I finally got to see Atonement last week.

A great film, which stayed with me for days afterwards – always a good sign.  A wonderful performance by the girl playing the young Briony Tallis and even Keira Knightley managed not to set my teeth on edge too much.  And James McAvoy is of course very easy on the eye. In fact the whole film is ravishingly shot – it must win Oscars for cinematography if nothing else.

It was also a very faithful adaptation of Ian McEwan’s book and managed to conjure up the same atmosphere with images and sound that he does with words.

The evocation of a hot, humid, sticky, oppressive English summer’s day is particularly well done in the film. This article is well worth reading as it explains how the set designers went about creating the atmosphere of an overblown, high summer day, just tipping into decay, by adding lots of green to the set (including, obviously, Keira’s iconic green dress).

Stokesay Court was the house used, unusually, for filming both interior and outside shots, and it appears to be a fabulous example of Victorian nouveau riche excess and lack of taste. 

Every single surface is overloaded with pseudo-Elizabethan, Jacobean, Gothic, you name it ornamentation and really serves to heighten the sense of brooding oppression and of a rigid class system which the war is about to tear apart.

This article from the Daily Mail gives a really interesting history of the house and also tells how production designer Sarah Greenwood chose the house for its dark, stolid wooden inner hallway – the dark heart of the house and evocative of the story’s dark heart.  (Cue lots of scenes of Cecilia and Briony swishing up and down the staircase).

It also explains how one whole (ugly) wing of the house was photoshopped (or whatever the movie equivalent is) out in the film.

All photos from the Stokesay Court website.



  1. Elizabeth Mackey says

    I loved what you said about Atonement! Keira Knightley really bugs me sometimes, but I think I figured out why. When she is in dramatic rolls she is Ok. When she is laughing and smiling,that is when she annoys me. Don’t even get me started on James McAvoy!! He surely is easy on the eye!!The movie was beautifully shot and that DRESS!! We had some real idiots at the theater that day,and they kind of ruined the flow of the beginning for me,so I would love to see it again.

  2. says

    I think Keira mostly bugs me because she is far too thin and beautiful – but also because she played Elizabeth Bennett when she JUST. WASN’T. RIGHT.
    But yes, she is even more deeply annoying when she’s laughing and smiling…

  3. says

    I avoided it purely for the Kiera factor, I don’t mind dvd but I ain’t paying to see that gob 6ft wide on cinema screen. Did you see her after she didn’t get best actress for it, OH MY GOD, I think that is the most irritating her mouth has ever been, you are spot on when you you use phrases like ‘set my teeth on edge’. But good to know she is bearable in this as it did look like a good film in every other way.

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