The Cloud Atlas Sextet
"That's it. The music from my dream." - Vyvyan Ayrs, 1936
Tom Tykwer is among a select group of filmmakers who compose music for their own
movies. And, unlike the way films are generally scored, after they are shot and
edited, it's a
process he likes to begin well in advance of filming. Collaborating with Johnny
Reinhold Heil, with whom he has scored nearly all his films, Tykwer had the
music for "Cloud
Atlas" written and recorded two months prior to principal photography.
"He prefers this to using temporary music by other composers," Heil explains.
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
"In this way," Tykwer adds, "the music becomes an atmospheric note or sublevel
only for the film, but as inspiration to the cast, making the score a part of
"The first thing they did at the table read was play the music for the actors
and show us
renderings, so we would know the adventure we were going on," says Hanks. "It
was all part of
a fully realized vision that was presented to us from the get-go."
The composers welcomed their widening circle. Says Klimek, "It was great to get
from Lana and Andy, who are not musicians but have a sense for using music
They stirred our process in the best possible way."
The music is first the focus of the Frobisher narrative, as the young composer
complete his life's work, The Cloud Atlas Sextet, but beyond that, says Klimek,
"It's an ever-present
melody, from a simple string line to a riff in a 1970s rock piece, to a jazz
in the background at the Cavendish party. We needed something beautiful and
to take us through five centuries."
"Lifetimes later, someone who hears it might sense its familiarity," Tykwer
acknowledging how the score becomes, itself, a part of the larger reincarnation
sextet belongs to the period in which it was conceived, the 1930s, in what would
modernistic style, but also recurs everywhere and matches so many scenes,
becoming the central
theme for the entire film."
The Cloud Atlas Sextet echoes the composition of the story itself, with all its
pieces, moods and themes rhythmically merging into a whole. Embracing that
Tykwer says, "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."
Citing a sentiment expressed by the character Adam Ewing, whose adventure opens
saga in 1849, Andy Wachowski says, "One of the last lines of the film is Adam
'What is an ocean, but a multitude of drops.' And when you think of all the
people who were
involved, all the favors we called in, all the individuals who contributed to
this collective, that's
really the story of the making of this film."
"There's an idea I've always liked, that the real nature of immortality is our
actions that go on apportioning themselves throughout all of time," says Lana
such an intriguing concept and part of what got us to thinking about making this
what we were hoping to capture."
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