Music is a central part of the Cloud Atlas story, particularly in one sequence of the film’s narrative involving a young composer who struggles to complete his life’s work, entitled The Cloud Atlas Sextet. This musical theme then recurrs throughout the film and helps to connect multiple threads of action together as a single story moving through time.
“It’s an ever-present melody from a simple string line to a riff in a 1970s rock piece, to a jazz sextet playing in the background at the Cavendish party. We needed something beautiful and malleable enough to take us through five centuries,” said Tykwer. “There are lots of subjective voices in the story, and we were searching for one voice that could encompass them all, to form a beautiful choir.”
Because of this the three composers began working on the music before a single frame of film was shot.
“He prefers this to using temporary music by other composers,” Heil explained. “It allows him to use the temp score without worrying about what will take its place. As the film takes shape in post-production, we see what’s missing or needs changing and re-record the final.”
In the powerful and inspiring epic Cloud Atlas, drama, mystery, action and enduring love thread through a single story that unfolds in multiple timelines over the span of 500 years. Characters meet and reunite from one life to the next. Born and reborn. As the consequences of their actions and choices impact one another through the past, the present and the distant future, one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
Everything is connected.
Academy Award® winners Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump) and Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) lead a stellar international cast that also includes Oscar® winner Jim Broadbent (Iris), Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Xun Zhou, Keith David and David Gyasi, with Oscar® winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) and Hugh Grant. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the story moves through time. Cloud Atlas is produced by Grant Hill, Stefan Arndt, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski, with executive producers Philip Lee, Uwe Schott and Wilson Qui.
Reinhold Heil was born in a small town in West Germany and trained to become a classical pianist. While studying at the Berlin Music Academy, Heil became Nina Hagen’s keyboardist, co-writer, and co-producer and for the next few years honed his craft in what became the legendary Nina Hagen Band. After Hagen left the group, the remaining band members formed Spliff, one of Germany’s most successful rock bands of the 1980s.
Born in Australia, Johnny Klimek paid his dues in a series of gritty pub bands before migrating to Berlin to form the ‘80s pop ensemble “The Other Ones” with his siblings. He segued into the club music scene on his own in the ’90s, and, out of the latter emerged his creative marriages to both Heil and Tykwer.
Among Klimek and Heil’s credits are Killer Elite, the TV series Awake, One Hour Photo, the acclaimed TV series Deadwood, and the theme song for Without a Trace. Up next for the duo is I, Frankenstein, starring Bill Nighy and Aaron Eckhart, slated for release in February.