‘Cloud Atlas': Tom Hanks And The Wachowskis Join Forces For An Appropriately Bizarre Sci-Fi Epic

We’ve known that an adaptation of David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” would be Tom Tykwer’s next project alongside the Wachowskis for quite some time now. Since initial word first emerged, all three have been attached to (and in Tykwer’s case, finished) various projects. Although it’s been a while since we’ve heard a peep about the Wachowskis’ project “Cobalt Neural 9” or their adaptation of Robin Hood, it looks like the long-gestating “Cloud Atlas” is about to get its groove on.

Deadline is reporting that the film will finally start shooting this fall, with Tom Hanks the first star to sign his name on the dotted line. (Other actors whose names have been tossed in the hat are Halle Berry and James McAvoy, but we all know how trustworthy casting rumors are, especially old ones!)

Although Deadline reports that the trio will be “co-directing,” it seems unlikely in this reporter’s opinion that all three will share duties. Any way it shakes out, this will be a difficult project to adapt and direct — and we’ll tell you why past the jump!

The puzzling and somewhat controversial novel “Cloud Atlas” follows the linked stories of five characters as well as a sort of coda from the future. The New York Times describes it as “a novel not quite like any that had come before it, and one that defeats tidy summary. ’Cloud Atlas’ consists of five false starts, a sequence of unfinished novellas, each set in a different place and time, each with a distinct form.” Mitchell’s name is often bandied about with other meta-fiction luminaries such a Thomas Pynchon, Haruki Murakami, and Italo Calvino.

Out of all the characters, it seems most likely that Hanks will play a 19th-century notary named Adam Ewing who is traveling over the Pacific Ocean; this part of the book consists of Ewing’s travel journal. (You can read an excerpt of “The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing” here.)

“Cloud Atlas” will be a dazzling and ambitious project for the trio. It will be interesting to see how the action-infused sleek sci-fi styles of the Wachowskis and Tykwer (whose work has spanned from the frenetic “Run Lola Run” to the strange period piece “Perfume”) follow the changes in milieu and tone that Mitchell’s book will call for. Will this end in a meta-muddle like Aronofsky’s “The Fountain”? How closely will the movie hew to the book? It looks like we’ll have those answers fairly soon.

Have you read “Cloud Atlas,” or do you plan to read it before the movie comes out? Tell us in the comments section and on Twitter!