Critical Essay "Atonement"

2556 WordsJul 26, 200811 Pages
‘ATONEMENT’ Joe Wright’s 2002 feature film ‘Atonement’, based on Ian McEwan’s 2002 critically acclaimed novel of the same name, masterfully adapted for the screen by Christopher Hampton, is at its heart about language and its power; about the way a lie told by a child – inspired by a letter not intended for her eyes – changes the lives of those who hear it; and how that child later longs to make things right again, to restore the indolent simplicity of that summer afternoon through the innocent sound of clicking keys. “A T O N E M E N T”, the letters comprising the word appear one after the other on the big screen as if typed on a typewriter, and are thus imprinted on the minds of the audience as confirmation of both the overarching…show more content…
In reality, she reveals, she never could summon the courage to see her sister and tell the truth. Robbie had died of HYPERLINK "" \o "Septicemia" septicemia on the last night of the HYPERLINK "" \o "Dunkirk evacuation" evacuation at Dunkirk ( HYPERLINK "" \o "June 1" 1 June HYPERLINK "" \o "1940" 1940), and Cecilia was HYPERLINK "" \o "Drowned" drowned in October of 1940, in the HYPERLINK "" \l "World_War_II" \o "Balham tube station" Balham tube station disaster during HYPERLINK "" \o "The Blitz" The Blitz. Briony expresses deep remorse and explains that this novel, to which she gave an ending different from the reality, had been her chance to give her sister and Robbie the hope and the happiness that they had deserved - and that she had stolen from them. The novel is, therefore, her atonement for the naïve but destructive acts of a thirteen year old child, which she has always regretted. The film closes with a scene of a simple, joyful moment that Cecilia and Robbie might have had, if things had played out differently. The background is taken from a postcard of an English cliff-side beach that
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