You can tell that 2012 is going to be a strange sort of year when the boldest, riskiest film set for release stars a brace of A-listers, including the traditionally safe-playing likes of Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant and Halle Berry, and is directed by the pair behind one of the biggest franchises of the last couple of decades. But nothing due in the next twelve months seems quite as bonkers, as potentially brilliant and/or disastrous as "Cloud Atlas," the long-awaited adaptation of David Mitchell's brilliant, acclaimed novel, from the Wachowskis ("The Matrix") and Tom Tykwer ("Perfume," "Run Lola Run").
The book spans thousands of years, from an 18th century Pacific expedition to a post-apocalyptic savage land, taking in a 1970s thriller, a 1930s romance and a comedy of manners in the present day along the way, the script runs close to 250 pages, and the cast, which also includes Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D'Arcy and Doona Bae, will play multiple roles, swapping genders and even races. So yeah, not your average blockbuster.
Just in time for Christmas, the film has wrapped, and Empire has the first image from the production, one released to celebrate the occasion. It's not a still, as such, but instead sees Tykwer and the publicity-shy Wachowskis posing, along with author Mitchell and the film's producers, among a selection of props from the film and, while we assume the movie won't be including all these at the same time, it gives you a glimpse of how expansive the scope of the film is. A grand piano and statues from Chatham Island sitting alongside some kind of futuristic hover-bike from 'Neo-Seoul' and some natty pop-art chairs with the logo for Papa Song's can all be glimpsed.
We love the book, and we're still stunned at the ambition of the project, so can only imagine what this all looks like to someone unfamiliar with Mitchell's work. We're either looking at a "Southland Tales"-style fiasco, or something like we've never seen before, a genius return to form for filmmakers who've been off their game for a while. Or possibly both. We'll find out when "Cloud Atlas" hits theaters on October 26, 2012.