If you'd asked us a couple of years ago which works of literature were all but unadaptable, Cloud Atlas, along with perhaps Paradise Lost, would have been pretty high on the list. Fast forward 24 months and one has just wrapped, while the other is on the verge of shooting with Alex Proyas at the helm. What conclusion can we draw from this? That we don't know ve... look, a unicorn!
What those two movies have in common, aside from labyrinthine plotting and epic scope, is directors with backgrounds in seriously ambitious science-fiction. Lana and Andy Wachowski, pictured here alongside co-director Tom Tykwer, are no strangers to the kind of futuristic dystopias found in David Mitchell's novel. Tykwer, meanwhile, cut his teeth in thrillers and period pieces, genres that handily complete Mitchell's matryoshka doll of a book. If anyone can pull this off, we're saying it's this trio.
(From back left) Executive producer Uwe Schott, novelist David Mitchell (seated), Executive producer Philip Lee. (From front left) Producer Stefan Arndt, director/writers Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Producer Grant Hill.
The photo is an unusual, but fun change to the usual Variety trade ads that greet wrap-day on a big Hollywood picture. With the cast - Tom Hanks, Jim Sturgess, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaver, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant among them - presumably down the pub, the directors were joined by novelist Mitchell (seated) and the movie's producers to farewell the Babelsberg set.
If you know the book, you'll also recognise props from the six interlinking tales. We've spotted the VW Beetle of crusading journo Luisa Rey (Berry), the '70s thriller that should inject serious voltage into the film's middle act (if you really know the book, you'll know that it's actually rust orange not drab green).
Also on display are a pair of Chatham Island totems, a piano belonging to the composer of the 'Letters from Zedelghem' chapters, some dystopian gadgetry from near-future Korea, and a cart that we're guessing gets used to carry post-apocalyptic veggies around Hawaii.
If none of this makes the slightest sense to you, get hold of the book as quickly as possible. It's awesome. Look out for more on the movie as we get it. It's scheduled for release late in 2012.
Picture credit: Jay Maidment (SMPSP), Copyright © Cloud Atlas Production GmbH)