Cloud Atlas, Global Cinema and Transculturalism

Cloud Atlas, December 4, 2010 | © Courtesy of anokarina/Flickr.
Cloud Atlas, December 4, 2010 | © Courtesy of anokarina/Flickr.

On March 22, 2019, Stephen Trinder has published an article entitled “Encounters with the Other: Transcultural Possibilities in the Wachowskis’ and Tykwer’s Cloud Atlas” in Open Cultural Studies.

A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.


In his paper, Stephen Trinder has analyzed the eponymous science fiction film version of Cloud Atlas, written by David Mitchell, a British novelist and scriptwriter, which was published in 2004. The cinematic adaptation of the latter was directed by the American transgender duo of Lana and Lilly Wachowski and Germany-based Tom Tykwer, while premiering internationally on 2012. Consequently, Trinder concentrates on the “the advancement of transcultural messages in global cinema” (232), such as in the 2012 Cloud Atlas film. According to this author, “[t]ransculturality […] stresses fluidity (Lewis 75), promoting the “hybrid” (Canclini, Bhabha) nature of culture as a phenomenon that “blurs the boundaries” of our supposed collective differences (Antor 30)” (233).

In this article, Trinder focuses on “transcultural patterns from a postcolonial perspective, with the aim of assessing the influence that colonial discourse (Said, Orientalism, Culture and Imperialism; Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Black Skin/White Masks; Bhabha) continues to hold over questions of identity in global and transnational cinema” (233). In this context, “Cloud Atlas encompasses six interweaving storylines that take place over the course of 500 years and can be described fundamentally as a tale of reincarnation built upon a philosophy of how “the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present, and future” (Cloud Atlas Official)” (234).

Based on his qualitative analyses, Trinder argues that the “evidence of ethnic hierarchy and colonial discourse vis-à-vis white individualistic heroism (see Ryan and Lenos 147) demonstrates that Cloud Atlas’s liberal-humanist worldview is one that can ultimately be branded as compromised by monocultural assumptions of Western values and ideals as superior” (241). This is likely because “[t]he genre of science fiction has been the focus of much scholarly work with regard to its critical interrogation of human subjectivity and Otherness (Cornea 176), as well as its potential to challenge stereotypical representations of history and culture (Rieder, Geraghty)” (239).

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Cloud Atlas, December 4, 2010 | © Courtesy of anokarina/Flickr.

Cite this article as: Pablo Markin, "Cloud Atlas, Global Cinema and Transculturalism," in Open Culture, 06/05/2019, https://oc.hypotheses.org/2182.

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