MUMBAI: Chinese viewers of Cloud Atlas will have to make do with a version that’s missing 40 minutes from the original shown everywhere else in the world.
According to reports in the Chinese media, Cloud Atlas released in Beijing last Monday night in a 130-minute cut much shorter than the 169-minute version released worldwide (including Hong Kong, which sustains a film censorship system independent from mainland China). It is however understood that the film’s directing trio Andy Wachowski, his sister Lanaand and Germany’s Tom Tykwer were not involved in the re-edit.
Speaking to the Chinese press before the film’s premiere, they said that they acknowledged the constraints of releasing the film in China, but they trusted the editing qualities of the film’s Chinese co-producers, Dreams of the Dragon Pictures.
A report in the Shanghai-based Dongfang Daily had reported that expository sequences and passionate love scenes were edited out from the film which opens in China on 31 January while gory sequences depicting a character being shot in the head or another having his throat slit remained.
At the center of this screen adaptation of novelist David Mitchell’s multi-stranded Cloud Atlas is a romantic relationship between budding composer Robert Frobisher (played by Ben Whishaw) and his Cambridge schoolmate Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy) – and it is high likely that scenes from this thread were left off the Chinese version of the film, as same-sex romances remain a taboo for Chinese censors.
In another scene, set in a 22nd century Korean city called Neo-Seoul, a human-replicant waitress (played by Chinese actress Zhou Xun) is shown having sex with her foreman, an image which could run into problems with the authorities.
Cloud Atlas is the second foreign production bowing in China in a censored version in as many weeks. Skyfall, which was released in the country last Monday, was released with a scene of the killing of a Chinese doorman cut out and subtitles which obscured the on-screen lines about a prostitution ring in Macau and torture meted out by Chinese intelligence services.