Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Atonement (2007)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Atonement (2007, US/UK)

In director Joe Wright's epic war film of thwarted romance over a period of six decades:

  • the three scenes of fantasy-prone 13 year-old Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) witnessing and misunderstanding sex in 1935 - with long-lasting consequences:

    (1) between lithe older sister Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) and her 'secret' boyfriend, servant/cook son Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) when Cecilia was at an outdoor fountain and dove underwater to retrieve a broken piece of a family heirloom vase - and emerged almost naked in front of Robbie with her soaked and transparent dress

    (2) their passionate love-making scene against the stacks in the library

    (3) the 'rape' scene between house-guest Paul Marshall (Benedict Cumberpatch) and her 15 year-old cousin Lola Quincey (Juno Temple) - all acts Briony misunderstood with unfortunate circumstances, by wrongly accusing Robbie of 'raping' Lola

  • the bravura extended tracking shot (5 minutes and 30 seconds) of Robbie walking along the French beach during the Dunkirk evacuation - where stranded show horses were being executed, as the camera glided down the beach (amidst a beached barge and a spinning ferris wheel) and then around a choir of wounded infantrymen, and ended finally in a bar
  • at film's end, the interview scene with older, terminally-ill (with vascular dementia) novelist Briony (Vanessa Redgrave) about her latest and last book - an autobiographical work titled Atonement - when she confessed as an act of penance that much of the end portion of the novel was fabricated and imaginary about their reconciliation, since both Robbie and Cecilia died during the war (Robbie died of a sepsis infection, and Cecilia drowned in a tube station bombing)
Older Novelist Briony (Vanessa Redgrave): Her Confession
Her Novel's Fabricated Happy Ending
  • the final idealized scene of the lovers cavorting on the beach near a beach house, as Briony stated: "So in the book, I wanted to give Robbie and Cecilia what they lost out on in life. I'd like to think this isn't weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness. I gave them their happiness"

Sexy Fountain Scene

Library Love-Making Against Stacks

Robbie Wrongly Accused of 'Raping' Lola

Young Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan): Her Fanciful Accusatory Imagination

Dunkirk Evacuation Scene


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