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Atonement (2007) Poster

(2007)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Cameo (1)  | Spoilers (3)
James McAvoy considered the script the best he had ever read.
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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 one thousand 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 this movie. 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.
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Only eight U.K. military ambulances from World War II remain, and this movie made use of them all.
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Director 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.
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In the DVD commentary, Director Joe Wright reveals a lucky fluke that got caught on camera during the scene just before Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) discovers the school girls' massacre. At the point where he removes his helmet, the weather was cloudy. As he looks up the sky, the sun started shining, and then got cloudy again the moment he put his head down.
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According to a BBC article, in order to achieve one aspect of this movie's extraordinary visual style, Christian Dior stockings were stretched over the camera lens to achieve a soft focus.
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Saoirse Ronan was only twelve-years-old when this production began shooting and turned thirteen by the time she received her first Oscar nomination.
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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 this movie, costing an estimated one million pounds sterling.
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The green dress which Keira Knightley wore in this movie 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).
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Briony's appearance next to the stained glass window featuring Saint Matilda may also be a reference to the Saint's status as the patron of falsely accused people.
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On the DVD commentary, Director Joe Wright notes that the designer of Keira Knightley's green evening dress 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.
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This was the opening movie of 2007's Venice Film Festival. Director Joe Wright, at thirty-five, is the youngest director to have a movie open this prestigious event.
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Director Joe Wright conducted three weeks of rehearsals beforehand, ensuring that by the time the cameras rolled, all of the actors and actresses were comfortable with their characters and the environment(s) they inhabited.
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The movie playing in the Dunkirk theater is Port of Shadows (1938), whose plot concerns a deserting soldier trying to get out of France.
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It took about three weeks to prepare the beach and sea front area, having all street furniture removed, tons of sand brought in to cover the promenade, road, and pavement, boarding up of all sea facing windows and installation of a ferris wheel, bandstand, and Army vehicles, et cetera. After nearly a week of rehearsals for the extras, actors and crew, then the actual filming, it took over two weeks to put everything back to normal, all for five minutes of screentime.
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Keira Knightley is three years younger than Romola Garai, but played her older sister.
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Local government in Redcar gave permission for a bandstand to be erected and for a shipwreck to be placed on the beach for authenticity. Several 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.
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Richard Eyre was originally attached to direct. However, as time passed, he became busy with another movie and stage play. He and the producers decided that, if they could find a director of whom they all approved, he would hand the project over. Joe Wright was found.
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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."
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Since "Atonement" is a novel about novels, it shouldn't be a surprise that it was based on another novel. Specifically, author Ian McEwan cribbed the plot in part from Henry James' "What Maisie Knew", another story about a child who gets involved in an adult sexual relationship that she doesn't understand.
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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 Writer, Producer, and Director Peter Jackson.
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For scoring, Dario Marianelli reconvened key Pride & Prejudice (2005) collaborators, including - to perform the score he composed - the English Chamber Orchestra.
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Romola Garai shot her scenes in four days.
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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.
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Filming of this movie's three sections was done almost entirely in sequence.
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The locals of Redcar, who served as extras in the Dunkirk scene, were paid fifty pounds sterling.
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The actress that played Robbie's mother also played Keira Knightley's mother in Pride & Prejudice (2005): Brenda Blethyn.
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This was the last HD DVD release by Universal Pictures.
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Post-production took nine months.
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The Dunkirk street scenes and generator room scenes were filmed on Grimsby Docks.
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Abbie Cornish was considered for the role of Briony Tallis, aged 18, but backed out due to scheduling conflicts with Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007).
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Saoirse Ronan received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance as Briony Tallis. She was only thirteen at the time.
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Release prints were delivered to theaters with the fake title "Saturday" - the title of another Ian McEwan novel.
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The script was written by Christopher Hampton instead of the book's author Ian McEwan, as the latter said it would be "a little dull" to go redo the novel.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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The 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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Director Joe Wright imagined that Cecilia would not be sexually experienced and losing her virginity to Robbie in the library scene, even though a historian informed him that given the time, place, and her background, she probably would have been sexually active during her college years.
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John Normington, a veteran of stage and screen, has a minor role as a vicar, but sadly died before the U.K. release.
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Emily Watson and Dame Kristin Scott Thomas were approached to play Emily Tallis.
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Director Joe Wright had the name Cyndie, which is his mother's name, painted on the beached barge.
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Joe Wright was apparently so impressed by Sir David Lean's epic work that he screened most of it before making this movie, and then instructed Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey also to watch Lean's oeuvre, with the hope of being able to match some of Lean's power. Lean's widow Sandra Lean, however, 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."
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The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to not be nominated for Best Director.
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Vanessa Redgrave (Older Briony) is the former mother-in-law of Executive Producer Robert Fox, as he was married to her daughter Natasha Richardson from 1990 to 1992.
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The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be also nominated for Best Costume Design.
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The only movie that year to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but not at the Producers Guild of America Awards.
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This is the first movie of Benedict Cumberbatch set during World War II. The second was The Imitation Game (2014).
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Tobias Menzies, Alfie Allen, and Nonso Anozie appeared on Game of Thrones (2011).
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Saoirse Ronan starred in On Chesil Beach (2017), also adapted from a novel by Ian McEwan.
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The film shown in the Dunkirk theater as Robbie roams in from the beach is "Le Quai des Brumes" (Port of Shadows), made in 1938 and starring Jean Gabin and Michele Morgan.
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Director Cameo 

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

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

As Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) is hauled off by the Police and his mother frantically yells "liar" while running up the road, Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) peers from a staircase landing through a window decorated with figures in stained glass. The figure in the window Briony stares through is labelled "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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In the DVD commentary, Director Joe Wright said for the assault scene, he instructed Benedict Cumberbatch to leave his underwear on. A digital butt was then added to make it appear that Cumberbatch does have his underwear down and his bare behind showing.
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Keira Knightley stated in an interview with Graham Norton that when she and James McAvoy filmed the love scene in which their characters have sex against a bookshelf, that a voice was heard during filming shouting "Keira! Wank him off!" to which Knightley had replied "Okay! No problem."
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