This movie looks epic. And by that I mean epically good or epically bad. I don't think there will be a middle ground here.
From what I'm gathering, it reflects a very Hindu metaphysics of Dharma (your moral duty), Karma (the justice you incur from following or abandoning that duty), and Samsara (the wheel of rebirth which pays out the Karma).
I used to teach a world religions class and I think that this film would be a good example of it.
I admit I was confused and intrigued. First of all, the trailer is more than twice as long as a normal trailer. Second it has an eclectic cast. Third, its from the Matrix guys who have made nothing but crap since Matrix Revolutions.
But the trailer has me very curious. I looked up the plot summary of the book from Wikipedia. It goes as such:
The novel consists of six nested stories that take the reader from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or observed) by the main character in the next. All stories but the last are interrupted at some moment, and after the sixth story concludes at the center of the book, the novel "goes back" in time, "closing" each story as the book progresses in terms of pages but regresses in terms of the historical period in which the action takes place. Eventually, readers end where they started, with Adam Ewing in the Pacific Ocean, circa 1850.
The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing
Pacific Ocean, circa 1850. Adam Ewing, an American notary's account of a voyage home from the remote Chatham Islands, east of New Zealand. The next character discovers this story as a diary on his patron's bookshelf.
Letters from Zedelghem
Zedelgem, Belgium, 1931. Robert Frobisher, a penniless young English musician, finds work as an amanuensis to a composer living in Belgium. This story is saved in the form of letters to his friend (and implied lover) Rufus Sixsmith, which the next character discovers after meeting Sixsmith.
Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery.
Buenas Yerbas, California, 1975. Luisa Rey, a journalist, investigates reports of corruption and murder at a nuclear power plant. The next character is sent this story in the mail, in the form of a manuscript for a novel.
The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish
United Kingdom, early 21st century. Timothy Cavendish, a vanity press publisher, flees the brothers of his gangster client. He gets confined against his will in a nursing home from which he cannot escape. The next character watches a movie dramatisation of this story.
An Orison of Sonmi~451
Nea So Copros (Korea), dystopian near future. Sonmi~451, a genetically-engineered fabricant (clone) server at Papa Song's diner (a proxy for large fast-dining chains), is interviewed before her execution after she rebels against the capitalist totalitarian society that created and exploited her kind. The next character watches Sonmi's story projected holographically in an "orison," a futuristic recording device.
Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After
Hawaii, post-apocalyptic distant future. Zachry, a tribesman living a primitive life after most of humanity dies during "the Fall," is visited by Meronym, a member of the last remnants of technologically-advanced civilization. This story is told when the protagonist is an old man, to seemingly random strangers around a campfire.
I don't know if the movie will match the structure, but it is nothing if not ambitious.