For a while, I had been put off by the length of the movie, 3 hours is a long time to just sit and focus on something, (I hadn't done that since the Lord of the Ring movies) and like many people, I have so much other stuff I should be doing. But last night I decided, sod it, and settled down for the movie. I knew very little about the film, I've never read the book so was coming to it from trailers and advertising.
For the first hour, I confess I was a little bored, well, not bored as such, but with 6 stories, 6 sets of characters, an hour only gives me a possible 10 minutes to connect with each story (each could easily have been expanded into a film in their own right) and this hour was designed to allow you to meet the various characters so it was quite slow as each story was set up and we moved back and forth between each one. After the first hour, however, the pace picked up, the dramatic music kicked in and it started to become clear how the stories entwined and impacted on one another.
I loved the idea of lives being connected across time and the possibility of rebirth and the soul, some people destined to repeat mistakes and behaviour, better themselves or fall in love again and again, how actions in the past mirrored those in the future, and how threads worked their way through time from one lifetime to the next. For example, the journal written in the 1800s is read by the main guy in the 1930s, whose music and love notes end up in the hands of the 1970s protagonist. Or Doona Bae who first plays the wife of Jim Sturgess' character in the 1800s. She is a minor character at her husband's side as he makes a decision to join the fight to abolish slavery. Yet in the future, the character she plays has an important role in the fight for freedom (yet again alongside Jim Sturgess). She is inspired by a movie of 2012 events and her words go on to inspire in a god-like way the tribes people in the future and final part of the timeline. *head explodes*
There was so much stuff that just wove the stories together and I could ramble on but I'll leave it for you to discover and make your own mind up and if you think you miss anything, with a quick Google you can find lists of other connections and also ideas about how the stories/characters/lives/souls are connected and comparison to the book - but be careful, seriously, I had a look and my head started hurting with all the thinking it brought on lol
Whatever you take away from the movie, it is a journey starting in the 1800s all the way to the 2300s and it's all very clever. I have no idea about the book, but the visual representation is incredibly intricate in its storytelling and I think I was happier seeing it (like with Game of Thrones) than perhaps reading it because it certainly helped me to keep track of characters and all the links across time and places.
Anyway, I would say the film is either a love or hate kind of film, visually it was stunning and the storyteller in me was fascinated at how plot points, small and large, were carried throughout the film to its conclusion. I actually cared about the characters and their individual tales. It was pure escapism, just as a movie should be :)