Atonement (2007) Poster



Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Spoilers (1)
James McAvoy considered the script the best he had ever read.
Shooting the five minute Dunkirk beach scene was arguably the toughest portion of shooting. The shooting schedule dictated that the scene must be completed in two days, because the crew has limited time with the 1,000 extras. However the location scouts report indicated the lighting quality at the beach was not good enough until the afternoon of the second day. This forced director Joe Wright to change his shooting strategy into shooting with one camera. The scene was rehearsed on the first day and on the morning of the second day. The scene required five takes and the third take was used in the film. On shooting, Steadicam operator Peter Robertson shot the scene by riding on a small tracking vehicle, walking off to a bandstand after rounding a boat, moved to a ramp, stepped onto a rickshaw, finally dismounting and moving past the pier into a bar.
Only eight U.K. military ambulances from WWII remain, and Atonement made use of them all.
Saoirse Ronan was only 12-years-old when this production began shooting and turned 13 by the time she received her first Oscar nomination.
According to a BBC article, in order to achieve one aspect of the film's extraordinary visual style, Christian Dior stockings were stretched over the camera lens to achieve a soft focus.
Briony's appearance next to the stained glass window featuring Saint Matilda, may also be a reference to the saint's status as patron of falsely accused people.
On the DVD commentary, director Joe Wright notes that the designer of Keira Knightley's green evening dress costume deliberately kept the seam down the middle of the skirt open (where it would normally be sewn shut in a dress design) for what Wright calls "easy access" in the library scene.
Joe Wright had wanted Keira Knightley to play the role of Briony in her late teens, but Knightley immediately liked the character of Cecilia, and also wanted to get away from playing girls on the brink of womanhood and play a more mature character for once.
The green dress which Keira Knightley wore in the film has been named "the best of all time" by InStyle magazine, exceeding some classics as Audrey Hepburn's little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Marilyn Monroe's white dress in The Seven Year Itch (1955) or Vivien Leigh's red dress from Gone with the Wind (1939).
Before this movie was even released, Saoirse Ronan had already been cast in The Lovely Bones (2009) based solely on a compelling audition DVD she'd sent director Peter Jackson.
Keira Knightley is 3 years younger than Romola Garai but played her older sister.
The opening film of the 2007's Venice Film Festival. Director Joe Wright, at 35, is the youngest director to have a film open this prestigious event.
The small English town of Redcar stood in for the French city of Dunkirk, and the Dunkirk set built there was the most expensive one in the film, costing an estimated 1 million pounds.
Local government in Redcar gave permission for a bandstand to be erected and for a shipwreck to be placed on the beach for authenticity. A number of houses along the beach front were painted to suit the era. The cinema, which looked the part already, merely had an advertisement painted on the side of the building to complete the set dressing. Everything was undone after filming was complete and Redcar seafront now looks like a normal seaside town again.
In one early scene, Paul Marshall says that army conscription is inevitable "if Herr Hitler doesn't pipe down, and he's about as likely to do that as buy shares in Marks and Spencers". British retail chain Marks and Spencer was co-founded by Jewish immigrant Michael Marks, and many senior-management staff have been members of his family; Jews were the ethnic group which was the prime target of Adolf Hitler's genocidal purges.
The movie playing in the Dunkirk theater is Port of Shadows (1938), whose plot concerns a deserting soldier trying to get out of France.
Joe Wright conducted three weeks of rehearsals beforehand, ensuring that by the time the cameras rolled all the actors were comfortable with their characters and the environment(s) they inhabited.
Romola Garai shot her scenes in 4 days.
For scoring, Dario Marianelli reconvened key Pride & Prejudice (2005) collaborators, including - to perform the score he composed - the English Chamber Orchestra.
Vanessa Redgrave noted that "Saoirse Ronan and Romola Garai and I did some improvisations on body language, among other things, for Briony. Joe - who is brilliant with actors - was able to pick and choose what he wanted focused on during the filming."
Filming of the film's three sections was done almost entirely in sequence.
Release prints were delivered to theaters with the fake title 'Saturday' - the title of another Ian McEwan novel.
The locals of Redcar, who served as extras in the Dunkirk scene, were paid 50 pounds.
The actress that plays Robbie's mother also plays Keira Knightley's mother in Pride and Prejudice.
This was the last HD DVD release by Universal Studios.
Abbie Cornish was considered for the role of Briony - 18 years old but backed out due to scheduling conflicts with Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007).
Richard Eyre was originally attached to direct the project. However, as time passed he became busy with another film project and stage play. The producers and himself decided that, if they could find a director they all approved of, he would hand the project over. Joe Wright was found.
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Post-production took nine months.
The Dunkirk street scenes and generator room scenes were filmed on Grimsby Docks.
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The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Vanessa Redgrave and Anthony Minghella; and four Oscar nominees: Keira Knightley, Brenda Blethyn, Saoirse Ronan and Benedict Cumberbatch.
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Both Emily Watson and Kristin Scott Thomas were approached to play Emily Tallis.
John Normington who has a minor role as a vicar, died before British release.
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Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch also appeared in The Imitation Game (2014). Both films received several Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) and end up winning in one category.
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This is the first movie of Cumberbatch set during World War II. The second was The Imitation Game.
According to Sandra Lean, widow of legendary filmmaker Sir David Lean - Joe Wright was apparently so impressed by Sir David's epic work that he screened most of it before making Atonement, and then instructed cinematographer Seamus McGarvey to also watch Lean's oeuvre, with the hope of being able to match some of the director's power. Ultimately however, Lady Lean felt she 'just didn't like the movie. I thought it was terrible and badly directed. Everyone goes on about the long shot of the beach at Dunkirk, but I thought it was boring and laborious.' Obviously they were trying to get the feel of a David Lean epic but they failed. Without David, it's not so easy.'
Vanessa Redgrave (Older Briony) is the former mother-in-law of the producer Robert Fox as he was married to her daughter Natasha Richardson from 1992 to 1994.
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Director Cameo 

Joe Wright:  Appears during the lengthy tracking sequence on Dunkirk beach.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

As Robbie is hauled off by the police and his mother frantically yells "liar" while running up the road, Briony peers from a staircase landing through a window decorated with figures in stained glass. The figure in the window Briony stares through is labeled Matilda. This is an allusion to a famous children's poem by Hilaire Belloc entitled "Matilda", whose first line runs, "Matilda told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch one's eyes". By the end of the poem, Matilda has burned to death, having called wolf one time too many.

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