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Rory Book Discussions > Atonement - The Movie

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message 1: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments I watched the movie last night. I thought overall it was pretty faithful to the book. I'm not thinking maybe I won't finish my second reading. Has anybody else seen and read it? What did you think?

message 2: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I'm going this afternoon. I'll let you know! I've heard that it's pretty faithful to the book.

message 3: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Oops, I meant to say I'm *now* thinking I won't finish my second reading.

message 4: by Sarah (last edited Jan 27, 2008 08:12PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I loved it! I liked it so much better than the book. I thought it was beautifully shot, very faithful to the story, and James McAvoy was amazing. The book never moved me one way or the other, but there were several emotional moments in the film. Another thing I thought was really well done was the music and soundtrack. I love, love, love the sound of the typewriter keys punctuating the music.

I have to say though, although I understand that they were trying to keep some continuity with the 3 actresses who played Briony, it's kind of strange that Briony wouldn't change her hair style in 64 years.

It was so funny... after the movie I went in to the bathroom and hearing people's comments about the ending was hysterical. One ol' biddy was going on and on about how terrible it was. And they didn't like the way it went back and forth in time to show the different perspectives, either, which is a part that I loved.

message 5: by Anna (new)

Anna (anna_rose_reads) I just saw this yesterday. I loved it. I want to go read the book now.

I would total agree with you Sarah, I thought that the change perspectives was wonderful. It is so rare to see that in a film, but I thought that it added so much depth to the viewer's understanding.

message 6: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments I thought that in the movie they were definitely showing that Lol(it)a was flirting with Paul in the nursery. How much input did McEwan have in the screenplay?

message 7: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
I haven't watched it, but I've read that McEwan is one of the executive producers so I guess he must have some say on it.

message 8: by Steven (new)

Steven | 5 comments This movie was filmed a short distance from where I live. They really did transform the town they filmed it in during the shooting fazes.

Please can someone tell me if the book is better than the movie or vice versa?


Steven Preece
Author of
Amongst The Marines
Always A Marine

message 9: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I thought the movie was better, and that's really unusual for me. The movie could show without telling, so the descriptions weren't tedious as they were in the book. The story itself is very faithful with only tiny changes. I liked how the movie kept little details from the book in, like Briony's miniature animals all facing the same way, Robbie putting his shoes back on at the front door, Cecelia turning her head during the scene in the library, Briony striggling to carry a stretcher, etc.

This is probably one of the most faithful adaptations I've ever seen.

message 10: by Meghan (new)

Meghan I just read a reviewer's take on Atonement and they said that the ending was a big disappointment as it wasn't faithful to the book. What's your take on that?

message 11: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) It was faithful to the book with only small exceptions.


The end of the movie doesn't take place at Briony's birthday party. Instead Briony (Vanessa Redgrave) is giving an interview about her latest - and final, because she's dying - book, Atonement. The interviewer asks her how autobiographical it is and she says it's wholly autobiographical, and she didn't even change the names. The only thing she changed was the scene where she goes to visit Cecelia because in reality, that never happened, because Robbie and Cecelia both died in 1940 (then there are a couple of short flashbacks to show how it happened). But, she asks, what hope is that to give a reader? Since she never was able to give Robbie and Cecelia their life together in reality, she wanted to give it to them in fiction. It's her only chance at atonement and her gift to their memories. Then as she speaks in voice over, you see Robbie and Cecelia at the coast cottage that they'd talked about in their letters.

So I'd say the only differences are no birthday party, the made-up scene with Robbie and Cecelia at the beach, and the fact that Briony was able to publish the book in her lifetime.

message 12: by K (new)

K I thought the film was just wonderful.

message 13: by Cristalle (new)

Cristalle | 7 comments I just saw this film on Wed and thought it was amazing- I have yet to read the book (I joined this book club too late) and actually prefer to watch a film before reading the book, generally. I find that if I read the book first, the film never lives up to the way I envision the book, or that they leave out little details that I love most during reading. I intend on reading the book now, though.

I did find the Briony haircut bit pretty funny, as well, Sarah.

message 14: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Did anyone else notice they had all the Brionys have a mole on their faces, too? I wonder if any of the three had a real mole.

message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I think the youngest one did, and so they gave one to the others for continuity.

message 16: by Hippo dari Hongkong (last edited Feb 15, 2008 10:06PM) (new)

Hippo dari Hongkong | 74 comments Robbie.. I do know that Romola Garai (Briony age 18) doesn't have a mole, I don't know bout Vanessa Redgrave, and I think i agree with Sarah that Saoirse Ronan (Briony age 13) does have the real mole. And they all have the same haircut from age of 13 to 77!
I haven't read the book yet, though i'd been ransacking all bookstores in my hometown. Sigh.

message 17: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments Still haven't seen Atonement yet, but I'm currently watching and enjoying the film Becoming Jane. I thought it was interesting that the actor who plays Jane Austen's love interest also plays Robbie in Atonement.

message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) OK, now I'm not sure about the mole, because in this picture, it doesn't look like Saoirse Ronan has one.

message 19: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Yeah, I noticed that, too. I miss the "party" last night, but I always look at the red carpet stills the next day.

message 20: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Erie, you can have mine. Seriously. I got mine free in a book swap.

Hippo dari Hongkong | 74 comments So.. who has the real mole? Romola didn't have it either. So it must be Vanessa Redgave who has the real mole.

Meghan, that was very sweet, thoughtful and lovely. Thank you :)
Actually I'm reading this book now (borrow from a friend)
Once a again, thank you... :)

message 22: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Okay, here's the scoop on the whole mole issue (and yes, none of the actresses in real life have a mole):

Director Joe Wright is "often described as "meticulous", he seems to have overseen every aesthetic choice in Atonement, from the wallpaper of the Tallis family home ("ripe, pattern over pattern") to the shape of the mole painted on the character Briony's face, a visual innovation that isn't in the book. "It's a device to tie together the three actresses playing her [Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave]. I also liked the idea that she was marked since birth, and that the mole looks a little bit like a teardrop."

message 23: by Erica (new)

Erica Poole | 199 comments Oh my gosh! I hated that stupid haircut by the time it got to Vanessa Redgrave! That was the only part of the movie that bugged me! Ha!

Hi Meghan! Miss ya!!!! :)

Hippo dari Hongkong | 74 comments What? nobody has a real mole?
I've been "fooled" again by Briony :)

message 25: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments Finally got a chance to watch this and wasn't disappointed - it was a great adaptation. I think I still prefer the book though. The pace of the story seems better suited to print imo, a bit slow for film.

Not at all surprised that this got Best Score, though I think it could have gotten Best Cinematography as well.

Meghan - thanks for the details on the mole. that's pretty interesting.

message 26: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) That's funny, Heather. I felt the opposite. I thought the pace was better in the film because I didn't have to wade through twenty pages describing Emily's headache or three pages of Briony looking at her finger.

message 27: by Shannon, the founder of fun (back from sabbatical) (new)

Shannon | 254 comments Mod
I finally saw this over the weekend. What a beautiful film. And I have to say I loved the green dress Keira Knightley was wearing - so gorgeous.

The movie really brought the characters to life for me. The scenes in the fountain and the library were very hot and much more exciting than in my imagination - lol.... But I don't think you really get the full kick in the gut that you do in the novel. Overall I really like the movie - it was lovely eye candy!

message 28: by Arielle (new)

Arielle | 120 comments The movie is great so far (I'm only in the war part), it's wonderfully acted, but is anyone else thoroughly creeped out by young Briony? She seems to enjoy lurking in places and skulking around corners and dark areas...and she walks lurchy!! ~ I know, that's not really a word :-)
I know that she has to do some of that as her character was very observant and watchful, so maybe the young actress is just that good! In that case, bravo!

message 29: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
So I finally got to watch this movie over the weekend, and loved it. My fears that it will dwell heavily on the fact that Briony once had a crush on Robbie and make it look like she accused him out of shallow jealousy was unproven. I went with my little sis, who hasn't read the book, and she liked it as well. Like many of you, I also loved the cinematography and typewriter musical effect. The continuous one-shot scene with the soldiers at the beach was amazing -- I wonder how many takes it took to get it right?

Romola Garai seemed to me a bit too old to be 18-year-old Briony -- not to mention she's bigger than Keira Knightley. But excellent cast in general. Of course both my sister and I now have a crush on James McAvoy. "I love you, come back!"

Hippo dari Hongkong | 74 comments Ha! another McAvoy fans ;P
Dini, I suggest you to see Becoming Jane then, hehe...

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