Sometimes: “Just An Image Says It All™”


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Someone YOU Should Know: Artist Stephen Wiltshire….The Human Camera.


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Stephen Wiltshire MBE – Biography

 

Stephen Wiltshire is an artist who draws and paints detailed cityscapes. He has a particular talent for drawing lifelike, accurate representations of cities, sometimes after having only observed them briefly. He was awarded an MBE for services to the art world in 2006. He studied Fine Art at City & Guilds Art College. His work is popular all over the world, and is held in a number of important collections.

 

Stephen was born in London, United Kingdom to West Indian parents on 24th April, 1974. As a child he was mute, and did not relate to other people. Aged three, he was diagnosed as autistic. He had no language and lived entirely in his own world.

 

At the age of five, Stephen was sent to Queensmill School in London, where it was noticed that the only pastime he enjoyed was drawing. It soon became apparent he communicated with the world through the language of drawing; first animals, then London buses, and finally buildings. These drawings show a masterful perspective, a whimsical line, and reveal a natural innate artistry.

 

 

Early Years

Stephen Wiltshire was born on April 24, 1974 in London, England to parents of West Indian heritage. His father, Colvin was a native of Barbados, and his mother, Geneva, is a native of St. Lucia. As a child Stephen experienced delays in his development. When Stephen was about three years old, he was diagnosed as autistic. When Stephen was about five, he was enrolled at Queensmill School in West London where the teaching staff first noticed his interest in drawing.

 

First Words

The instructors at Queensmill School encouraged him to speak by temporarily taking away his art supplies so that he would be forced to ask for them. Stephen responded by making sounds and eventually uttered his first word – “paper.” He learned to speak fully at the age of nine. His early illustrations depicted animals and cars; he is still extremely interested in american cars and is said to have an encyclopedic knowledge of them. When he was about seven, Stephen became fascinated with sketching landmark London buildings. After being shown a book of photos depicting the devastation wrought by earthquakes, he began to create detailed architectural drawings of imaginary

 

 

Career Start

One of Stephen’s teachers took a particular interest in him, who later accompanied his young student on drawing excursions and entered his work in children’s art competitions, many of which garnered Stephen awards. The local press became increasingly suspicious as to how a young child could produce such masterful drawings. The media interest soon turned nationwide and the 7 year old Stephen Wiltshire made his first steps to launch his lifelong career. The same year he sold his first work and by the time he turned 8, he received his first commission from late Prime Minister Edward Heath to create a drawing of Salisbury Cathedral.
At about age 10 Stephen embarked on an ambitious project called “London Alphabet,” a group of pictures depicting landmark structures in London, listed in alphabetical sequence – from Albert Hall, a famed performance venue, to the London Zoo.

 

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Drawings

In February 1987 Stephen appeared in The Foolish Wise Ones. (The show also featured savants with musical and mathematical talents.) During his segment Hugh Casson, a former president of London’s Royal Academy of Arts, referred to him as “possibly the best child artist in Britain.”
Casson introduced Stephen to Margaret Hewson, a literary agent who helped Stephen field incoming book deals and soon became a trusted mentor. She helped Stephen publish his first book, Drawings (1987), a volume of his early sketches that featured a preface by Casson. Hewson, known for her careful stewardship of her clients’ financial interests, made sure a trust was established in Stephen’s name so that his fees and royalties were used wisely. (Hewson’s obituary, published in the London Daily Telegraph [February 9, 2002], lauded her “tireless promotion of his interests” and stated that despite having several other high-profile clients, she “was perhaps best known for championing… Stephen Wiltshire.”)

 

 

Cities

Hewson arranged Stephen’s first trip abroad, to New York City, where he sketched such legendary skyscrapers as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, as part of a feature being prepared by the London-based International Television News. (He is quoted in the London Times article as saying, “I’m going to live in New York [some day]. I’ve designed my penthouse on Park Avenue.”) While in New York Stephen met Oliver Sacks.
Sacks was fascinated by the young artist, and the two struck up a long friendship; Sacks would ultimately write extensively about Stephen. The resulting illustrations from his visit – along with sketches of sites in the London Docklands, Paris, and Edinburgh – formed the basis for his second book, Cities (1989), which also included some drawings of purely imaginary metropolises.

 

 

College Years

With Hewson’s help, Stephen enrolled in a three-year degree program (followed by a one-year postgraduate course) at the prestigious City and Guilds of London Art School, where he studied drawing and painting. He often commuted by himself on the London underground system. Stephen Wiltshire later successfully postgraduated in Painting and Drawing as well as Printmaking at his degree show in 1998.

 

 

Floating Cities

At about this time Stephen embarked on a drawing tour of Venice, Amsterdam, Leningrad, and Moscow, attracting crowds wherever he stopped to draw. He was accompanied part of the time by Sacks, who was conducting research for a new book of case histories. (The resulting volume, An Anthropologist on Mars, published in 1995, brought Stephen Wiltshire to the attention of an even wider audience.) His third book, Floating Cities (1991), contains the elaborate drawings he made on the tour, along with a foreword by Sacks, who wrote, “Floating Cities represents sixteen-year-old Stephen’s artistic response to a ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. The architectural refinement of a bygone Venetian Republic is juxtaposed to the solid merchant spirit of the Northern Renaissance as seen in Amsterdam. The barbaric vitality and energy of Moscow is set against that epitome of elegance, Leningrad – so often called ‘the Venice of the North.’ These drawings testify to an assured draughtsmanship and an ability to convey complex perspective with consummate ease. But more importantly, they reveal his mysterious creative ability to capture the sensibility of a building and that which determines its character and its voice. It is this genius which sets him apart and confers upon him the status of artist. For a child who was once locked within the prison house of his own private world, unable to speak, incapable of responding to others, this thrilling development of language, laughter and art is a miracle.”

 

 

Bestseller

In a review of Floating Cities for the San Francisco Chronicle (February 16, 1992), Kenneth Baker observed: “The accuracy of proportion and perspective in Stephen Wiltshire’s ink drawings – not to mention their detail – is amazing. For all their busyness, Stephen Wiltshire’s drawings are not snarled with obsessive rhythms. He obviously takes pleasure in what he can see and record, and his technique, though consistent, is admirably adapted to specific subjects… Whatever barriers to conventional life Wiltshire’s condition [has] put in his path, his eye and hand are enviably open channels.” David Gritten wrote for the Los Angeles Times (February 5, 1992), “[The book] illustrates Stephen Wiltshire’s ability to capture not only a building’s detail; he has an innate sense of perspective and also can convey the mood a building evokes. Thus his Kremlin Palace in Moscow looks forbidding and imposing; his St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square with its multicolored cluster of onion domes, seems to spring from a fantasy.” Floating Cities reached the top spot on the (London) Sunday Times nonfiction bestseller list.

 

 

American Dream

In 1992 Stephen accepted the invitation of a Tokyo-based television company to tour Japan and make drawings of various landmark structures, including the Tokyo metropolitan government building, in Shinjuku, and the Ginza shopping district. He then traveled to America once again, a trip that resulted in the book American Dream (1993), which featured cityscapes of Chicago, San Francisco, and New York, as well as the desert landscape of Arizona. Mary Ambrose wrote for the Montreal Gazette (July 31, 1993), “His paintings of the Arizona desert [establish] him as more than a one-trick pony, and although the coloring is a bit rough, his strong natural sense of composition keeps it together.” Stephen also included depictions of friends and acquaintances, and some observers took the presence of human figures in his work as a sign that he was developing socially.

Musical Talent

While his teachers had long known that Stephen Wiltshire liked to sing, the extent of his musical talent was not immediately apparent. Hewson told Anne Barrowclough for the London Daily Mail (September 14, 1993) that she discovered the artist’s additional skill while on the trip to Russia: “When we were in Moscow we would throw our own private concerts, usually opera, in our hotel room. One evening Stephen stood on a chair and sang Carmen from memory. He had picked it up from the television and remembered it almost perfectly.” He soon began studying with the music teacher Evelyn Preston, who identified Stephen as having perfect pitch – the rare ability to identify the pitch of an isolated musical note.
Additionally, while people with autism often do not understand or recognize human emotions, Stephen seemed able to convey the story of the music he was hearing and interpret its sentiments – an ability that fascinated psychologists. The medical community also found Stephen’s case interesting because savants rarely exhibit simultaneous skills in more than one field of learning. Linda Pring, a cognitive neuropsychologist at Goldsmith’s College, in London, spent a summer evaluating Stephen in an effort to discover a relationship between his dual talents. Pring told Nigel Hawkes for the London Times (September 13, 1993), “None of our other savants has more than one talent. In the whole of the scientific literature I have found only one previous example.”

Exhibition Record

Meanwhile, Stephen’s artwork was being exhibited frequently in venues all over the world.
In 2001 he appeared in another BBC documentary, Fragments of Genius, for which he was filmed flying over London aboard a helicopter and subsequently completing a detailed and perfectly scaled aerial illustration of a four-square-mile area within three hours; his drawing included 12 historic landmarks and 200 other structures.
In late 2003 the Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham, England, held the first major retrospective of Wiltshire’s works, spanning a period of 20 years; more than 40,000 visitors attended the exhibit, shattering the gallery’s attendance records. view current exhibitions

Panoramas

Stephen took on his largest project to date in May 2005, when he returned to Tokyo to make a panoramic drawing – the largest of his career – of the city. Two months later he drew a similarly detailed picture of Rome, including the Vatican and St. Peter’s Cathedral, entirely from memory.
In December, after a 20-minute helicopter ride, Stephen spent a week creating a 10-meter-long drawing of Hong Kong‘s Victoria Harbour and the surrounding urban scene. (He dedicated the work as a Christmas present to the city’s residents.) Since then he added Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem and London to his collection. The last drawing in the series was of his spiritual home, New York. Further trips followed to Syndey and Shanghai in 2010.

Cityscapes & People

Contrary to the popular misconception that Stephen is only interested in capturing architecture and classic american cars, he often draws portraits of celebrities and close friends in his private sketchbook. Stephen started creating caricatures of his teachers at primary school, and has since then produced many caricature ‘snap shots’ documenting amusing incidents encountered on his trips abroad as well.
Stephen Wiltshire’s passion for buildings, citiscapes and skylines continuously inspires him to revisit his favourite cities as well as discover new destinations while travelling the world. In a recent interview in New York he revealed that the most intriguing qualities of an exciting city must have ‘chaos and order at the same time, the avenues and squares, skyscrapers as well as traffic jams, the chaotic rush hour and people’.

 

 

MBE & London Gallery

In January 2006 it was announced that Stephen was being named by Queen Elizabeth II as a Member of the Order of the British Empire, in recognition of his services to the art world. “It’s an absolute honour,” his sister, Annette, told Geoffrey Wansell for the London Daily Mail (January 3, 2006). “It brought tears to my mum’s eyes and to mine, because we’ve all worked so hard for Stephen.”
Later that year, with the encouragement of Annette and her husband, Zoltan, Stephen Wiltshire founded his own permanent art gallery in London’s Royal Opera Arcade, London’s oldest shopping arcade.
In 2011, Stephen received an Honorary Life Fellowship from the Society of Architectural Illustrators, presented by artist Ben Johnson.
The gallery recently celebrated its 5th year of opening and the search for Stephen’s second premises in New York continues today.

 

Many observers have noted that Stephen has an engaging personality and a strong sense of humor. He sometimes performs impromptu, but wickedly accurate imitations of such singers as Robbie Williams. He currently resides in Maida Vale, West London with his mother. He reportedly admits to a preference for blondes, most notably the actress Jennie Garth from the television series Beverly Hills 90210.

 

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Stephen Wiltshire: The Human Camera

 

Uploaded on May 5, 2006

Stephen Wiltshire has been called the “Human Camera.” In this short excerpt from the film Beautiful Minds: A Voyage into the Brain, Wiltshire takes a helicopter journey over Rome and then draws a panoramic view of what he saw, entirely from memory.

 

 

 

The Human Camera – Documentary

 

Published on Dec 20, 2013

Stephen Wiltshire is a 33-year-old autistic man with an extraordinary talent. He is one of less than 100 people in the world who is recognised as an autistic savant. Whereas some savants excel in mathematics or music, Stephen is an accomplished artist, and is capable of producing highly accurate drawings of buildings and cities after seeing them just once.

 

Although Stephen is today a quiet and confident young man, he endured a difficult childhood as family and teachers struggled to cope with his autism – a condition that was, at the time, very poorly understood and rarely diagnosed.

 

Cityscapes and buildings quickly became Stephen’s artistic focus, possibly because they represent the kind of stability, solidity and repetition that autistic people often crave. In a short space of time, Stephen became internationally renowned for his strikingly detailed and technically accurate drawings, and since his teenage years he has travelled the world sketching famous buildings and cities.

 

Now Stephen is about to face one of his greatest challenges yet. He has five days to draw a four-metre-long panorama of London based on a 15-minute helicopter ride above the capital. Can he accurately reproduce the skyline of his home city solely from memory?

 

 

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The Art Game Is Back!!! Art Game – The Haunted House


 

By Jueseppi B.

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Art Game – The Haunted House

OCTOBER 16, 2013
Hello folks!  Once again Art Game is here to tickle your brain and talent in arts….
 A yearly celebration of All Hallows’ Eve or commonly known as Halloween is fast apporaching, so Chlly found an image for us to play and here it is “The Haunted House”.
Image contributed
by

Chlly

 

 

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ust wait a while… this white lady smiles! hehehe

Just wait a while… this white lady smiles! hehehe

 

 

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Happy Halloween From Jueseppi B.

Happy Halloween From Jueseppi B.

 

 

Come on guys…  Join us in our fun!

*By adding the Art Game Logo below to your blog space, you could easily check the updates of our image. (Instructions on how to do this is written below).

 

 

Copy this magic link to your TEXT WIDGET : <img src=”http://allaboutlemon.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/art-game-logo-allaboutlemon1.gif” border=”0″ />
Note: If you need more info click Art Game Week 1  and  Art Game Week 10 for a brief demo…OK. Are you with me?
I would highly appreciate if you all are. I love you guys! I thank God that I met you all here in this blogosphere.

 

Enjoy and keep on blogging :)

Let’s go and have fun! Good Luck!

Art game continues…. to Tuesday 12pm (GMT) and then a new image will be post on Wednesday and so on.

This is fun… Come and join us!

 

  • Thanks to all my Art Game Players and to the image contributor,

  • Wyrdpooka

     For AG-W65-Whimsical Owl. You can check it out here… The image is very beautiful to be ruined by our Art Game Lovers so nobody dared to add any images on it… hehehehe

 

 

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I’m Feeling George Duke Tonight. R.I.P. Mr. Duke.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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What can I tell you about George Duke that you don’t already know? He’s an icon in the music industry…known as a keyboard pioneer, composer, singer and producer in both jazz and popular mainstream musical genres. Enjoy!!

 

George Duke – Guess You’re Not The One / Smooth Jazz.wmv

 

 

 

 

George Duke ft Eric Benet Superwoman

 

 

 

 

George Duke “A Melody”

 

 

 

 

SWEET BABY – Stanley ClarkeGeorge Duke

 

 

 

 

George Duke – Right On Time

 

 

 

 

George Duke – I Tried To Tell You

 

 

 

 

TSOP ’87 – (Soul Train Theme No. 10: 1987–1989) – George Duke –For Discos Only

 

 

 

 

George Duke – DreamWeaver

 

 

 

George Duke

George Duke was an American musician, known as a keyboard pioneer, composer, singer and producer in both jazz and popular mainstream musical genres.

 

Born: January 12, 1946, San Rafael, CA

 

Died: August 5, 2013, Los Angeles, CA

 

 

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In The Balcony Movie Review: Cloud Atlas


By Jueseppi B.

 

 

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Trailer for Cloud Atlas

 

Directors Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski team up to helm this adaptation of David Mitchell’s popular novel Cloud Atlas. The trio have put together an all-star cast, including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and Hugh Grant, to play various characters over the course of several different historical time periods. The various narrative threads weave in and out of each other, painting a portrait of mankind’s quest for tolerance and peace throughout the ages.

 

 

 

 

I’m not so much a fan of this genre of film. Cloud Atlas has changed my mind on that issue.

 

A friend who is deeply a fan of this genre praised this film as if it was the “second coming.” She was right.

 

Critics said it was a flop, and said it was not very good. I found it hard to follow, and a film you will most definitely need to watch more than once. You can’t walk away and come back expecting to pick up the story, or understand what you missed by filling in the blanks.

 

This film does not work that way. I fully understand why the critics didn’t get this film. It’s a film, and not a movie.

 

 

Cloud Atlas Extended Trailer #1 (2012) – Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Wachowski Movie HD

 

Published on Jul 27, 2012

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Instant Trailer Review of Cloud Atlas:http://youtu.be/PnYHYPjOLLE

Cloud Atlas Extended Trailer #1 (2012) – Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Wachowski Movie HD

 

 

 

 

 

Rob Gauthier 3 days ago

I do not watch movies anymore. Yesterday my wife was watching this. Something in it grabbed my interest, An irresistible pull. At the end I cried, tears of joy and resonance. I could not believe that I had found a movie that encompases all of the great truths of incarnations, love, soul groups, soulmates, self slavery, and finally releasing all that is negative. Its being played all out in such a great picture in front of me. I am no movie critic, but I will tell you, watch this. See the truth.

 

 

Cloud Atlas is a 2012 German drama and science fiction film written, produced and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. Adapted from the 2004 novel by David Mitchell, the film features multiple plot lines set across six different eras. The official synopsis for Cloud Atlas describes the film as: “An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.”

 

During four years of development, the project met difficulties securing financial support; it was eventually produced with a $102 million budget provided by independent sources, making Cloud Atlas one of the most expensive independent films of all time. Production began in September 2011 at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany.

 

The film premiered on 9 September 2012 at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival and was released on 26 October 2012 in conventional and IMAX cinemas.

 

Cloud Atlas polarized critics, and has subsequently been included on various Best Film and Worst Film lists. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for Tykwer (who co-scored the film), Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil.

 

 

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas Poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Lana Wachowski
  • Tom Tykwer
  • Andy Wachowski
Based on Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell
Starring
Music by
Cinematography
Editing by Alexander Berner
Studio
  • Cloud Atlas Production
  • X-Filme Creative Pool
  • Anarchos Production
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s)
  • September 8, 2012
  •  (TIFF)
  • October 26, 2012
  • (North America)
  • January 9, 2013
  • (South Korea)
  • February 22, 2013
  • (United Kingdom)
  • March 13, 2013
  • (France)
Running time 172 minutes
Country Germany
Language English
Budget $102 million
Box office $130,482,868

Plot

 

The film consists of six interrelated and interwoven stories spanning different time periods. The film is structured, according to novelist David Mitchell, “as a sort of pointillist mosaic.”

 

 

South Pacific Ocean, 1849

Adam Ewing, an American lawyer from San Francisco, has come to the Chatham Islands to conclude a business arrangement with Reverend Gilles Horrox for his father-in-law, Haskell Moore. He witnesses the whipping of a Moriori slave, Autua, who stows away on Ewing’s ship, and convinces Ewing to advocate for him to join the crew as a freeman. Meanwhile, Dr. Henry Goose slowly poisons Ewing, claiming it to be the cure for a parasitic worm, aiming to steal Ewing’s valuables. When Goose attempts to administer the fatal dose, Autua saves Ewing. Returning to the United States, Ewing and his wife Tilda denounce her father’s complicity in slavery and leave San Francisco to join the Slavery Abolishment Movement.

 

 

Cambridge, England and EdinburghScotland, 1936

Robert Frobisher, a bisexual English musician, finds work as an amanuensis to composer Vyvyan Ayrs, allowing Frobisher the time and inspiration to compose his own masterpiece, “The Cloud AtlasSextet.” But Ayrs wishes to take credit for Frobisher’s work, and threatens to expose his scandalous background if he resists. Frobisher, who has read a partial copy of Ewing’s journal in the meanwhile, shoots Ayrs and flees to a hotel, where he finishes “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” but then commits suicide just before the arrival of his lover Rufus Sixsmith at the scene.

 

 

San FranciscoCalifornia, 1973

Journalist Luisa Rey meets an older Sixsmith, now a nuclear physicist. Sixsmith tips off Rey to a conspiracy regarding the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by Lloyd Hooks, but is assassinated by Hooks’ hitman Bill Smoke before he can give her a report that proves it. Rey finds and reads Frobisher’s letters to Sixsmith. Isaac Sachs, another scientist at the power plant, passes her a copy of Sixsmith’s report. However, Smoke assassinates Sachs and also runs Rey’s car off a bridge. With help from the plant’s head of security, Joe Napier, she evades another attempt against her life which results in Smoke’s death, and exposes the plot to use a nuclear accident for the benefit of oil companies.

 

 

United Kingdom, 2012

Timothy Cavendish, a 65-year-old publisher, has a windfall when Dermot Hoggins, a gangster author whose book he has published, murders a critic and is sent to jail. When Hoggins’ associates threaten Cavendish’s life to get his share of the profits, Cavendish asks for help from his brother Denholme. Denholme tricks him into hiding in a nursing home, where he is held against his will, but Cavendish escapes. Cavendish receives a manuscript of a novel based on Rey’s life and writes a screenplay about his own story in the home.

 

 

Neo Seoul, (Korea), 2144

Sonmi-451, a genetically-engineered fabricant (clone) server at a restaurant, is interviewed before her execution. She recounts how she was released from her compliant life of servitude by Commander Hae-Joo Chang, a member of a rebel movement known as “Union”. While in hiding, she watches a film based on Cavendish’s adventure. The Union rebels reveal to her that fabricants like her are killed and “recycled” into food for future fabricants. She decides that the system of society based on slavery and exploitation of fabricants is intolerable, and is brought to Hawaii to make a public broadcast of her story and manifesto. Hae-Joo is killed in a firefight and Sonmi is captured. After telling her story and its intent, she is executed.

 

 

The Big Island (dated “106 winters after The Fall”, in the end credits and book cited as 2321)

Zachry lives with his sister and niece Catkin in a primitive society called “The Valley” after most of humanity has died during “The Fall“; the Valley tribesmen worship Sonmi as a goddess. Zachry is plagued by hallucinations of a figure called “Old Georgie” who manipulates him into giving in to his fear, leading to the murder of his brother-in-law and nephew by the cannibalistic Kona tribe. Zachry’s village is visited by Meronym, a member of the “Prescients”, a society holding on to remnants of technology from before the Fall. In exchange for saving Catkin from death, Zachry agrees to guide Meronym into the mountains in search of Cloud Atlas, a communications station where she is able to send a message to Earth’s colonies. At the station, Meronym reveals that Sonmi was a mortal and not a deity as the Valley tribes believe. After returning, Zachry discovers the slaughter of his tribe by the Kona. Zachry kills the Kona chief and rescues Catkin; Meronym saves them both from an assault by Kona tribesmen. Zachry and Catkin join Meronym and the Prescients as their boat leaves Big Island.

 

 

Epilogue

A seventh time period, several decades after the action on Big Island, is featured in the film’s prologue and epilogue: Zachry is revealed to have been telling these stories to his grandchildren on a colony of Earth on another planet, confirming that Meronym, who is present at the site, succeeded in sending the message to the colonies and was rescued along with him.

Cast

Cast

In addition, some minor members of the cast also appear in more than one segment, including Robert FyfeMartin Wuttke, Brody Nicholas Lee,Alistair Petrie, and Sylvestra Le Touzel.

 

 

Production

Development

The film is based on the 2004 novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Filmmaker Tom Tykwer revealed in January 2009 his intent to adapt the novel and said he was working on a screenplay with the Wachowskis, who optioned the novel. By June 2010, Tykwer had asked actors Natalie PortmanTom HanksHalle BerryJames McAvoy, and Ian McKellen to star in Cloud Atlas. By April 2011, the Wachowskis joined Tykwer in co-directing the film. In the following May, with Hanks and Berry confirmed in their roles, Hugo WeavingBen WhishawSusan Sarandon, and Jim Broadbent also joined the cast. Actor Hugh Grant joined the cast days before the start of filming.

 

Cloud Atlas was financed by the German production companies A Company, ARD Degeto Film and X Filme. In May 2011 Variety reported that the film had a production budget of $140 million. The filmmakers also secured approximately $20 million from the German government, including €10 million($13.5 million) from the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), €100.000 ($130.000) development funding and €1.5 million ($2.15 million) from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, a German funder, as part of their plans to film at Studio Babelsberg later in 2011. The project also received €1 million ($1.5 million) financial support from Filmstiftung NRW, €750.000 ($1 million) from Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and € 30 million ($40 million) from UE-Fonds (the biggest proportion of the budget), and €300.000 ($400.000) from FFF Bayern, another German organization. The Wachowskis contributed approximately $1 million to the project out of their own finances. The budget was updated to$100 million.

 

The directors stated that due to lack of finance, the film was almost abandoned several times. However they specified how the crew was enthusiastic and determined: “They flew—even though their agents called them and said, ‘They don’t have the money, the money’s not closed'”. They specifically praised Tom Hanks‘ enthusiasm: “Warner Bros. calls and, through our agent, says they’ve looked at the math and decided that they don’t like this deal. They’re pulling all of the money away, rescinding the offer. I was shaking. I heard, ‘Are you saying the movie is dead?’ They were like, ‘Yes, the movie is dead.’… At the end of the meeting, Tom says, ‘Let’s do it. I’m in. When do we start?’… Tom said this unabashed, enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ which put our heart back together.

 

We walked away thinking, this movie is dead but somehow, it’s alive and we’re going to make it.” “Every single time, Tom Hanks was the first who said, ‘I’m getting on the plane.’ And then once he said he was getting on the plane, basically everyone said, ‘Well, Tom’s on the plane, we’re on the plane.’ And so everyone flew [to Berlin to begin the film]. It was like this giant leap of faith. From all over the globe.”

 

 

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Principal photography

Some German journalists have called Cloud Atlas “the first attempt at a German blockbuster” (although the 1984 fantasy The Never Ending Story (film) was written about in similar terms before its release). Tykwer and the Wachowskis filmed parallel to each other using separate camera crews. The Wachowskis directed the 19th-century story and the two set in the future, while Tykwer directed the stories set in the 1930’s, the 1970’s, and 2012. Warner Bros. Pictures representatives have argued they are happy with the film’s 164-minute running time, after previously stating that it should not exceed 150 minutes.

 

Filming began at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany, on 16 September 2011. Other locations include Düsseldorf, in and near Edinburgh and GlasgowScotland (including the ‘San Francisco street’ scenes), and the Mediterranean island of MajorcaSpain. The scenes shot on Majorca were filmed in the World Heritage site of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. Scenes were shot at Sa Calobra and nearFormentor, amongst others. Port de Sóller provides the setting for the scene when the boat is mooring. Scenes filmed in Scotland also feature the recently built Clackmannanshire Bridge near Alloa, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

 

 

 

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Music

The original orchestral soundtrack was composed by director Tom Tykwer and his longtime collaborators, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek. The trio have worked together for years as Pale 3, having composed music for several films directed by Tykwer, most notably Run Lola RunThe Princess and the WarriorPerfume: The Story of a Murderer, and The International, and contributed music to the Wachowskis’ The Matrix Revolutions. Work on the score for Cloud Atlas began months before shooting commenced on the film. The orchestra was recorded in Leipzig, Germany with the MDR Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Leipzig Radio Chorus.

 

 

The soundtrack has received praise from critics. Film Music Magazine critic Daniel Schweiger described the soundtrack as “a singular piece of multi-themed astonishment … Yet instead of defining one sound for every era, Klimek, Heil and Tykwer seamlessly merge their motifs across the ages to give Cloud Atlas its rhythms, blending orchestra, pulsating electronics, choruses and a soaring salute to John Adams in an astonishing, captivating score that eventually becomes all things for all personages …” Erin Willard of ScifiMafia described the soundtrack as “cinematic, symphonic, and simply, utterly, exquisitely beautiful … in the wrong hands the opening theme, which is picked up periodically throughout the entire soundtrack, could easily have become cloying or twee or sappy, but happily this hazard was avoided entirely.”

 

 

Jon Broxton of Movie Music UK wrote, “Scores like Cloud Atlas, which have an important and identifiable structure that relates directly to concepts in the film, intelligent and sophisticated application of thematic elements, and no small amount of beauty, harmony and excitement in the music itself, reaffirm your faith in what film music can be when it’s done right.”  Daniel Schweiger selected the score as one of the best soundtracks of 2012, writing that “Cloud Atlas is an immense sum total of not only the human experience, but of mankind’s capacity for musical self-realization itself, all as embodied in a theme for the ages.” The film’s soundtrack was nominated for a 2013 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, and for several awards by the International Film Music Critics Association, including Score of the Year.

 

 

The film contains approximately two hours of original music. WaterTower Music released the soundtrack album via digital download on 23 October 2012 and the physical CD on 6 November 2012.

 

 

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Release

The film premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, whereupon it received a 10-minute standing ovation.

 

 

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Cloud Atlas was released on 26 October 2012 in the United States. Warner Bros. distributed the film in the United States and Canada, and Focus Features International handled sales and distribution for other territories. The movie was released in cinemas in China on 31 January 2013 with 39 minutes of cuts, including removal of nudity, a sexual scene, and numerous conversations.

 

 

Marketing

A six-minute trailer for Cloud Atlas, accompanied by a short introduction by the three directors describing the ideas behind the creation of the film, was released on 26 July 2012. A shorter official trailer was released on 7 September 2012. The six-minute trailer includes three pieces of music. The opening piano music is the main theme of the soundtrack (Prelude: The Atlas March/The Cloud Atlas Sextet) by composing trio Tom TykwerJohnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil, followed by an instrumental version of the song “Sonera” from Thomas J. Bergersen‘s album Illusions. The song in the last part is “Outro” from M83‘s album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

Home media

The film was released on 14 May 2013, on home media (Blu-rayDVD and UV Digital Copy).

 

 

Reception

Critical response

The film has had polarized reaction from critics, who debated its length and editing of the interwoven stories, but praised other aspects of the film such as its cinematography, music, visual style, special effects and ensemble cast.

 

The film premiered on 9 September 2012, at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival, where it received a 10 minute standing ovation. Review aggregator Metacritic collected the “top 10 films of 2012″ lists from various critics and Cloud Atlas was placed at number 25 overall.

 

Critical response to the film has been mixed to positive. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 68% of critics have given Cloud Atlas a “Fresh” rating based on 240 reviews, with an average of 6.6/10. The site’s consensus from the collected reviews was “Its sprawling, ambitious blend of thought-provoking narrative and eye-catching visuals will prove too unwieldy for some, but the sheer size and scope of Cloud Atlas are all but impossible to ignore.” The film currently holds a Metacritic score of 55 out of 100, based on 43 reviews, indicating ‘mixed to average’ reviews.

 

Film critic Roger Ebert praised the film for being “one of the most ambitious films ever made”, awarding the film four out of four stars. He wrote “Even as I was watching Cloud Atlas the first time, I knew I would need to see it again. Now that I’ve seen it the second time, I know I’d like to see it a third time … I think you will want to see this daring and visionary film … I was never, ever bored by Cloud Atlas. On my second viewing, I gave up any attempt to work out the logical connections between the segments, stories and characters.” He later listed the film among his best of the year.

 

Variety described it as “an intense three-hour mental workout rewarded with a big emotional payoff. … One’s attention must be engaged at all times as the mosaic triggers an infinite range of potentially profound personal responses.” James Rocchi of MSN Movies stated “It is so full of passion and heart and empathy that it feels completely unlike any other modern film in its range either measured through scope of budget or sweep of action.” The Daily Beast called Cloud Atlas “one of the year’s most important movies”. Michael Cieply of The New York Times commented on the film “You will have to decide for yourself whether it works. It’s that kind of picture. … Is this the stuff of Oscars? Who knows? Is it a force to be reckoned with in the coming months? Absolutely.”

 

Slant Magazine‘s Calum Marsh called Cloud Atlas a “unique and totally unparalleled disaster” and commented “[its] badness is fundamental, an essential aspect of the concept and its execution that I suspect is impossible to remedy or rectify”. The Guardian stated “At 163 minutes, Cloud Atlas carries all the marks of a giant folly, and those unfamiliar with the book will be baffled” and awarded the film 2 out of 5 stars. Nick Pickerton, who reviewed the film for The Village Voice said “There is a great deal of humbug about art and love in Cloud Atlas, but it is decidedly unlovable, and if you want to learn something about feeling, you’re at the wrong movie.” English critic Mark Kermode called it “an extremely honourable failure, but a failure.”  Village Voice and Time Magazine both named Cloud Atlas the worst film of 2012.

Reaction from the directors

On 25 October (after the premiere at Toronto), Andy Wachowski stated “(a)s soon as (critics) encounter a piece of art they don’t fully understand the first time going through it, they think it’s the fault of the movie or the work of art. They think, ‘It’s a mess … This doesn’t make any sense.’ And they reject it, just out of an almost knee-jerk response to some ambiguity or some gulf between what they expect they should be able to understand, and what they understand.”

 

In the same interview, Lana Wachowski stated “(p)eople will try to will Cloud Atlas to be rejected. They will call it messy, or complicated, or undecided whether it’s trying to say something New Agey-profound or not. And we’re wrestling with the same things that Dickens and Hugo and David Mitchell and Herman Melville were wrestling with. We’re wrestling with those same ideas, and we’re just trying to do it in a more exciting context than conventionally you are allowed to. … We don’t want to say, ‘We are making this to mean this.’ What we find is that the most interesting art is open to a spectrum of interpretation.”

 

 

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This just happens to be an art film cloaked in science fiction disguised as an action thriller with a twist….it’s also a love story with a social conscience.

 

See it….more than once.

 

 

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