A truly cooperative affair, 2012's mesmerizing new age/fantasy/science fiction/drama Cloud Atlas utilized not only three directors (Tom Tykwer and Lana and Andy Wachowski), but three composers (Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil) as well. The trio, who penned scores for Tykwer's other films including Run Lola Run, The Princess and the Warrior, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, and The International under the moniker Pale 3, do a remarkable job in unifying (musically) the multi-layered film, which spans 500 years and six different stories, by ignoring its density and concentrating on a handful melodies as a catalyst. One of the film's most important threads is that of the "Cloud Atlas Sextet," which travels through the narrative like a boomerang, affecting characters across centuries. The piece itself is lovely, deftly balancing sorrow and sentimentality without ever becoming cloying, occasionally subverting the melancholy with impish, wicked whimsy. The other thread, "The Atlas March," is more subtle, offering up a simpler melody that retains its other half's drama, yet carries with it the weight and wistfulness of age. Tykwer, Klimek and Heil could have tried to take on Cloud Atlas' immensity head on, utilizing the kind of explosive, heavy artillery that has become the norm for big spectacle films (which is what many composers would have done after feasting their eyes on the film's epic, sumptuous visuals), but by choosing a more nuanced discipline, they’ve not only helped to illuminate the film's emotional core, they've gone and unearthed it.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger