Yesterday, I believed…

This morning over my morning coffee I stumbled upon a trailer for a new movie, Cloud Atlas. Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and a bunch of other high-profile bankables, and directed by the two Matrix directors (plus one other…), it is one of those films that will either be a vastly successful epic that will capture the hearts of many like The English Patient, or fall flat and maybe become the butt of jokes on sit-coms — like The English Patient.

I watched the ultra-long trailer here — it seems they learned their lesson from John Carter and decided not to cut the trailer too short and therefore lose all meaning (you can see a directors’ interview here that all but confirms that, or at least seems influenced by the marketing failures of John Carter, if you know that history…)

Tom Hanks seems like his usual excellent self, though at least once he does his patented bobble-head shiver, that look of incredulity in which his head shakes around somewhere between undulating and shuddering. What interested me in particular is that the movie is based on a book of the same name, which a little bit of research reveals is this (Spoiler Alert — talks about the plot):

Might have to pick that up before the movie comes out.

Anyway, there is a line in the trailer about 60% in that intrigued me. Tom Hanks says:

Yesterday, I believed I never would have done what I did today.

Isn’t that, like, the essence of every story ever told? Every good story anyway. Where a character is pushed to the limits — and beyond — of his or her physical capabilities, mental capacity, beliefs, etc. The things we do today that perhaps we never could have even imagined that sets us off on an adventure, welcomed or otherwise, and by its very nature changes our lives and perhaps even who we are.

I’m also drawn to the cadence of that sentence. I would have written it as, “I never would have believed yesterday that I would do what I did today.” But I like the not-me version so, so much better. I like that it starts with “Yesterday” and ends with “today”. I like that it states “I believed” rather than the rather more clichéd and negative “I never would have believed”. Now that I look at it too, the clichéd version has a rather weird grammatical structure. I’m sure there’s a name for it, but don’t know what it is — the “past-future tense” where you go back in time and say this is what I would have thought about the future. Except that since the future is already here, the point is rather moot, or at least grammatically awkward. But remembering back to yesterday, what I believed yesterday, has so much more impact — it’s a more forceful statement, because it is saying he did have a belief in this direction and now that’s changed — and is so much cleaner grammatically.

I don’t know. Read it over a few times and tell me if I’m still shaking out the weekend dust bunnies from my brain…

[/End boring grammatical analysis.]

In any case, I wanted to (a) bring your attention to that line and (b) bring your attention to the movie and book. I’m rather excited about it, which doesn’t happen anymore very often. Actually, I think the last great movie for me really was The English Patient (or Shakespeare in Love — whichever one came last), so if it does live up to its expectations, I’ll be well pleased.


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