Atonement (film)

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German title Apology
Original title Atonement
Atonement Kinoplakat.svg
Country of production United Kingdom
original language English
Publishing year 2007
length 118 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
JMK 12
Director Joe Wright
script Christopher Hampton
production Tim Bevan ,
Eric Fellner ,
Ian McEwan ,
Paul Webster
music Dario Marianelli
camera Seamus McGarvey
cut Paul Tothill

Atonement (original title Atonement ) is a British film drama from the year 2007 . Directed by Joe Wright , the screenplay was written by Christopher Hampton based on the novel by Ian McEwan .

The film consists of three parts linked by flashbacks. They played in an English country estate in the mid-1930s, in 1939/1940 in London during World War II and in the Franco-Belgian war zone, and in a television studio in the late 1990s. It tells of a fateful misunderstanding and its tragic consequences for two daughters from a wealthy family and the protégé of the family.


First part

On an English country estate on a summer's day in 1935: 13-year-old Briony Tallis wants to become a writer, she uses the typewriter to write the manuscript for her first play: “The Visions of Arabella”. From the window of her room she watches as her older sister Cecilia stands in underwear, indignant and completely soaked by the fountain in the garden. The housekeeper’s son, Robbie Turner, is there, and the sisters’s father finances his studies. Briony thinks the situation is unheard of.

The viewer then sees the same scene from the perspective of those directly involved: Cecilia has picked flowers for her brother Leon, who is expected with a friend, and has gone to the park to fill a valuable porcelain vase for the flowers. Robbie does gardening there, and so the two of them go to the well together; There the vase is destroyed by an accident Robbies, the main part falls into the well. Annoyed, Cecilia quickly takes off her summer dress, jumps into the fountain and takes out the rest of the vase. Then she stands soaked and in her undergarment in front of Robbie, who shamefully averts his gaze, dresses again and runs back into the house.

Leon and his friend, the chocolate manufacturer Paul Marshall, arrive. Against Cecilia's request, Leon insists that Robbie be invited to dinner as well. Paul Marshall flirts with Lola, the still adolescent cousin of the Tallis siblings.

Robbie writes a letter to Cecilia by hand, in which he apologizes for his mishap. On another piece of paper he types out his sexual ideas about Cecilia in unequivocal terms. However, only the letter is intended for Cecilia. But he accidentally puts the wrong sheet of paper in the envelope and hands it to Briony on the way to dinner to have it delivered to Cecilia. However, Briony, curious about the situation at the fountain, opens the envelope and reads the sheet. She hands the opened letter to Cecilia.

Before dinner, there is a discussion between Cecilia and Robbie. Both confess their love to each other in the library, they let their attraction for each other run free until they have secret sex. But they are discovered by chance by the jealous Briony, who has long had a secret love for Robbie. When their twin cousins ​​run away in the evening because they feel harassed by their older sister, Paul Marshall suggests a search operation in which everyone takes part. Briony also searches the area with a lamp. Here she again surprises a copulating couple; the man runs away. The girl is Lola, who explains that she doesn't know who attacked her. Briony told the police, who were called quickly, that Robbie was the culprit she was sure to recognize. Briony's mother praises her for her testimony, while Cecilia tells the police not to believe everything her sister says. Only Danny, the slightly moronic son of a domestic servant, is interrogated as a further suspect, but he can show an alibi. While the investigation continues, Robbie returns with the twins he found in the search. He is arrested and driven away.

Second part

At the beginning of World War II, Robbie, who was in prison, was given the choice of either continuing to serve his sentence or serving as a soldier in the British Army. Robbie decides to do military service. Shortly before the mission, he meets Cecilia in a café in London. As a goodbye, she gives him a postcard showing a house by the sea where they could later spend their holidays. Robbie takes part in the fight against the German Wehrmacht in Europe as part of the British expeditionary force . In France, Robbie is separated from his squad and makes his way with two comrades to the coast of Dunkirk , where thousands of soldiers wait for their transport home after the battle .

Briony, who has become aware of the tragic consequences of her testimony to the police at the time, is training as a student nurse, Cecilia is serving as a volunteer nurse in London and has broken off contact with her family.

In a flashback, the film depicts Briony's crush on Robbie. While swimming together, Briony asks him if he would save her if she fell into the water. As soon as Robbie has assured her of this, she already jumps into the pond. Robbie gets her out of the water, but then reproaches her and walks away angrily.

In a newsreel film , Briony learns that her cousin Lola and Paul Marshall are engaged. She goes to church for the wedding. Suddenly, Brionys realized in a flash that it was Paul Marshall who raped Lola and not Robbie. After the wedding, she tracks down Cecilia and goes to her apartment, where she also meets Robbie. Briony pleads for forgiveness. Robbie demands that she write down the true version of this story as a written testimony and submit it. Briony promises and goes.

third part

Briony Tallis repented for the rest of her life. She becomes a successful novelist. Throughout her life she tried to put the story about the events on paper. She now completes this, although she has modified the ending, as she confesses to the presenter in a television program. Robbie and Cecilia survive the war and live happy lives in the story that will be her last novel due to their illness with vascular dementia . They spend their holidays at the seaside at the house whose picture Cecilia Robbie had given to the war. With this fictional ending, Briony tries to help Cecilia and Robbie to see each other again and to achieve the happiness that their deed did not grant them during their lifetime. In fact, Robbie died of blood poisoning in Dunkirk on June 1, 1940, a few hours before being transported to England, with the picture of the house by the sea. Cecilia drowned on October 15, 1940, when a German aerial bomb hit the water and sewer pipes in the so-called "Blitz" and the masses of water flooded the London subway station Balham , where she had fled from the air raids. Thus it becomes clear that the encounter in which Briony asks for forgiveness from Cecilia and Robbie only took place in Briony's imagination and Robbie had never returned from Dunkirk. There has never been reconciliation or forgiveness.


role actor German Voice actor
Robbie Turner James McAvoy Johannes Raspe
Cecilia Tallis Keira Knightley Dascha Lehmann
Briony Tallis, 13 years Saoirse Ronan Stella Sommerfeld
Briony Tallis, 18 years Romola Garai Maren Rainer
Briony Tallis, 77 years Vanessa Redgrave Doris Gallart
Paul Marshall Benedict Cumberbatch Christian Weygand
Fiona Michelle Duncan Marieke Oeffinger


The film was shot in the United Kingdom - including London - from May 2006 to August 2006. The three sections of the film were shot almost entirely in the order in which they are ultimately shown in the film. The post-production required a further nine months.

The shots of the Tallishaus, the garden with the fountain and the pond were taken in Stokesay Court , a Victorian country house near the village of Onibury in Shropshire . The 1939 tea house scene with the reunion of Cecilia and Robbie was created in the Bethnal Green Town Hall in Whitehall , a street in the government district of Westminster . The kiss and farewell scene, in which Robbie and Cecilia saw each other alive for the last time, was filmed on Great Scotland Yard in Westminster. Streatham Hill in South London was available as a location for Balham . Lola's wedding scene was shot in St. John's Church in Westminster, London. The former Piccadilly Line station Aldwych , which has been used as a filming location in various films, served as the backdrop for Balham underground station, where Cecilia died. The Dunkirk beach scene was created in Redcar , a town of 33,000 near Middlesbrough in North Yorkshire , and cost around £ 1 million . The recordings in the steelworks were also made in Redcar. The hinterland shots of northern France that preceded the beach scene were taken in Gedney Drove Ends ( Lincolnshire ), Denver ( Norfolk ), Coates and Pymore ( Cambridgeshire ).

The corridor shots of St. Thomas Hospital were made in the Park Place manor house , a former school near Henley-on-Thames in the county of Berkshire , the remaining interior shots in Shepperton Studios . The exterior shots of the hospital were taken at University College London .

The interview with 77-year-old Briony was shot entirely in the BBC television center on Wood Line in London. The final beach scene of Cecilia and Robbie fooling around with the steep coast in the background was filmed by the Seven Sisters , more precisely at the Cuckmere Haven stretch of beach in Sussex , near the larger canal port town of Eastbourne . The cottage in front of the cliff, a central element as a postcard motif in the film, actually houses lifeboats.

The production cost of the film amounted to about 30 million US dollars . Its world premiere opened on August 29th at the 2007 Venice Film Festival , with director Joe Wright at the age of 35 being the youngest director to receive this honor. It opened in UK theaters on September 7, 2007, where it grossed around £ 9.7 million by October 7, 2007 . On September 10, 2007, the film was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival , which was followed by several other festival screenings. The cinema release in Germany and Switzerland was on November 8, 2007, in Austria one day later. The film opened in the United States on December 7, 2007, where it grossed almost $ 800,000 and a total of almost $ 51 million on the opening weekend. On the opening weekend, almost 700,000 euros were posted in Germany and almost 175,000 Swiss francs in Switzerland . The total income in Germany was just under 1.35 million euros, while in Austria around 162,000 euros were earned and revenues of over 102 million US dollars were generated worldwide. At the German box office, almost 400,000 viewers were counted by the end of 2007. The film was the last production released on HD-DVD by Universal Studios .

For the role of Emily Tallis, which was eventually played by Harriet Walter , initially Emily Watson and Kristin Scott Thomas were in conversation. The 18-year-old Briony was supposed to be played by Abbie Cornish , who had to turn it down due to the simultaneous filming of " Elizabeth - The Golden Kingdom ". Even Keira Knightley was at the request of Joe Wright , the role of 18-year-old Briony take over, but identified himself immediately with the role of Cecilia in which they can be seen in the film. Keira Knightley was three years younger than Romola Garai , but played her older sister. The scenes with Romola Garai were shot within four days.

Originally Richard Eyre was to take over the direction, who could not take over the order due to time overlaps with other filming. The producers then appointed director Joe Wright , who can be seen with a cameo during the scene on Dunkirk beach .

At the beginning of 2008, Keira Knightley's green dress was voted the most beautiful costume in film history by the US fashion magazine In Style .

The bomb, which flooded London 's Balham Underground Station , actually happened, but not on October 15, 1940, as shown in the film, but the day before.


To produce the film music , Dario Marianelli hired musicians who had already worked on the film music of Pride and Prejudice , including the English Chamber Orchestra .

On November 9, 2007, the soundtrack for the film was released by Universal Music Group , which contains 15 music tracks.

No. title Interpreter Duration
1. Briony Dario Marianelli 1:43
2. Robbie's note Dario Marianelli 3:04
3. Two Figures By A Fountain Dario Marianelli 1:15
4th Cee, you and tea Dario Marianelli 2:25
5. With my own eyes Dario Marianelli 4:39
6th Farewell Dario Marianelli 3:32
7th Love letters Dario Marianelli 3:09
8th. The Half Killed Dario Marianelli 2:09
9. Rescue Me Dario Marianelli 3:17
10. Elegy For Dunkirk Dario Marianelli 4:15
11. Come back Dario Marianelli 4:28
12. Denouement Dario Marianelli 2:26
13. The Cottage On The Beach Dario Marianelli 3:24
14th Atonement Dario Marianelli 5:18
15th Bergamasque Suite - 3rd Clair de lune Jean-Yves Thibaudet 4:51


Ray Bennett described the film in The Hollywood Reporter on August 30, 2007 as a brilliant adaptation of a good novel about love, war and a devastating lie. It is the best novel adaptation of the last time. The portrayals of Keira Knightley and James McAvoy are captivating and charismatic. Bennett compared the film to The English Patient and prophesied that it would receive significant awards.

James Berardinelli wrote on ReelViews that the film proves that Joe Wright understands what he does when it comes to literary adaptations. The novel is not easy to make into a film, but the director and screenwriter have succeeded in adapting it true to the meaning. The film is optically "beautiful", its pace is right, especially in the first half. In addition, it is touching and gets under the skin effectively.

Boyd van Hoeij judged on that the film was a "successful" and faithful adaptation of the novel. The same events are told from different perspectives. Keira Knightley is playing "in top form" and proving that her Oscar nomination for Pride and Prejudice was no coincidence. It “fills the canvas with magnetic presence”. Saoirse Ronan plays similarly "impressive", while Romola Garai masters the difficult middle part of the film. A “real revelation” is the “convincing” presentation by James McAvoy.

Daniel Kothenschulte wrote in the Frankfurter Rundschau on September 1, 2007 that the opening film of the Venice Film Festival was "useless as usual" and would be "quickly forgotten". Quotes from the works of John Ford and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau would ensure a "fruitless cinematic déjà vu".

In the movie review of Ulrich Greiner in the period from 1 November 2007, it was said, "Keira Knightley [...] carries the film a good long piece. But Joe Wright relies too much on her and her beautiful eyes, he indulges in a glossy photograph that looks one-dimensional in the long run. Even the pictures of the terrible war look like recreated scenes of lush battle paintings. "


The film was nominated in seven categories at the 2008 Golden Globe Awards . He was awarded for Best Film Drama . Dario Marianelli received the second Golden Globe for best film music . At the 2007 Satellite Awards , Christopher Hampton won an award for the screenplay; the film was also nominated in four other categories: Knightley and Ronan for Best Actor, the Score, and the Costumes.

At the 2008 European Film Awards , James McAvoy was nominated for Best Actor and the Score.

The work won two BAFTA awards in 2008, for best film and for best production design . The film was also nominated in twelve other categories (Best British Film, Direction, Adapted Screenplay, Leading Actor to James McAvoy, Leading Actress to Keira Knightley, Supporting Actress to Saoirse Ronan, Camera, Costume, Editing, Make-Up, Sound, Soundtrack).

The film won in 2007, the Phoenix Film Critics Society Award in three categories: Best Cinematography (Best Achievement in Cinematography) , for film music and Saoirse Ronan. He was nominated for the 2007 Chicago Film Critics Association Award in three categories: for the screenplay, the score, and the cinematography. The film was nominated for the 2008 London Critics Circle Film Awards in eight categories, including British Film of the Year , for directing, scripting and playing James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan and Vanessa Redgrave. He was nominated for the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award 2008 in five categories: Best Film , Direction, Score and for portrayals of Vanessa Redgrave and Saoirse Ronan.

The drama was nominated in seven categories at the 80th Annual Academy Awards :

The 2008 Academy Awards took place on February 24th. The film won the Oscar in the “ Best Film Music ” category.

The German Film and Media Assessment FBW in Wiesbaden awarded the film the rating "valuable".

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for apology . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , September 2007 (PDF; test number: 111 506 K).
  2. Age rating for apology . Youth Media Commission .
  3. Internet Movie Database : Filming Locations
  4. a b c d e f g Internet Movie Database : budget and box office income
  5. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Internet Movie Database : Background information
  6. a b c d e Internet Movie Database : Start Dates
  7. Film starts : “In Style” magazine: Kürt the most beautiful costumes in film history ( Memento from March 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), London,, January 2, 2008, accessed on November 27, 2012
  8. The Hollywood Reporter : Film Review ( August 23, 2007 memento on the Internet Archive ), Ray Bennett, accessed January 7, 2008
  9. ^ ReelViews : Film Review , James Berardinelli , 2007, accessed January 7, 2008
  10. Atonement (Venice 2007), Written by Boyd van Hoeij, August 18, 2007 ( memento of February 9, 2009 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on September 1, 2007
  11. ^ Daniel Kothenschulte quoted in the Frankfurter Rundschau . according to Keira Knightley beguiles the hearts of the audience. 'Atonement'. In: Europolitan. November 8, 2007, archived from the original on November 2, 2013 ; accessed on February 11, 2018 .
  12. Ulrich Greiner : Beautiful Keira. Joe Wright filmed Ian McEwan's "Atonement" - more one-dimensional than ambiguous. In: The time. November 1, 2007, accessed February 11, 2018 .
  13. a b c d e f g h i j Internet Movie Database : Nominations and Awards