Weather Report: Rating the Clouds in Cloud Atlas

With another hot flick about clouds hitting the big screen this fall, FM took the opportunity to cast a critical eye on clouds featured in the new motion picture “Cloud Atlas.” This cloud study was conducted according to the standard scientific definition of a cloud: a hydrometeor consisting of minute particles of liquid, water, or ice—or a mixture of those—suspended in air and usually not touching the ground. Cloud quality was considered and evaluated in relation to the species and form of the specimen in question.

1) 00:01:36 — Puffy fair weather cumulus clouds floating around mid-level are shown as reflections in the puddles between the boulders on the Chatham Islands of the Adam Ewing story. They’re classic and numerous with pristine color: our top pick.

2) 01:36:41 — Mid-level and expansive cumulonimbus clouds loom around the rocky mountaintops of the big island of Hawaii near the Mauna Kea volcano where Sloosha begins his crossing. The immense and towering nature of these clouds makes them the film’s second-best cloud achievement.

3) 01:59:27 — Horizontal layers of baby blue billow clouds surround the mast of Ewing’s ship in this sunset scene. The sea exaggerates the tubular nature of these low-slung clouds, making them appear more dynamic than most billow specimens.

4) 00:24:01 — High-level cirrostratus clouds, tinged orange with the evening sun, stand out against Seoul’s dark skyline during the introduction of Sonmi-451. The originality of this shade of orange combined with the stark Halloween-like contrast of Korean skyscrapers helped these clouds make our top-five list.

5) 01:05:26 — Distinctly low-level altostratus clouds, grayish white in color and expansive, appear through the windshield as Luisa Rey heads across the Swannekke Island bridge. Though gray and dull, the wide-screen focus on these clouds glorifies their otherwise ordinary beauty.