable and happy being subservient to the white man. It’s through Adam’s journey at sea and his interactions with Autua that he learns that his father in law is wrong and manages to fight back against his father in law and stand up for what’s right. He plays Tadeusz Kesselring in the 1930’s storyline, a Nazi who is a colleague of Vyvyan Ayrs. While he doesn’t play a major role, by merely being a Nazi he is endorsing the act of oppressing an entire race of people.  Then in the 1970’s storyline he plays Bill Smoke, the assassin that the nuclear power company sends after Luisa Rey. In this storyline he serves as the physical tool that those in power use to oppress the people and achieve their goals.

 Then he is nearly unrecognizable as Nurse Noakes, the unflappable woman that forces Timothy Cavendish to stay in the old person’s home against his will, acting under the assumption that the old are nothing but weak, meager creatures who should be locked up for the remainder of their lives. Then in Neo-Seoul he is the head of Unanimity, the government in control of Neo-Seoul. He is the head of the ruling class which takes the saying “The weak are meat and the strong do eat” quite literally as they recycle fabricants by feeding them to one another. Finally, in the After-the-Fall storyline, he is the physical representation of the temptation that Tom Hank’s character faces, presented in the form of his religion’s version of the devil.

His characters are all representative of the worst qualities of humanity, the qualities that each of the main characters need to rise above in order to save themselves and humanity as a whole. Had Tom Hanks not resisted the temptation that Hugo Weaving’s Old Georgie represented, then the human race would have died out. In each storyline, Weaving is the physical object standing in the way of humanity reaching a higher, coexistent plane. While there are a variety of different things at stake, some big and some small, each victory represents a step forward for humanity and a step closer to achieving the peace and prosperity that each character inevitably dreams of and achieves thanks to the sacrifice and struggles of Zachary and Meroynm in the After-the Fall Storyline.

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Doona Bae (Tilda, Megan’s Mom, Mexican Woman, Somni-451, Somni-351) & Jim Sturgess (Adam Ewing, Poor Hotel Guest, Megan’ Dad, Highlander, Hae-Joo Chang, Adam)

While you could easily dedicate two different sections to these actors and the different characters they play, it is especially interesting to examine them as a pair, in part because their two souls are more intrinsically entwined than any of the other characters thanks to their transcending love. The foundation of these two characters and their arcs is the idea of the boundlessness of love, that love is as everlasting as time and forms a bond so strong it leads you to one another life after life.

The relationship between Jim Sturgess’ characters and Doona Bae’s are especially interesting because it is through their mutual love that they are able to stand up to the oppression that surrounds them. Like the Halle Berry/Tom Hanks relationship, their relationship gives them strength and purpose, and without each other they are no more than average, everyday citizens, while together they are able to change the world.

The most screen-time is devoted to their relationship in the Neo-Seoul storyline. It is here we see the influence and affect that these two souls have on one another. Jim Sturgess’ Hae-Joo Chang is the one who initially saves Somni-451 from her tank and he recognizes the power she can bring to the Union’s side, but he also recognizes her as a fellow human being rather than a tank born fabricant and diner slave. As their relationship develops so does their influence on one another, and we see their relationship grow from their initial meeting to the point where they are madly in love and completely devoted to one another.  He educates her, shows her the way the world operates, and gives her the strength to stand up against the oppressing society. He believes in her so fervently that she is able to sacrifice herself in order to spread her message of peace and change the course of the world. Meanwhile, he is given purpose by their relationship and the reversal of their roles. At first, Chang is in control of their relationship, he saves her from captivity multiple times and ensures that she is safely delivered to the Union. However, once she is shown the “fabricant meat factory”, she understands what is necessary to change this inhumane society, and Chang is willing to follow her to the very end; he is so devoted that he risks and loses his life in order to ensure that she is able to spread her message.

At the beginning of the 1850 storyline, it appears that Doona Bae has no part to play and it initially seems to be a self-contained story dealing with Adam’s journey. The majority of the story takes place on the ship and deals with Adam’s struggles to overcome the abuse and poison of Dr. Goose. Throughout the voyage we hear Adam constantly mention his wife and how he needs to be cured so he can make it back to San Francisco to his beloved. He is sad to part with his wedding ring because of his “parasite,” and he constantly gazes longingly at his painting of her. His undying love for her is what gives him the strength to carry on and fight Dr. Goose in order to save his own life, it gives him purpose similar to how Somni gives Chang purpose in the future. He is so determined by love that he is willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means risking his own life.

However, we don’t ever see the wife until the end of the story where it’s revealed in an amazing sequence that his wife is none other than Tilda, played under heavy makeup by Doona Bae. The fact that this reveal bookends the Neo-Seoul storyline is what makes it especially brilliant. Because we have already watched their entire relationship develop from beginning to end in another life is what makes the lack of screen-time of their relationship in 1850 completely irrelevant. By the time the 1850 reveal comes around, we already know what attracts these two characters together and what their dynamic is, so it’s entirely believable that they would stand up to her father for what’s right in the past.

What’s especially interesting are the immense differences in the characters they play that have no interaction with one another. In the 1970 storyline, Doona Bae plays the Mexican woman who owns the factory that Luisa Rey uses to escape Bill Smoke, and in 2012 Jim Sturgess plays the highlander at the bar. It’s extremely interesting to see these characters that seem so different from Somni-451 and Chang yet are played by the same actors. At first, it’s difficult to make a connection, but once you dig deep enough you find that the characters share a lot in common, while also harboring some significant differences.

The most evident is their willingness to fight against the oppressive state. In the 70’s story, the Mexican woman saves Luisa Rey from Bill Smoke by smashing him over the head with a wrench, and in 2012, the highlander is the first to fight back against Nurse Noakes and the other members of the elderly home, even going as far as to smash a barrel over Noakes head (see the connection?). Already there is a close connection between these two as they both save the heroes of their respective stories from the oppressive force played by Hugo Weaving. They step up when they are needed most and are still willing to fight against those who oppress others, but they are both slightly unhinged, and extremely more violent than Somni and Chang. They seem to lack the purpose and strength of their lives where they do meet. They seem to be more apathetic and reactive rather than actively pursuing change. Though they still have that desire in them, as evidenced by their individual fights against Hugo Weaving, it is not as concentrated and resolute as their actions when they are together.

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Halle Berry (Native Woman, Jocasta Arys, Luisa Rey, Indian Party Guest, Ovid, Meronym) 

Halle Berry’s six representations throughout time display her soul’s evolutionary growth in strength, courage, and personal security spanning from a native woman in 1849 to the savior of the human race’s future in a post-apocalyptic storyline taking place ‘After the Fall.’ In addition to a clear change in her soul’s progression through time, Halle Berry’s six characters are also, many times, directly connected to some characters portrayed by Tom Hanks. Like other characters played by Jim Sturgess and Donna Bae (as previously discussed), the relationship between Hanks and Berry’s souls are eternally connected through time and that connection is what makes Hanks go from a destructive and selfish, murdering doctor to a brave tribesman and what makes Berry go from an insignificant slave to one of humanity’s most important figures.

In the earliest set storyline of 1849, Berry’s role is a blink-and-you-miss-it performance as she dons facial markings and short, gray hair. She makes brief eye contact with Jim Sturgess’s Adam Ewing as he peruses the plantation fields, and she gives a memorable face to the nameless slaves that are employed by the immoral Reverend Giles Horrox (Hugh Grant). She’s severely underdeveloped, but is visibly affected by the slavery-related oppression of the times and her look toward the conflicted Ewing arguably instigates the sympathetic mindset that allows Ewing to form a saving relationship with the self-freed slave, Autua.

After nearly a century has passed, Halle Berry takes the form of Jocasta Ayrs, the wife to famed British composer, Vyvyan Ayrs. In a virtually unrecognizable performance, Berry plays the white and Jewish Ayrs, whose loving relationship with her sick composer husband has nearly crumbled completely. The unsettled composer’s fading health has forced Jocasta into being Vyvyan’s nurse as opposed to his wife, and when up and coming composer and amanuensis Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) enters their household to assist with Vyvyan’s composing future, she is drawn to him sexually and thanks the young man for bringing love back into the Ayrs’ household. Internally distraught by her marital status, her composure and confidence widdled to the edge, she performs an adulterous act proving to be slightly more developed than her previous soul embodiment, but still oppressed because of her sustained household life and because of the times (a Jewish woman living in the late 1930s).

In 1973, Berry’s soul reaches a peak as she becomes Spyglass journalist Luisa Rey, who is following a lead about a mistreated nuclear reactor that, upon explosion, could end hundred, probably thousands, of human lives. She encounters characters from previous storylines (James D’Arcy’s Rufus Sixsmith) and new ones, most notably Dr. Issac Sacs, played by Tom Hanks. In this first encounter between Hanks’ and Berry’s souls, the two of them are massively influenced to progress through the future in certain ways. Sacs decides to help Rey and it costs him his life, while this human act reverberates on Rey’s end by having her get closer and closer, inch by inch, to understanding the plot of nuclear reactor’s potential destruction. Rey is a woman whose biggest fear is not living up to her father’s reputation as one of the finest journalists, and we see her visibly conflicted regarding the decisions she makes and her skills as a journalist. Upon her publishing the story that will unravel the potential crisis, she has found her courage and her strength while her former cowardice takes a back seat and her soul begins a rich foray into the next time periods.

In another brief appearance, like in the 1849 storyline, Berry appears as an Indian party guest attending the Lemon Awards in 2012 London. She locks eyes for a couple seconds with sensitive Scottish gangster-turned-author Dermot Hoggins, again played by Hanks.  They share a look of recognition, but one that is not sustained long enough to stop Hanks’ soul from turning to the destructive forces of temptation. Hoggins proceeds to throw his book’s critic off the balcony, splattering him on the street below, and the film seems to suggest this could have been avoided had that look of recognition expanded into something more personal. By 2012, it has become apparent that Berry’s and Hanks’ souls are destined to be connected through time and it will be a combination of her confidence and his desire to overcome temptation that will finally unite them once and for all.

Like Tom Hanks who appears in the 2144 Neo Seoul storyline, Halle Berry appears briefly as Dr. Ovid, and in heavy prosthetics Berry portrays a disfigured, futuristic male doctor. While her appearance is brief (and, again, not easily recognizable), her purpose in the Neo Seoul storyline, in which she frees Sonmi-451 from her fabricant collar, is a strong act, a factor in what allows Sonmi-451’s courage to instigate a rebellion against the future’s Unanimity and directly affects the lifetime of Maronym, Berry’s final portrayal within in the six storylines.

In the ‘After the Fall’ storyline, Berry’s Maronym and Hanks’ Zachry work together, much to Zachry’s dislike originally, to eventually save the future of humanity in this post-apocalyptic world, and their time together eventually ignites a romance that leads to their souls’ eternal happiness. Maronym, inspired by the confidence that she found as Luisa Rey centuries before, has officially transformed over the six storylines and the fated romance between Berry and Hanks that has been nodded toward in the previous lifetimes finally comes to complete fruition. This all prosperously occurs once Hanks has fought off his previous temptations and Berry has gained the strength of six lifetimes.

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Ben Whishaw (Cabin Boy, Robert Frobisher, Store Clerk, Georgette, Tribesman) 

Ben Whishaw’s progression through time is very different when aligning him with his co-stars’ arcs. Unlike the characters that become stronger, or more confident, or show very little to no change at all, Ben Whishaw’s characters all show a definite connection to one another in that they are almost in direct contact with one another. It’s an odd connection that Whishaw’s characters share, but it’s one that is cleverly devised by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, therefore making it one of the more unique choices within the character construction of Cloud Atlas.

Inarguably, Ben Whishaw’s most prominent character in Cloud Atlas is Robert Frobisher, the homosexual amanuensis in 1936 who works for Vyvyan Ayrs and is describing his romance with beloved Rufus Sixsmith through his heartfelt written letters. In the life previous, he rode aboard the same ship that was carrying Adam Ewing back to San Francisco. Though nothing but a lineless cabin boy who has a brief abusive scene where the ship’s captain pushes him into the galley wall, Frobisher is seen reading Ewing’s personal journal that has been published by 1936. In a letter to Sixsmith, Frobisher describes the affection he has toward the published journal and how upset he is that the copy he has dug into is unfinished with numerous pages missing. He feels a connection to Ewing’s account because he too, in 1849, was aboard that same ship, therefore it must create some sort of subconscious nostalgia that is allowing Frobisher to, unknowingly, feel connected to the seafaring voyage and become inclined to ‘learn’ of Ewing’s trials and tribulations.

In 1973, Luisa Rey ventures into a music store to inquire about the ‘Cloud Atlas Sextet,’ which was the only released composition by Robert Frobisher before he committed suicide in 1936. In the music store, the ‘Cloud Atlas Sextet’ is playing and the store’s clerk shows an obvious affection for the track’s beauty and significance to him personally – mainly because the clerk is also played by Ben Whishaw. The clerk’s desire to regularly listen to the ‘Cloud Atlas Sextet’ stems from the fact that in a previous life he was the one who actually wrote and composed this gorgeous musical selection. Berry acknowledges the loveliness of the music and her belief that she must have heard the music somewhere before (she did, in a previous life as Jocasta Ayrs listening to Frobisher compose the piece in her home), but it’s the clerk’s love for the piece that is far more interesting because his deep connection to the music, which he can’t logically understand, parallels his connection to the identity of his former life.

Now the role Whishaw takes on in the 2012 storyline is very intriguing, a decision that I think is wonderfully constructed by the Wachowskis and Tykwer. In the 1936 storyline when Frobisher shows Vyvyan Ayrs the nearly completed ‘Cloud Atlas Sextet,’ they share a mildly homoerotic moment that Frobisher mistakes for deliberate romance and he begins to come onto Ayrs. Ayrs refutes the motion and laughs in Frobisher’s face, forcing the young composer into embarrassment and threatening to leave the Ayrs’ home the following morning. Years later, in 2012, Whishaw plays a female character, the wife of Denholme Cavendish (Hugh Grant), who is the brother of Timothy Cavendish, the leading character of this storyline played by Jim Broadbent. Interestingly, Whishaw’s Georgette Cavendish has cheated on Denny with Timothy, creating an even deeper schism than what already resides in their brotherly relationship. In 1936, Whishaw’s soul attempted to make sexual advances toward Broadbent’s Vyvyan Ayrs, but he rejected them with a bold laugh and deprecating accusations. In 2012, Broadbent’s soul has had a change of heart and accepted those previous advances once Whishaw’s soul had taken a more acceptable form: A woman. Therefore, the eroticism that has flared up between both Whishaw and Broadbent through time periods has been fulfilled by 2012. ‘After the Fall,’ Whishaw simply plays a tribesman, one that resembles his role as the ship’s cabin boy in 1849, demonstrating a possible descent back toward the role of that previous lifetime.

Whishaw’s soul moves through time in a far less linear fashion than other actors do in Cloud Atlas.Yet, instead of a negative cosine curve that leads Whishaw’s soul back to the same kind of role it possessed in 1849, hopefully he will progress through all the following lifetimes in the direction of a sine curve allowing him to progress upward like he did in the first few soul embodiments.

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Hugh Grant (Rev. Giles Horrox, Hotel Heavy, Lloyd Hooks, Denholme Cavendish, Seer Rhee, Kona Chief) 

What’s one of the most original choices about Cloud Atlas? Having British rom-com actor Hugh Grant play six villainous roles through each of the six distinct time periods. From 1849 to ‘After the Fall,’ Grant’s characters get substantially more villainous with their motives greatly affecting the leading characters of each storyline. However, what makes Grant’s six characters interesting is that the way they get more villainous in not in the traditional sense of cinematic villainy, but they get substantially more savage to the point where the last two characters in Grant’s soul’s arc don’t even have any lines.

In 1849, Grant plays Reverend Giles Horrox, a dishonorable and immoral Reverend who sponsors the colonizing voyage that Adam Ewing is venturing on. His views of the contemporary world of 1849 very much aligns with those of Haskel Moore (one of Hugh Weaving’s embodiments) who sees the African Americans as subservient and women merely one step higher on the human hierarchy chart. Though second to Tom Hanks’ horrible Dr. Henry Goose in this storyline, the Reverend displays his subtle evilness through his sly niceties and politeness to the naïve Adam Ewing.

In 1936, Grant plays the Hotel Heavy who bangs on Robert Frobisher’s door in a Cambridge hotel threatening the young man with a call to his father. Grant’s turn as the Hotel Heavy is his least memorable of the six performances, but he demonstrates a tame form of villainy within the time period and specifically to the main character of Robert Frobisher in 1936. The savage difference between Reverend Horrox and the Hotel Heavy differs very little, but the subtle evilness is prevalent. In 1973, Grant’s character is much more overtly evil as his smarminess becomes very obvious and his selfishness and lack of care for human life starts to creep toward the forefront. He plays Lloyd Hooks, the CEO of nuclear facility that owns an unstable nuclear reactor that Hooks intends on letting explode to benefit the oil companies. Hooks knows that the more people that are affected and the more people that die due to the reactor’s destruction, the better for the oil’s companies. This unbelievable carelessness for human life, combined with his apparent slimy demeanor and statements (a bizarre crack at Women’s Literature to Berry’s Luisa Rey is particularly lame sexism) show a dangerous man with lots of power.  Hooks is a visibly evil man with despicable aims and motives.

In 2012, Grant plays the brother of Jim Broadbent’s Timothy Cavendish, Denholme Cavendish. Addressed by his brother with a plea for some lifesaving cash, Denny at first tries to shoo Timothy away until he realizes that he could use this opportunity to selfishly extract revenge on his sibling who he knows has slept with his frigid wife, Georgette (Ben Whishaw). Denny tells Timothy he has a safe place for him to hide while he works on getting the money that Timothy wants to borrow, but the safe house is actually a caretaking home for the elderly and unstable. Timothy is tricked into being subjected to the abusive treatments of Nurse Noakes (Hugo Weaving) all due to Denny’s conniving little scheme. Though Denny’s nasty decisions are relegated to a far more sustained environment in the 2012 storyline, it’s the gross satisfaction he earns from knowing that his own brother is being subject to ‘criminal abuse’ that makes him an individually more selfish, and therefore savage, person. While Lloyd Hooks may be a more evil character in a broader and more traditional sense, Grant’s soul’s arc grows to be far more diabolical and despicable.

In the 2144 plot in Neo Seoul, Grant plays Seer Rhee, the overseer of the restaurant where fabricants, specifically Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae), are employed. It is in this character that we see a massive transition in soul structure and a definitive savagery, in the classic definition of the term, develops within his formation. Seer Rhee is a soap user (soap is a major intoxicant in this future) and a sex addict who uses his fabricant employees to quench his sexual desires. In one sequence, Sonmi-451 spots him making gross, cringe-inducing love to Yoona-939 (Xun Zhou) and then pass out because of his soap addiction. When Yoona-939 breaks protocol and speaks back to a consumer, she attempts to flee the restaurant but Seer Rhee, with little hesitation, detonates her property collar and a deep slice in her neck causes her to bleed to death. Seer Rhee’s more neanderthalic characteristics are the signifiers a far more simple existence, one of little meaning or authority or overwhelming power. A Reverend, Cambridge hotel authority, business CEO, and even a wealthy Englishman are all relatively powerful types of people and Seer Rhee is a departure showing the obvious descent of importance and scope of evil. Seer Rhee is a small role, but in just little time we are witness to his savage mentality and decisions, which are exponentially more horrific in the sixth and final character played by Hugh Grant.

‘After the Fall,’ in a post-apocalyptic future, Hugh Grant returns as the Kona Chief, who is a literal savage. Dressed in Native American-inspired garb, face paint, riding horses and fighting with machetes and arrows, the Kona are a cannibalistic tribe that consistently threaten the livelihood of the Valleymen, a sector of humanity that resembles a hunting and gathering community; these people are a substantially less sophisticated designation of society with an dialect containing the linguistic depth of a very early elementary school student. There are more technologically advanced forms of society in this time period (Halle Berry’s Maronym is of this type) that can reach far away places off-world. Yet, the Koda are the least civilized of any human-like people living in this time period. They specialize in mass murder and are built on greed and individualized survival in the moment and probably wouldn’t be afraid of killing a member of their own kind. The Koda Chief murders Zachry’s (Tom Hanks) brother-in-law and son-in-law as well as his wife before burning his village to the ground. Though he is eventually murdered at the a revenge-seeking Zachry, in his moments on the screen, the Koda Chief is a disgusting form of humanity that can only be labeled as an outright savage. He is a brutal version of society at its lowest form in a dim future at the brink of extinction.

In his six characters, Hugh Grant shows a decrease in complexity, morality, sensibility, and civility over the course of thousands of years playing out in six specific time periods. Similar to Hugo Weaving who’s characters all embody a time period-specific form of natural order and condescending truths, Hugh Grant portrays six embodiments of evil, but the form of evil evolves as time goes on, from subtle and tame to frightening and barbaric.

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Article by Mike Murphy & James Hausman

 

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