I like to think that it isn’t weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness, a stand against oblivion and despair, to let my lovers live and to unite them at the end.
-Ian McEwan, Atonement.
I wish that some of the reviewers of Atonement had really considered the full implications of Briony’s final words, both in the film and in the novel. After reading negative reviews of the film, I expected to be disappointed when I saw it. But I wasn’t. I have to respectfully disagree with these reviews. Atonement is actually very self-conscious and intricately made. I like how every image in the film comes in corresponding pairs, how it utilises the symbolism of water in often interesting ways and how it foregrounds the function of writing.
Despite the obvious questions raised by the film about the role of the writer, the relationship between fiction and reality and the importance of storytelling, I was primarily drawn to the theme of water. Have you noticed how it runs throughout the film? One of my favourite scenes is linked to this theme, in which Cecilia dives into water and Robbie in turn emerges from a bathtub, only to stare longingly at a plane that passes before his eyes above. It’s such a haunting image of desire, longing and death. It seems fitting that Cecilia dies devoured by water in “real” life. I know there is so much more to this symbolism which I can uncover.
Since this is a film that I’ve seen featured on many blogs, I’m assuming that most people have seen it, so I’m hoping you’ll share your opinions with me. What did you think about the film? Have you read the book, and if so, how did it compare in your mind? What was your favourite scene?