If all you know about "Cloud Atlas" comes from the extended trailer, well, you're off to a decent start in understanding the complex threads that make up the multi-layered, uniquely patterned quilt of a story. Based on David Mitchell's critically lauded novel of the same name, the groundbreaking and challenging tale is uniquely told in that it revolves around six separate storylines that are all connected.
Because there are so many storylines and characters in the film, one might assume that it could take a decent chunk of time to fully explain the plot. But we decided it would be more fun (and efficient) to challenge the actors, who each play at least four different characters in the film, to summarize everything into one sentence, which they did with varying degrees of succinctness and success.
"That's like the hardest question I've had all day!" said Jim Sturgess. "The plot of the entire film of "Cloud Atlas" in one sentence? Six stories that appear to be individually based grow in momentum to form one giant idea. How's that?"
Pretty good, although his co-star Ben Whishaw wins the award for shortest descriptive sentence in using the film's tagline as a crutch.
"Everything is connected," Whishaw said with a smile. "It says so on the poster."
"Oh, there you go. That's a full sentence," agreed James D'Aarcy . "If the poster says it, the poster would know."
Meanwhile Tom Hanks had several ideas for one-sentence summaries.
"It is one story about six people who through their choices between cruelty and kindness affect the world for generations to come," he said before adding another tagline. "How about, it's a cranial plate shift of a film. How about that?"
Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon added a few more details into the mix to explain the film's title and its sweeping, metaphysical message.
"Why is it called 'Cloud Atlas?' " Weaving said. "The clouds being like souls and the breadth of humanity, all of the souls that are constantly shifting and changing through time," he explained. "Clouds shift their color and size and shape and come back."
"And the idea that our lives are not our own and every act out kindness out crime births your future," added Sarandon. "I think it's partially that because it's in the trailer," she said with a laugh.