I recently read The Island of the Colour-Blind and Cycad Island by neurologist and writer Dr Oliver Sacks. It is an account of the neurologist’s travels to Pacific Islands to understand medical conditions that have become endemic in these islands and why and how they came to be so. The book is also an exploration of how a multitude of events (often unrelated) and the resulting circumstances affect isolated populations, and the continued impacts on several generations of these communities.
This week I watched the film Cloud Atlas, which is based on the David Mitchell novel of the same name. I recently read the novel and really liked it, so, I wasn’t keen to watch the movie. After all, film versions of much-loved novels rarely live up to expectations.
I was somewhat reluctant to watch it for another reason: I had read that in scenes set in a futuristic dystopian Korea, characters who are supposed to be Korean are played by Caucasian actors made up to look Korean. Why in this day and age would you use Caucasian actors for non-Caucasian characters? In a time when communication and travel between countries and continents is the easiest it has ever been, why couldn’t the film-makers hire actors with the right heritage or ‘look’ for the role?