[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Cloud_Atlas_Poster_477.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:295:Trust us--there are [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters far more characters]].]]

A film based on David Mitchell's ([[NamesTheSame no]], not ''[[Series/ThatMitchellAndWebbLook that]]'' DavidMitchell) [[Literature/CloudAtlas 2004 novel]], '''''Cloud Atlas''''' is a sweeping epic that connects wildly different genres and writing styles into a single narrative. The film consists of six nested stories, each set in a different place and era, moving forwards in time from the 19th century all the way to the future AfterTheEnd. Each story and style is a {{pastiche}} of the most recognizable examples of the genre, and lovingly combines old clichés with new twists. A comet-shaped birthmark appears in each story on the protagonist, and the characters reference names, places, and experiences from other stories. In order of introduction, the six stories are:

* ''The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing'' (1859): An American notary, returning by ship from the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, keeps a journal of his journey through the Pacific Ocean accompanied by a Moriori stowaway. Ewing has been infected with a parasitic worm, of which Dr. Henry Goose is trying to cure him. A partial copy of the edited and published journal is found and read by Robert Frobisher...
* ''Letters from Zedelghem'' (1931): Robert Frobisher is a tremendously snarky English musician and aspiring composer, formerly [[RichInDollarsPoorInSense Rich In Pounds, Poor In Sense]] and now penniless after a bad game. On the run, he charms his way into a job as an assistant to a retired composer, settling with his employer in Zedelghem, Belgium. He records his experiences in a series of letters, which he sends to his friend and lover Rufus Sixsmith. Much later in life, the letters are read by Luisa Rey...
* ''Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery'' (1973): Luisa Rey is a reporter for a fluffy media magazine in Northern California, when she crosses paths with the old Dr. Sixsmith. She starts investigating reports of ongoing corruption connected to the local nuclear power plant, and winds up with Sixsmith's collection of letters. Her story is presented as a mystery novel manuscript, submitted to Timothy Cavendish...
* ''The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish'' (2012): Cavendish is an old, glum British vanity press publisher who gets in trouble with a client and ends up trapped by his brother in a retirement home in a rather undignified KafkaKomedy. His experience forms the basis of a film, which is later seen by Sonmi~451...
* ''An Orison of Sonmi~451'' (2144): Sonmi is a fabricant, a genetically-engineered clone, employed at the Papa Song's diner chain. She lives in Neo Seoul in a dystopian near future. Fabricants have been created as slaves to a capitalist, totalitarian society -- and Sonmi had the misfortune of developing intelligence far beyond the limits of her genetic engineering. Her story is told in a final interview, during which she's allowed to tell an uncensored account of her entire life. The recording of this interview, called an orison, is viewed by Zachry...
* ''Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After'' (106 years [[AfterTheEnd after the Fall]]): Zachry, an elder of a tribe in post-apocalyptic Hawaii that regards Sonmi as their god, meets Meronym, a member of Earth's last advanced civilization. His story is set in a distant future, where most of humanity has died out. In his old age, he narrates his experiences around a camp-fire.

Instead of being completely sequential, the film continually leaps back and forth between stories.
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!!This film contains examples of the following tropes:

* AdaptationalAttractiveness: Averted with Isaac and Zachry (both played by Creator/TomHanks), who are significantly less attractive in the film than in the novel.
* AdaptationDyeJob: Sonmi-model fabricants are implied to have white hair in the novel; in the film they have black hair with a few streaks of bright color.
* AdaptationalHeroism:
** [[spoiler: The Union is actually a true rebellion in the film, in comparison to the book in which it is just a fake.]]
** Cavendish's more racist and misogynistic aspects of his personality aren't even brought in the film.
* AdaptationNameChange: Nea So Copros (which presumably refers to ''all'' of Korea) becomes Neo Seoul. While the book makes it clear that none of the names he goes by are real, Hae-Joo Im is named Hae-Joo Chang in the film, as his film version is a CompositeCharacter of Im and Chang.
* AfterTheEnd: Zachry's era, which they call "After the Fall".
* AgeLift: In the book, Zachry is a young man who lives with his mother and siblings. In the film, he's a middle-aged man living with his widowed sister and niece. The change was necessary for Tom Hanks to play the part.
* AlienNonInterferenceClause: Meronym in the final segment is from a more advanced Earth civilization, not an alien, but this still applies to her. [[spoiler: Zachry manages to convince her to use her medical equipment to save Zachry's sister. To avoid potential problems, they inject her secretly, so she just appears to have a miraculous recovery; subverting the trope.]]
* AlienSky: This trope appears at the end of the film to show that an aging Zachry is narrating his tale [[spoiler:from one of the off-world colonies long after being rescued]].
* AlwaysSaveTheGirl: Hae-Joo and Sonmi have this trope going on.
* AmbiguousDisorder: Frobisher suffers tremendously from bipolar disorder, but being from 1931, he has no idea that anything's wrong with him.
* AnAesop: Spelled out for us by Sonmi's revelation: "To be is to be perceived, and so to know thyself is only possible through the eyes of the other. The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds, that go on and impressionate themselves throughout all time. Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and Present. And by each crime and every kindness we birth our future."
* ArcWords: There are all kinds of repeated references across the six eras. Hydras, feeding ducks, a "crocodile" of people, eating soap, cannibalism, etc. Frobisher's "Cloud Atlas Sextet" follows the same pattern the novel does, and he associates each of the six movements of his piece with an instrument.
** "I will not be subjected to criminal abuse!"
** "The weak are meat the strong do eat."
** “Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present.”
* ArtisticLicenseGeography: Given that California was admitted to the Union as a free state, it's highly unlikely that a family who works in the slave trade would have put down roots there.
* AteHisGun: The first time we see Frobisher, he is employing this trope.
* {{Badass}}: Hae-Joo Im in the 2100s, bordering on OneManArmy levels. And Zachry when he has to fight Kona cannibals.
* BackAlleyDoctor: The shady character of Ovid, who removes Sonmi-451's collar to allow her to appear to be a pureblood.
* BarBrawl: At the end of the 2012 story.
* BattleaxeNurse: A scary one runs the nursing home where Cavendish is confined.
* BavarianFireDrill: Involving the BarBrawl above (also see ViolentGlaswegian below).
* BerserkButton: The Mexican woman [[spoiler:kills the assassin after he shoots her dog and calls her a wetback]].
* BigBad: Pretty much any character played by Hugo Weaving. He's a slave trader in 1849, a Nazi in 1936, a murderous hit man in 1973, an oppressive battleax nurse in 2012, a politician who signs Sonmi's death warrant in 2144, and in 2321, he's literally the devil.
* BirthmarkOfDestiny: Ewing, Frobisher, Rey, Cavendish, Sonmi, and Zachry all have the exact same birthmark, though the birthmark is placed in various dramatically appropriate locations for each character. This birthmark is one of the main manifestations of the {{reincarnation}} theme.
* BittersweetEnding: Each story ends ranges from [[DownerEnding tragic]] to [[EarnYourHappyEnding uplifting]], so in the end, the story as a whole is bittersweet. The very last chronological story involves [[spoiler:civilization fleeing Earth and moving off-world toward an unknown but hopeful future, with Meronym and Zachry HappilyMarried.]].
* {{Blackface}}: Inverted. Halle Berry plays a white woman, Jocasta Ayrs, in Frobisher's story.
* BloodyHilarious: The critic's death that kicks off Cavendish's story.
* ABloodyMess: [[spoiler:Frobisher]] does his best to avoid making a mess, but it leads to this trope regardless in the film, when [[spoiler: Sixsmith clings to his lifeless body]].
* BodyHorror: Ewing's parasite. [[spoiler:Subverted. He's actually being poisoned, though the results of that aren't pretty either.]]
* {{Bookends}}: The film starts and ends with a shot of the Milky Way in the night sky.
* BreatherEpisode: ''The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish'', while creepy in places, is funnier and more light-hearted than the other segments.
* BrickJoke: Cavendish trying to rally his fellow nursing-home inmates with "Film/SoylentGreen is people!" gets an IronicEcho [[spoiler:when Somni-451 discovers what ''really'' happens to Fabricants chosen for Xultation...]]
* BrokenPedestal: Zachry and his people worship a goddess called Sonmi. It comes as a shock to him to learn that Sonmi in fact was a human being.
* {{Brownface}}: Bae Doona plays a Mexican woman in one storyline. Jim Broadbent also shows up as a brown-skinned prescient.
* BurgerFool: Papa Song's Dinery where Sonmi~451 and her fellow clones work is a nightmare version of a fast food restaurant. In the novel, it's strongly implied to literally just be {{McDonalds}}, with multiple references to its "Golden Arches", the red and yellow colour scheme, and the Papa Song mascot resembling a clown. The film (very likely to avoid getting sued into oblivion) avoids this, having Papa Song look like an obese, smiling yellow Buddha-like figure, which is strongly thematically relevant on its own, given that Sonmi eventually becomes a REAL Buddha-like being in history herself and Buddha is mentioned very prominently in her story in the novel.
* CallForward:
** Frobisher, when presented with the opportunity to [[spoiler:slit Ayrs's throat]], has a sort of reverse deja vu calling forward to [[spoiler:Zachry slitting a Kona's throat]].
** Another one occurs in Frobisher's story, when Ayrs laughs at the idea of having sex with Frobisher; [[spoiler:when they have reincarnated as Timothy and Georgette, they end up having an affair.]]
* CantStopTheSignal: Sonmi's revelations somehow escape to reach all of Neo Seoul / Nea So Copros, and are passed down word-for-word until they are regarded as sacred texts.
* TheChosenOne: That's how the rebels see Sonmi-451.
* CloningBlues: Various types of fabricants are mass-produced to perform all sorts of tasks in Sonmi's era. As a result, human society has become dependant on the fabricants never questioning their lot in life. Indeed, fabricants are created specifically to be incapable of questioning their lot. How and why Sonmi (and her predecessor and friend Yoona) are different is an important plot point.
* ComicBookFantasyCasting: In-universe. When Cavendish is planning the escape with his compatriots, he imagines that a film adaptation should have the hero be "[[Creator/LaurenceOlivier Sir Laurence Olivier]] with a dash of Creator/MichaelCaine."
* CompositeCharacter: The film pragmatically combines some characters, like Noakes and Deirdre, Hae-Joo Im and Chang, Lloyd and Grimaldi, etc.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Lloyd in the 1975 storyline.
* TheCorrupter: Old Georgie, the future Hawaiian imagery of the devil. Zachry's tribe have a strong storytelling culture and smoke a ''whole'' lot of weed, so for them, seeing and hearing Old Georgie is as normal as anything. He very appropriately looks like a Hawaiian witch doctor in the film version.
* CrosscastRole: Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, and Ben Whishaw each have a role in another gender.
* CrossThrough: Basically ''Cross Through: TheMovie''.
* CrucifiedHeroShot: In the film, [[spoiler:the way the mechanisms of the fabricant recycling plant drag bodies along ends up with a different Sonmi (designated ''3''51 in the credits, just to make it seem even more like our Sonmi) speared through the ankles with her arms spread-eagle]].
* CultClassic: InUniverse, ''The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish'' is considered something like this by 2144. A scene from the movie also plays a role in Sonmi's revelation in the film version.
* CyberPunk: Neo Seoul in the film is this crossed with CrapsaccharineWorld.
* DeadlyDoctor: Henry Goose, though [[spoiler:Ewing eventually doubts that he was anything more than a murderous confidence trickster]].
* DeathByAdaptation: A Type 1 happens with [[spoiler:Dr. Henry Goose]]. See KarmicDeath.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Of a large number of tropes (see the entire page), maybe even storytelling itself, using [[CrossThrough Cross Throughs]] and ActingForTwo to demonstrate the presence of the same tropes in six rather different stories.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance:
** Ewing is very progressive for his time period, but still a product of his age. He's initially frightened that a Moriori stowaway will eat him.
** Frobisher is antisemitic and looks down on the working classes, as a typical son of wealthy British gentry of his period would.
** Timothy Cavendish has the lingering racism and disgust for youth culture that you might expect a bitter old man to have in modern times.
** Future Korea is a {{dystopia}} filled with deliberate values dissonance
** In future Hawaii, Zachry has a child at a very young age with a girl he barely knows. This doesn't seem to be considered abnormal, probably because life expectancies are so short.
* DepravedBisexual: Robert Frobisher -- charming, hedonistic, manipulative, thieving, sees no problem with cheating, freely admits he'll never truly love anyone but himself ([[spoiler:though in the end, he almost admits he loves Sixsmith... unless the "sole love of [his] short, bright life" he refers to is actually ''music''.]]) and leaps easily from one conquest to the next. He's a true self-absorbed sensualist and opportunist.
* DiesWideOpen: Happens several times.
* DinerBrawl: When a rowdy customer at Papa Song's gets a little too frisky with Yoona, he gets a punch to the head. [[spoiler: Unfortunately, Yoona's owner kills her on the spot a few moments later, however, as she tries to escape.]]
* DoesntLikeGuns: Luisa says that guns make her sick. This might tie her story in with the pacifist Moriori tribe in the Adam Ewing storyline, and more prominently with Robert Frobisher's story.
* DoomedAppointment: Mentioned by the [[GenreSavvy genre-savvy]] [[KidDetective Javier Gomez]]:
--> '''Luisa Rey''': "I promise I'll tell you everything that happened in the morning."\\
'''Javier Gomez''': "Okay, but I hope you realize you just said exactly what every character in any decent mystery says right before they get killed."
** Immediately subverted with the dark figure waiting in her room, who turns out to be a friends.
* DoomedHometown: [[spoiler:The Kona destroy Zachry's camp and kill or enslave his family and people.]]
* DoomedMoralVictor: Sonmi. To the point that she's worshipped as a god in the future.
* DrivenToSuicide: Frobisher, as depicted in his very first scene.
* {{Dystopia}}: Nea So Copros/Neo Seoul. How dystopic? Sonmi refers to other dystopian authors as "optimists."
* EternalEnglish: Averted. Ewing's and Frobisher's writing perfectly evokes the English of their eras. In 2144, many spellings are truncated (see {{Fictionary}}).
* EternalRecurrence: The idea of slavery is a recurring theme across times:
** Colonial slavery in America of 1859.
** Backstreet sweatshops in 1973.
** Engineered fabricants in 2144.
* ExactWords: Zachry once gets the chance to surprise a sleeping Kona, and prepares to slit his throat. But then he remembers the seer's words, warning him never to slit the throat of a sleeping enemy. [[spoiler: So he wakes up the Kona, and ''then'' slits his throat.]]
* ExplosiveLeash: The Fabricants are fitted with collars containing a small explosive, not big enough to cause anyone else harm but enough to burst the jugular of the Fabricant.
* FacelessGoons: The police force in the New Seoul subplot with their black dresses and masks.
* FanserviceWithASmile: Deconstructed in the film. The fabricant servers at Papa Song's wear quite revealing shorts and heels and receive sexual harassment as a result from some customers (and because "pureblood" humans treat fabricants like dirt).
* FantasticRacism: Against fabricants -- just look at Sonmi's attempt to attend a university lecture. By her time, however, actual racism is completely gone.
* {{Fictionary}}: In 2144, many spellings are truncated (particularly, "gh" seems to have been dropped entirely, resulting in "lite" and "thoro", etc.; additionally, "exactly" has become "xactly", etc.) and brand names have substituted several everyday terms ("disney" versus "film"). Both spelling and grammar have changed a good deal [[AfterTheEnd after the Fall]], although Meronym speaks it in a more twentieth century form in her communication with her ship's captain.
* ForegoneConclusion: In the film, Frobisher's suicide.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: All over. Just a ''few'' examples:
** Ayrs talks about a dream he has in "Letters from Zedelghem" -- of a restaurant where all the waitresses have the same face, in a reference to "An Orison of Sonmi~451".
** As Cavendish travels through the countryside, he mentions one area has been turned into a facility for "cloning humans for shady Koreans". A bit later, as Cavendish escapes Aurora House, he makes a crack about [[spoiler:Soylent Green]]. The nurse also threatens to make him eat soap. These all apply to "An Orison of Sonmi~451".
** And in ''Half-Lives'', Luisa Rey and Dr. Sachs discuss the notion of past lives, and Sachs tells her about feeling the two have met before. But it turns out to be a FlashForward instead, when characters played by Creator/TomHanks and Halle Berry meet again in ''Sloosha's Crossin'''.
*** There's another moment in ''Ghastly Ordeal'', when Hoggins flirts with an Indian woman. Again, they're played by Creator/TomHanks and Halle Berry.
* FiveManBand: Cavendish is a part of one in his story to break out of Aurora House, though its more like a Four Man Band.
** TheHero[=/=]TheSmartGuy: Erine comes up with the plans to break out and Cavendish calls him "ruddy ruddy Genius" in a moment of panic.
** TheLancer: Timothy Cavendish helps put Noakes at bay and drives the getaway car.
** TheChick: Veronica is the only lady of group and fits TheSmurfettePrinciple, though she helps in taking the phone they need to kickstart their escape.
** TheLoad[=/=][[spoiler:EleventhHourRanger]]: Mr. Meeks. Meeks wants to get out, but he's a bit of a loon and doesn't do much. [[spoiler: Until they get to the bar and he helps enlist the patrons to save them from Noakes.]]
* FutureSlang:
** Sonmi's era has been hit hard by this trope. Anything that began with 'ex' now only starts with 'x', and everyday items are referred to by the brand we would most readily associate with them, only without the capital letter. Hence nikes (running shoes), sonys (computers), disneys (movies) etc. Explicitly an example of BrandNameTakeover on a global scale, as her world is run by corporations.
** The humans of Zachry's era developed their own future slang as well, though it's more primitive.
* GenreBusting / GenreRoulette: Each story is a completely different genre, including PeriodDrama, HistoricalFiction, {{Cyberpunk}}, FilmNoir, {{Adventure}}, {{Satire}}, {{Comedy}}, {{Dystopia}}, ScienceFantasy, SpaceOpera, RomanticComedy, {{Romance}}, SpyFiction, MysteryFiction, {{Tragedy}}, and about [[{{Troperiffic}} everything inbetween]].
* GenreSavvy: Javier Gomez in the 1970s subplot. See DoomedAppointment and WritingIndentationClue.
* GenteelInterbellumSetting: Frobisher's era. His letters read like a particularly bitter Creator/PGWodehouse novel.
* GladToBeAliveSex: [[spoiler:Between Sonmi and Hae-Joo after witnessing the fabricant recycling plant.]]
* {{Gorn}}: While there is quite a bit of blood in the film, it's much more restrained than one would think.
** Yoona's slave collar slits her throat pretty graphically.
** [[spoiler: The fabricant slaughterhouse.]]
** [[spoiler: Frobisher]]'s suicide is very bloody.
** [[spoiler: The Kona Chief]]'s death has a lot of blood spewing out of his throat.
** The critic's death after being thrown off the roof by Hoggins -- he doesn't just land, he ''splatters''.
* GunKata: Hae-Joo Chang is pretty well trained in this, judging how easily he defeats multiple {{Mooks}}.
* HappinessInSlavery: Pretty much the main theme of the novel and film. Slavery appears in some form or another in every story:
** Adam Ewing slowly comes to realize that social darwinism is wrong. Explicitly referenced in the film, when Reverend Horrox, to prove a point, asks the slave serving them at the time if he is happier here working on the plantation than being free amongst his people. The slave says [[BlatantLies yes]].
** Van Ayres tries to blackmail Frobisher into remaining his assistant and supplying him with music to steal.
** Luisa and Joe stumble on a sweatshop.
** The retirement home that Cavendish is sent to is essentially a prison. Residents are expected to pretend to be happy with their "new life."
** Sonmi and her fabricant sisters are engineered to be happy in slavery.
* HeartbeatSoundtrack: Though it's somewhat difficult to hear over the score, the audience finally hears Hae-Joo's heart as Sonmi~451 does [[spoiler:as it slows to a stop]].
* HiddenElfVillage: Meronym's civilization is strongly implied to be this, due to the fact that they've retained technology from Sonmi's time.
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: [[ZigZaggedTrope Played straight, subverted, invoked, played straight again, and discussed at length]]. Arguably, the degree of truth to this trope is the main theme of the novel.
* HumanResources: [[spoiler:Fabricants are turned into food for new fabricants.]]
* ImAHumanitarian: Cannibalism, both literal and figurative, is a running motif through most of the stories. A few examples: In the first story Ewing is afraid the Moriori will eat him, and Dr. Goose remarks, "The weak are meat, the strong do eat." Cavendish jokingly references SoylentGreen. In Sonmi's story [[spoiler: Fabricants are recycled into food and other Fabricants]], and the last story just has a tribe of outright cannibals.
* HypocriticalHumor: Timothy Cavendish initially criticizes the manuscript of ''Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery'' sent to his publishing house for being badly written and obviously intended to be turned into a screenplay. His own story suffers from StylisticSuck, and he ends up putting in explicit directions for its future director (whom he imagines as a reclusive Swede named "Lars").
* ImpairmentShot: From the POV of a man who is being poisoned.
* IncompatibleOrientation: In the film, [[spoiler:Frobisher nurtures an affection for Ayrs that is cruelly dashed against the rocks when he tries to make an advance]].
* IntrepidReporter: Luisa Rey.
* KafkaKomedy: Cavendish' story.
* KarmicDeath: [[spoiler: Dr. Goose gets bludgeoned over the head with the money he was trying to steal.]]
* KickTheDog: The assassin in 1973 shoots the dog of a woman who is annoying him by not speaking English.
* KnuckleTattoos: Dermot Hoggins (Tom Hanks) in the 2012 story.
* KukrisAreKool: Autua has one in the scene where he asks Adam to kill him rather than give him up to the Captain.
* LaResistance:
** The Union in Neo Seoul.
** Cavendish mounts a minor one in the [[spoiler: retirement home]].
* LargeHam: Several actors get to have a lot of fun.
** Tom Hanks really gets to let loose in several of his roles, especially with Dr. Henry Goose and Dermont.
** Jim Broadbent as Cavendish is very fun to watch and his narration is the most playful than any of the other ones.
** Most of Hugo Weaving's performances are pretty restrained, but he completely gobbles the [[ChewingTheScenery scenery]] as Old Georgie.
* LaserGuidedKarma: Occurs repeatedly, both for good actions [[spoiler:(such as Ewing saving Adua's life, and then being saved by him)]] and bad [[spoiler:(as when Smoke [[KickTheDog shoots a woman's dog]] and is later killed by her)]]. Plays heavily into the theme that our actions create our own future.
* {{Leitmotif}}: The film gives one to Cavendish; the other stories utilize RecurringRiff to the fullest as opposed to using character-specific motifs.
* LighterAndSofter: Cavendish's story is the most comedic, though its narrator is also the most curmudgeonly.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Yet achieved with a limited set of actors.
* LockedIntoStrangeness: Zachry tells a story about a man named Truman, whose black hair went white from the shock of seeing Old Georgie harvesting a soul.
* LonelyPianoPiece: "The Cloud Atlas Sextet" in the film is a twinkly Debussy-esque piece. Strangely, the music only features one piano and one violin playing backup (i.e. not actually a sextet).
* LostTechnology: By the time of Zachry's era, technology has mostly devolved back to the iron age, but a small group has access to some stuff on our current level and a even a few objects more advanced than anything we currently have.
* MagicalNegro: Shown as the technologically advanced elites in the far future setting. Notably, the white characters live a primitive, tribal lifestyle. In many ways this comes off as a satirical inversion of the classic Victorian WhiteMansBurden setup.
* ManipulativeBastard: Frobisher, very much so. [[NotSoDifferent As is Ayrs]].
* MayDecemberRomance: Briefly one-sided from [[spoiler:Frobisher toward Ayrs]] in the film. May also just be another manipulation tactic.
* MatterReplicator: Sophisticated 3D-printer-like devices are seen rapidly assembling fast food in Papa Song's.
* MeaningfulName:
** Two of the {{Corrupt Corporate Executive}}s of Seaboard in the Luisa Rey story have the last names "Hooks" and "Wiley".
** Sixsmith partially inspired Frobisher's creation (smithing) of the Cloud Atlas Sextet (a piece written for six players).
** Jocasta, the composer Vyvyan Ayrs's wife. In GreekMythology, the wife of King Laios of Thebes and mother of Oedipus. In the film, DepravedBisexual Robert Frobisher (son figure) makes love with Jocasta (mother figure), the wife of Vyvyan (father figure)
** A [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meronymy "meronym"]] means something that is part of a whole.
* MegaCorp: The Corpocracy in 2144. Doubles as TheGovernment and PoliceState.
* MetaTwist: Timothy mentions [[spoiler:Soylent Green]] in connection with cloned Koreans before Sonmi's story even starts; the clones all [[spoiler: drinking the same nutrients each day]] invokes the connection very strongly. But the plot thread seemingly gets dropped very early on in Sonmi's tale, to focus on political intrigue instead. Small hints are dropped -- a reference to Malthus, for example. By the time Sonmi reaches the ship, it's of course a ForegoneConclusion that Xultation isn't real... but the sudden return of [[spoiler: the SoylentGreen theme]] is unexpected, if just because the story already includes such a large number of other famous sci-fi twists in its loving {{pastiche}}. And then it gets taken a step further when it turns out that [[spoiler:not just the Soap is made of discarded clones, but also the regular food in Papa Song's diner]].
* MindScrew: Each story initially appears to be set in the same universe as its predecessor. This is toyed with when Frobisher questions the veracity of Ewing's journal, then completely undermined when Cavendish receives Rey's story as a the manuscript for a fictional novel. Yet connections between the characters seem to bridge this fiction-reality divide, such as the shared birthmark of Frobisher, Rey, Sonmi, and Meronym. Similarly, the reader is led to believe that all of the protagonists are one reincarnated soul, marked by the distinctive birthmark, but this is disputed since the lifespans of Luisa Rey and Timothy Cavendish should overlap... ''unless'' [[FridgeBrilliance they're two aspects of the same person, since they're the exact same age]]. Her being a fictional character in his universe might be a more significant barrier, unless she was real and "Half-Lives" is a story based on her adventures -- which is entirely possible. [[spoiler: The film implies this possibility more heavily than the book, because in the film the "Half-Lives" manuscript is written by Javier Gomez, the same kid who routinely drops in to visit Luisa and doesn't shut up about mystery tropes.]]
** Cavendish and Luisa Rey may actually be of exactly the same age: she was born in 1947 (would turn sixty-five in 2012), and Cavendish is "65 and a half" in 2012. Can one soul be divided in two?
* TheMourningAfter: It's implied Sixsmith lived forty-five more years, but never loved again after Frobisher. Ouch.
* MulticoloredHair: What the novel implies to be white hair on the fabricants is instead normal Asian black hair in the film, but with two locks of some bright color.
* NestedStory: With the relationship between the various narratives left deliberately unclear. Robert Frobisher thinks Adam's journal looks fake, the archivist interviewing Sonmi refuses to accept parts of her story, and Zachry's son thinks his dad probably made part of his story up. It's entirely purposeful, and it ties into what Isaac Sachs writes about virtual pasts and virtual futures.
* NewNeoCity: Neo Seoul.
* NextSundayAD: "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish" takes place in 2012; the novel was published in 2004. Ironically, the movie was released in 2012, so the story became a contemporary one, even though it wasn't so in the book.
* NotQuiteDead
* NoTrueScotsman: Inverted, invoked, and exploited by Mr. Meeks in the pub.
* OnlyAFleshWound: "The bullet went right through and killed nothing but his appetite."
* {{Pastiche}}: Every story. Most notable in Sonmi's chapters. The film even adds some wonderful GunKata straight out of ''{{Equilibrium}}'' to her story.
* PlanetOfHats: Sonmi's time period. The hat in question? Capitalism.
* PlotSensitiveLatch: While being locked up tight, Adam's chest full of gold springs open when used to [[spoiler:[[KarmicDeath knock out Dr. Henry Goose]]]].
* {{Postmodernism}}: Yes.
* PoweredByAForsakenChild: [[spoiler: Fabricants that serve out their time as workers are killed and recycled into Soap and food to feed fabricants and purebloods, respectively. Sonmi has the good fortune to ''watch this happen''.]]
* PragmaticAdaptation: The movie, while retaining the six-story structure and basic premise, has many differences from the novel, with several characters and plot threads, such as Ayrs's daughter or Sonmi's brief stay at a Buddhist monastery, being cut wholesale. The new medium does allow us to actually see Cavendish's stage directions and hear Frobisher's music.
* PromotedToLoveInterest:
** [[spoiler:Frobisher has a short-lived infatuation for Ayrs in the film]].
** [[spoiler:Hae-Joo and Sonmi have sex in the novel too, but the novel's incidence is emotionally sterile GladToBeAliveSex. The sexual encounter in the film is on much better terms; the film also has Sonmi declare her undying love for Hae-Joo in her orison]].
** [[spoiler:Meronym for Zachry]].
* [[PuttingAHandOverHisMouth Putting A Hand Over Her Mouth]]: When Joe ambushes Luisa Rey in her apartment, he uses this trope to muffle her screaming.
* RealisticDictionIsUnrealistic: Shown both ways in the film with "Ghastly Ordeal" and its in-universe film version. The actual scene has Cavendish splutter and trip over his own words, because he's too enraged to speak straight and is resorting to making up legislation to justify his release from Aurora House. The film-within-the-film version has Tom Hanks as Cavendish flawlessly deliver these lines, even the one about the made-up-on-the-spot "Incarceration Act".
* RecurringRiff: In the film, "The Atlas March" and the various melodies of "The Cloud Atlas Sextet".
* {{Reincarnation}}: A recurring theme in the novel (though it is left ambiguous whether it is real). Also an explicit belief of the Valleysmen in "Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After", of the Buddhist priests in Sonmi's era and of the Moriori. Luisa doesn't believe in it at all.
* ReleasedToElsewhere: [[spoiler: The fabricants believe Xultation means liberation, and look forward to it -- except they're only taken away to be killed and recycled]].
* RocketRide: The speeders used by police force in Neo Seoul.
* {{Satan}}: Ol' Georgie.
* SciFiBobHaircut: Sonmi and the other fabricans sport one.
* TheSecretOfLongPorkPies: [[spoiler: The Soap that the Fabricants drink? It's made from them. And if we are also going by the book, the food at Papa-Song's is essentially SoylentGreen as well.]]
* SelfDeprecation: Cavendish finds a manuscript of Luisa Rey's adventure and dismisses the {{Reincarnation}} angle as far too New Age-y, despite [[LampshadeHanging having a similar birthmark himself]]. He also describes the birthmark in decidedly less romantic imagery than the comet everyone else seems to see it as.
* SleepingDummy: Timothy Cavendish uses one to distract the warden.
* SocialDarwinist: Another running theme throughout multiple stories. In the film, Hugo Weaving's character(s) echo the phrase "There's a natural order to things" in various contexts.
* SparedByTheAdaptation: [[spoiler: Joe Napier from ''Half-Lives'', Timothy's brother Denny from ''The Ghastly Ordeal'', and Zachry from ''Sloosha's Crossin[='=]''.]]
* StabTheSalad: [[spoiler: Zachary looks like he's about to stab Meronym but instead stabs a weird hologram thing next to her.]]
* StepfordSmiler: The fabricant waitresses are genetically engineered to always smile.
* StickyBomb: Hae-Joo uses sticky bombs to dispose of some Unanimity aircrafts.
* StopOrIWillShoot: "[[NoKillLikeOverkill Excessive force authorised]]."
* StylisticSuck: The film that Sonmi-451 watches based on Cavendish's life is campy, over-acted (by an obviously made-up Tom Hanks) and bears only the loosest resemblance to the actual Cavendish we see in the film.
* SufficientlyAdvancedAlien: Meronym and the other Prescients are this, to the Valley folk. Subverted in that the Prescients are in crisis with no place to live.
* SurvivorGuilt: Zachry gets this twice -- once when during his childhood a band of Kona kill his father and kidnap his brother, and again in his adulthood when the Kona destroy his camp and kill or enslave his family and people.
* TechnicolorEyes: The Abbess' eyes flash various colours while she is trying to learn the meaning of Zachry's dream in the film.
* TeethFlying: At the previously-mentioned BarBrawl.
* ThereAreNoTherapists: Frobisher has the bad luck of being a manic-depressive in 1931.
* TimeyWimeyBall: The film jumps between stories several times in succession. The film's example of TogetherInDeath also only makes sense if reincarnation isn't sequential.
* TitleDrop:
** Zachry talks about wishing he had some kind of map to track souls as they move across the ages, like clouds across the sky. He calls it an "atlas o' clouds".
** Cavendish, [[OutOfCharacterMoment in an oddly poignant moment]], writes a passage about the futility of recording the ephemeral, once again referring to an "atlas of clouds".
** The title of Frobisher's masterpiece is ''The Cloud Atlas Sextet''. Its structure is described as extremely similar to that of the novel, with six individual parts slowly woven together into one greater whole. Frobisher himself isn't sure if it's clever or gimmicky.
* TogetherInDeath:
** [[spoiler: Frobisher hopes that this will be the fate of himself and Sixsmith. Considering that the entire plot is about reincarnation, not the afterlife, this may be either false hope or they could be together in another timeline. Interestingly (in the film at least), they both die the same way - with a gun in their mouth.)]]
** [[spoiler:The film has Sonmi believe that she will be reunited with Hae-Joo in another life, and immediately cuts to Ewing and his wife (the same actor and actress) being reunited at the end of Ewing's voyage. Additionally, both actors played the parents of Rufus Sixsmith's niece. So it's more like they were ''already'' together in two very different, much ''earlier'' lives, unless TimeyWimeyBall applies to the reincarnation of souls]].
* TranslationConvention: Possible aversion in "An Orison of Sonmi~451": the archivist comments on how Sonmi speaks good "Consumer", and she replies in what sounds like futuristic Korean. Thus, we can infer that "Korean" exists but is viewed as the common people's parlance, whereas English (or Consumer, if English simply serves as a stand-in for the sake of storytelling) is what all the higher-class people and/or the government speak. This is akin to how Latin was used historically throughout much of Europe.
* TranslatorMicrobes: In the film. When Meronym and Zachry happen upon Sonmi's orison, the computer playing it translates her Korean to English in real-time. This wasn't present in the novel; when Zachry watches the orison he can't understand what Sonmi is saying.
* TrappedInASinkingCar: Luisa Rey's beetle is being pushed off a bridge to prevent her from exposing industry secrets. She manages to escape from the sinking vehicle in an OffscreenMomentOfAwesome.
* TrespassingToTalk: Luisa Rey returns home only to find someone waiting in the dark of her room. [[spoiler:It's not an enemy though.]]
* TribalFacepaint: The film gives the Valleysmen facial tattoos and the Kona intimidating, skull-like warpaint. Real-world facial tattoos from Australasian tribes also appear in "Pacific Journal".
* TheUnfavorite: Robert Frobisher is this to his parents, who much prefer his older brother who died in UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne. Frobisher isn't too fond of his Mater and Pater either.
* VideoCredits: A good use of this trope in the film, showing all of the roles that each actor plays, [[PaintingTheMedium with the font changing for each era the role was in]].
* VindicatedByHistory: In-universe. Sonmi's actions make her go from being the face of a rebellion to an outright god worshiped by Zachary and his tribe.
* ViolentGlaswegian: Cavendish and his co-conspirators manage to [[spoiler:throw off their captors for good]] in a pub in Scotland [[ExploitedTrope by appealing to this trope]]. The Scots Rugby team have just lost a televised match against England, and the escapees turn the patrons' built-up anger against the mostly English [[spoiler:hospital staff]] (by saying that the [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotPolitical latter are trying to claim 'dominion' over them]]).
* VisionsOfAnotherSelf: the same actors swap roles for each time period, but the same soul incarnates as multiple characters, as shown by a star-shaped birthmark.
* WaistcoatOfStyle: In the film, Robert Frobisher has to give his (borrowed from Sixsmith) up when he is desperate and broke.
** Old Georgie in the film also wears an incredibly battered one, fitting as it takes place in a scavenger world.
* WhoWearsShortShorts: The Fabricants do.
* WholePlotReference: The entire structure of the story bears a ''very'' strong similarity to Osamu Tezuka's manga ''Manga/{{Phoenix}}'', including the time jumps, the themes of resurrection and of intertwined fates, the denoument set AfterTheEnd and much more. The individual stories also qualify:
** "An Orison of Sonmi~451" has several key similarities to ''Literature/BraveNewWorld'', such as the foundation of a dystopia following a GreatOffscreenWar, mandatory consumer quotas, tailor-made clones, a populace kept happy with psychoactive drugs, and a rebellion informed by modern literature. Sonmi actually reads ''Literature/BraveNewWorld'' halfway through her story.
** Adam Ewing's plot to ''Literature/MobyDick'' (with Melville and whales being mentioned frequently), and Cavendish's story to ''OneFlewOverTheCuckoosNest'' (he saw the film once).
* WorldOfBadass: Not to the extremes of other works, but there are a lot of courageous characters in the story. Everybody pulls off risky schemes to either save their skin or save others.
* WritingIndentationClue: Javier Gomez discovering the name "Megan" written on the envelop in the 1970s plot.
* {{Yellowface}}: All the non-Asian main cast members (including the black actors) except for Hanks and Whishaw appear in yellowface in "An Orison of Sonmi~451". Bae Doona and Zhou Xun also invert the trope by playing white and Latina women in two stories.
* YourCheatingHeart: In the film's "Ghastly Ordeal", [[spoiler:this along with all the unpaid loans is Denny's motivation for shutting up Timothy in Aurora House -- Timothy had slept with Denny's wife]]. In the book, Cavendish wonders whether this is the case, but it's left ambiguous.
* YouWouldntShootMe: In the film, Vyvyan Ayrs tries this on Frobisher when the latter decides he's not going to let Ayrs take the credit for the ''Cloud Atlas Sextet''. [[spoiler:And then gets shot anyway, although the bullet only "kills his appetite" by passing clean through his stomach and not fatally injuring him.]]
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