When I was an aspiring meteorologist, I would frequently consult the Cloud Atlas in our office library. It was a beautiful collection of colour photographs of different types of clouds. It helped me to understand how clouds were classified and how they got names like cumulus, stratus, cirrus, altocumulus and so on. Many of the clouds shown in the Cloud Atlas could never be spotted in the Indian skies.

But that was many decades ago. Now, thousands of cloud pictures can be viewed instantly just by giving a search on Google Images. And it is even funny that Cloud Atlas is a movie that can be watched in a theatre!

Cloud Atlas, released a few days ago, is a science fiction movie produced at a cost of 100 million dollars. The film is said to be an “exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.”

The film Cloud Atlas is based on six separate but inter-related stories, each having its own setting in space and time. Actors Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant are common to all the stories. In the sixth story, most of human civilization has perished. But Meronym, a remnant, meets Zachry, a primitive tribesman on an island. He guides her into the mountains in search of Cloud Atlas, a place from where she can send a message to earth’s former inhabitants who are now living in space.

Cloud Atlas is no longer a compilation of cloud photographs. It is a collection of stories. Clouds may indeed be the connection between the human spirit and the heavens!

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