The film consists of six interrelated and interwoven stories spanning different time periods: an 1849 diary of an ocean voyage across the Pacific; letters from a composer to his friend in the 1930s; a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant set in the 1970s; a farce about a publisher in a nursing home in the present day; a rebellious clone in a futuristic Korea; and the tale of a tribe living in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii, far in the future.
The first storyline follows a lawyer named Adam Ewing, whose family is in the slave trade. He has been sent to the Pacific to arrange a contract for some Maori slaves with a slave trader from that area. While on the island he passes a group of native women – including one heavily-tattooed older woman played by Halle Berry – on his way to a village where he witnesses the whipping of a Moriori slave, Autua; later Autua escapes and stows away on the ship on which Ewing is travelling home. Ewing helps Autua to be accepted as a member of the crew and Autua saves Ewing from poisoning. Adam Ewing’s journal which chronicles his ordeal and rescue by a runaway slave are later published into a book which is discovered by the next character in the storyline.
A number of members of the cast played multiple characters. Halle Berry appeared in all six segments playing a radically different character in each: in two segments her character was a leading role; in another she played a supporting character; in the other three segments, as here, she had non-speaking cameos.
Jeremy Woodhead & Daniel Parker were the hair makeup designers; Kuno Schlegelmilch was credited for makeup concept; Siân Richards was Halle Berry’s personal makeup artist. An army of makeup effects artists & studios worked on sculpting, making & applying the various character prosthetics in the movie including: Filmefex, Animated Extras, Valentina Visintin, Barney Nikolic, Göran Lundström of (EffektStudion), Creatures Inc, Floris Schuller, Pepe Mora …
One artist was offered work on the movie by three different FX companies in different countries.
The tattoos were Tinsley transfers.
Siân Richards said in an interview:
When Halle came on set as Older Native, Andy and Lana just loved it and John Toll the DP came up to me and hugged me saying ‘Nice Job Kid!’.