In the movie there seemed to be 6 eras where events happened. I say eras because it started at some point from the past and unwrapped to the future. So these 6 eras seemed to be consecutive.

But then it occurred to me (forgive me I can't remember the names) that the Cloud-Atlas symphony was made by the composer after he had a dream he had been in a 'futuristic cafe' where he heard it. So he composed it. But if these eras where consecutive then he couldn't have had the dream hearing his own song since he hadn't composed it yet. So is it possible that these events were parallel, and kinda happening at the same time? Because if he hadn't composed it the cafe wouldn't play it and so he couldn't have the dream that helped him compose the Cloud-Atlas symphony, it's a circle. Hope I'm clear enough

  • you should edit your title (I can't, not enough rep) with "Were the time eras in Cloud-Atlas happening in parallel?" :D Jan 18, 2013 at 12:50
  • lol didn't even notice
    – libathos
    Jan 18, 2013 at 12:55
  • OH MY GOD, I never realized the full implications of THAT! So Vivian hears the Cloud-Atlas symphony by RF in Papa-Song cafe in a dream, by some sorta weird coincidence, and then thinks it is his own composition! Amazing. There was even a hint "all the waitresses had the same face"! Oh man, I think I should watch it again to catch all of these :D
    – Aditya M P
    Mar 1, 2013 at 5:02
  • glad i helped :)
    – libathos
    Mar 2, 2013 at 23:50

1 Answer 1


If you read on Wikipedia, you can see that the stories are, in fact, temporally subsequent to one another:

  • South Pacific Ocean, 1849 (the "ship travel era")

  • Cambridge, England and Edinburgh, Scotland, 1936 (the "composer era")

  • San Francisco, California, 1973 (the "nuclear secrets" era)

  • United Kingdom, 2012 (the "Cavendish era")

  • Neo Seoul, (Korea), 2144 (the "Sonmi era")

  • The Hawaiian Islands on post-apocalyptic Earth (dated "106 winters after "The Fall", identified as 2321) (the "Tom Hanks caveman era")

They are somehow connected, but not temporally bound to each other. The whole point of the movie and the book is that our actions remain and influence other people lives. The main quote (for both the book and the movie) is:

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

which is pretty much self explanatory. It's not an easy movie to follow, in my opinion, since it's not easy to understand how the future can influence the past (exactly what you are struggling with, in your OP). My two cents on this is that we don't have to think of it as a direct influence, but mostly as a dream, like Ayrs did, dreaming the Sextet. He did not dream a precise future (he says it was vague and kept loosing the perception of the dream slowly over time). I think for filming purposes this was just rendered showing brief shots of the "somni future" as his vague dream. That's what maybe is giving you headaches :)

  • thx for the answer :) i think i'm covered!
    – libathos
    Jan 19, 2013 at 10:37

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