“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” – David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas. What a majestic film. No, “film” isn’t the right word. Cloud Atlas is an experience that is so rich, beautiful, philosophical, and multifaceted that it can only be described as “epic”.
It begins with a simple idea: What if everything was connected? Well, it is said that history repeats itself, and indeed, there have been circumstances where history has done so. From the rises and falls of civilizations and empires to religious conflict, in a way, similar events occur periodically. Of course, not all historical recurrences are large-scale events; some recurrences can be little more than coincidences. For instance, the many similarities between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy is a commonly cited example of this.
But is it a coincidence? Cloud Atlas doesn’t solely imply historical connections, but also an inherent familiarity that is inexplicable. Cloud Atlas explores the idea that people are destined to cross paths endlessly. Though they eventually die, they are reborn and somehow cross paths once more as if destiny is an endless loop. Events play out differently, but sometimes things happen that seem too familiar for some unknown reason. Sometimes you meet someone and you feel like you have known that person for a long time. I’ve had that feeling before, and you probably have too. Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence. Perhaps it was meant to be.
There are those who fully accept the idea that everything is predetermined and that we are just going through the motions, but I find this to be somewhat of a depressing outlook on life. I personally believe the choices that we make ourselves are also a determinant of our future. For instance, I could choose to save up my money for a better place to live, or I could go to Vegas and gamble it all away. However, one of these outcomes is far more beneficial in the long run than the other. My future would be affected heavily depending on which choice I made. Think ahead, that’s the moral message du jour.
Despite all of this, we can’t see or predict the future. It’s one of those things that we all want to be able to do because it would be both awesome and helpful at the same time. It is also something that is theoretically impossible; I’m sure someone once said “That which we cannot obtain is what we most desire.” That said, people often don’t ask the most important question in this situation: Why do you want to see or predict the future? Personal gain would be the most common answer. But a part of me believes that not knowing what the future has in store makes life far more exciting and makes personal accomplishments feel far more worthwhile.
“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet, what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” – David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Seeing the future would probably be as problematic as traveling through time to the past. By going back in the past, theoretically one could alter the present and future. But is history really so easily altered? If the future is an ocean, then making small changes to the past would be analogous to throwing pebbles into the ocean. From that standpoint, the future is relatively fixed in place; it could be difficult to actually change the future.
But what if every stone thrown into that hypothetical ocean displaced a great amount of water? Is there only one fixed timeline that gets altered with every action? But every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Does this imply that with every action, there is a parallel universe that is created in which the opposite action occurs? I mentioned before that the choices we make in life can radically affect our future. But some choices have more than one alternate option, and with every second that goes by, one has the opportunity to make so many different choices. Perhaps there are an infinite number of choices, an infinite number of parallel universes.
Or, perhaps, everything is based on chance.
Geez, no wonder time travel movies always have plot holes.