An Open Letter to the Makers of “Cloud Atlas”

Dear makers of Cloud Atlas,

Last weekend, my partner and I saw Cloud Atlas – well, most of it. We watched for about two hours and then couldn’t stomach the violence anymore. We chose to leave instead of finding out what happened at the end.

I would’ve walked out sooner, but I was intrigued by the interwoven plot lines and parallel characters. Fascinated by the fragmented, echoing narratives. And impressed by the story’s moral: the film tells us that our choices reverberate to create our past and future, and that our survival depends on living from a sense of oneness.

In some ways, Cloud Atlas is revolutionary. But it isn’t visionary. In spite of its attempt to convey interdependence and inspire compassion, it achieves the exact opposite because of its violence. The purity and beauty of the message are undercut by the hatred shown in scene after scene of graphic fighting and killing.

These times of violence, isolationism, and fear need media that embody an antidote – not a mirror. We need to realize what the character Sonmi 451 supposedly realized in this film: from womb to tomb, we not only rely on each other; we are each other. Sadly, the movie doesn’t let us feel her realization for ourselves or show us a path toward it. Instead, it batters us with the divisiveness and suffering we’re already steeped in.

To be a visionary filmmaker or artist in these times, to really bring home the concept of oneness, requires radical nonviolence. It requires resisting our collective addiction to fear. It calls for extreme integrity and a mind/heart that can imagine a world free of enemies.

Film has the power to ignite our collective imagination, to plant seeds of what we might become. It is a magical medium – its images become our dreams, and then our dreams become our reality. We’re drowning in films that horrifically reflect our suffering. We urgently need films that show us ways out of suffering, ways to heal, ways to nurture our budding understanding of oneness. When we understand our interconnectedness, we’ll do everything possible to cherish life and keep from hurting anyone.

I challenge the makers of Cloud Atlas – and all filmmakers and artists – to call forth your imagination and skill to create media that show humanity our highest potential. Devote your brilliance to showing us the harmlessness and love that blossom when we know we are each other.


Natascha Bruckner


One response to “An Open Letter to the Makers of “Cloud Atlas”

  1. Hi sweet cousin – This post makes me want to watch that movie in order to formulate more precise questions and answer some of the vague ones that I have now. I wonder, from a literary standpoint, how would one grab and keep the attention of average, high school educated people with 2 minute attention spans without the drama created by violence, ignorance, hate, etc.? How would one create a protagonist who does not suffer? How could all of the suffering people relate to such a character? Also, I live with wild creatures. I study their habits, follow their sign and tracks. I enter their homes and spend hundreds of hours visiting silently with them. I watch them without them ever knowing I’m watching. What I find is that they have no preoccupation with violence or non-violence. They simply do what they must in order to survive. They fight for their lives. For the rest of the living world (everything non-human), violence is a necessary tool to find food, to feed their young and to protect themselves from those that would harm and/or eat them. I understand well that humans are unique in that we can transcend these behaviors and gather food, like vegetables, that we can’t hear cry, can’t recognize as living as easily as things with eyes, yet suffer just the same when we harvest them. The only way to avoid this is to eat things that have fallen or, basically, lost their lives to other forms of death. Even on a cellular level we see signs of violence. Sperm from two men, when introduced to the same egg, will form “battle lines” and, like two football teams (quite literally), kill each other in an attempt to get a “runner” through the opposing line. So, I wonder, is it possible to remove violence from life? Not without removing life. While we raise our children to live non-violently, we also teach them that it exists and teach them ways to protect themselves from violence. Every story has violence because it reflects the living experience, regardless of what life form you call yourself. How would a story hold our interest without drama, suffering and redemption? Nobody wants to watch somebody wake up, meditate, eat, work in the garden, eat, sit in the sun, read, eat, do laundry, laugh with friends, eat and go to bed. Boring! Peace may be found in every step, but not every story. Love you deeply!

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