While the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer already got their Cloud Atlas down to a tight two hours and 52 minutes, they forgot to excise much of the scenes that depict lovemaking not in service of fathering a male heir, and so Chinese censors were forced to step in and do that for them. According to Yahoo News, the deleted material “consisted mostly of exposition”—which, in the unedited American version, proved a real drag on the otherwise zippy pseudo-philosophizing—as well as various “passionate love scenes,” passion being a Western construct that distracts from productivity. Most importantly, even more so than the horrible Asian-face makeup, apparently, anything hinting at the gay love affair between Ben Whishaw and James D’Arcy’s characters was cut, turning that entire chapter into a story about a guy who helps a funny old composer write a song and then has dinner. The End.
It’s the second such case of high-profile censoring in China this week, following cuts made to Skyfall that removed any reference to the existence of prostitution in Shanghai or torture by the Chinese government, along with a scene in which a French hitman kills a Chinese security guard—this despite the Chinese government not officially recognizing the right of its citizens to die. In both instances, the cast and crew of each film gladly showed up to promotional junkets in Beijing, with the Wachowskis and Tykwer—who had no say in their movie being chopped up by censors, and weren’t even made aware of it until the premiere—telling Chinese media they were fine with it, really, ha ha, please go see it. Although Lana Wachowski did say to reporters, “It sucks, really. But I believe you can watch the full version online,” her statement that was no doubt immediately struck from all footage of the event.