Analysis of Scenes of Atonement Film

Last Updated: 17 Aug 2022
Essay type: Film Analysis
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Atonement- Analysis of Scenes The scene starts with a long shot of the three characters walking on a path in the reeds towards the camera. The reason a long shot is used is to establish the setting of the characters. It cuts in to a close up of Robbie to show his emotion as he realises they have made it to the sea. It cuts to an medium high angle aerial long shot as the characters are running through the reeds to show the true desperation of the men. While they are running the music playing is low like being played on an organ and picks up pass to build up the tension of the scene.

It tracks their movement as they run and cuts into a close u p of Robbie’s shoe then zooms out and moves up at the same time up over Robbie’s head to an extreme long shot of the beach of Dunkirk. The reason an extreme long shot was used was in order for the viewers to really be able to see the whole of the beach, to capture the essence of the War by all the devastation of the beach by seeing it all. A reverse shot reverse is used between the men and the beach, firstly it is a close up of Robbie’s face to be able to portray the emotion of disappointment in Robbie’s face.

The camera then cuts to its continues tracking shot using a handheld steadicam for the duration of 5 minutes. It starts with the camera tracking a medium shot at eye level of the men talking as they walk towards the camera. the captain is tall and walks with precision to show his authority. The camera continues to track the men in a long shot as they walk along the beach, certain objects obscure the view of the men walking as the camera tracks behind things like burning cars which is included in the mise-en-scene as it shows the viewers the true devastation of the scene.

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Robbie is walking with purpose and determination and the camera follows Robbie to shows his purpose. There is no music just the rattling of the on goings of the soldiers and the soldiers shouting, the sounds of horses are heard and gun shots. As the horses are being shot in a long shot view with Robbie walking away from them music starts playing to heighten the emotion of the scene. The camera tracks Robbie as he moves through the scene, the camera follows some flying papers in the air into a low angle shot of the broken sails of a ship with a man on top shouting ‘Laddie, I’m coming home! which shows contrast of his hope despite his hopeless situation, it also gives a sense of madness. The camera tracks down into a close up of Robbie to show his emotion through his facial expression. The beach is filled with broken debris and men going about all sorts of things, one man is seen doing exercises on a beam and contrasts with other men getting in a fight or stumbling around drunk. A Ferris wheel is seen in the background surrounded by smoke and devastation, it looks as if it’s almost a dead carnival and the Ferris wheel is a to show the true nature of the devastation of the war.

Children are seen sitting down next to some toys, they are placed sitting down to convey the defeat and hopelessness in their situation. The music begins to swell and men are heard singing as the camera tracks them and moves into a close up as it goes round seeing their faces as they sing, gives a feeling of hope within them. The camera tracks back into a close up of Robbie showing defeated, uncomfortable expression on his face which contrasts as the camera tracks around a group of men shouting and jeering as they are going on a merry-go-round.

The camera tracks back as Robbie and the two men walk towards the camera in a medium shot as they walk through the beach, showing all the doings of different men on the beach. The camera tracks the men walking up some stairs as the music heightens, the camera turns to show the beach as it tracks behind men. It shows the devastation the beach has suffered due the terrible war, it tracks behind the men to include them into the shot as they are a part of the war.

The camera tracks along exposing the beach and music is at a very low tempo to compliment the feeling of the shot as well as the men singing are heard as well as the “Laddie, I’m coming home! ” BRIONY IN THE HOSPITAL The scene starts with a long shot of a corridor lighted down the middle, the type writing sound is heard. The music picks up as a group of nurses in a long shot walk down the corridor towards the camera. The music and typewriter is the same as the scene Briony had as a little girl and so the music in combination with the rhythmic typewriting has become her signature soundtrack.

The camera pans in a close up shot of the nurses shoes as they walk passed, the shot of their shoes shows the determination of them as they walk. The camera tracks the nurses as they walk into a room with the patients beds, it goes into a close up of the head nurse as she addresses the other girls, the close up shows the seriousness in her expression as she talks. A shot reverse shot is used as the head nurse addresses them. The other nurses are dismissed walking away in two lines showing precision eaving Briony standing alone in the middle of the shot and the music heightens as the camera zooms into a medium shot of her showing a worried, lonely expression on her face. the hospital seems to suit her character as everything is in order and is just so, everything is white, perfect and orderly which goes well with her character. The camera cuts to a shot reverse shot of Briony and the head nurse as she addresses Briony, Briony is positioned in a very upright position to show her character.

The camera cuts to a close up shot of Briony in the window to portray her unhappy emotion, the camera zooms out into a long shot of Briony walking down a corridor, the shot has low key lighting as it gives an almost eerie feeling. A radio is heard in the background recounting the developments of the war as well as her signature sound of a typewriter is heard as she walks, she walks very rigid but not with the same determination as in the previous scene with her as a girl as if ‘there is no Briony anymore. ’ The camera pans a shot of the nurses room, all doing girly things as they get ready for bed.

Lights are switched off and the sound of the typewriting is heard once again and the camera cuts to a medium shot of Briony sitting down writing in the dark, one of her fellow nurses walks in and Briony jumps up guiltily as if she’s doing something wrong when she gets a fright from the noise. A medium shot reverse shot is used as a conversation between the two are going on. Briony’s hand slaps down on the page to show she’s anxious about anybody seeing her work. A high angle close up shot of her hand on the page is shown and once her hand is removed the viewers see the title of what she’s writing “Two Figures by a Fountain. A slow swelling of music is heard as they speak about the book and a close up of the two faces is shown to portray the friends eagerness to know about the story and Briony’s worried expression on her face. Briony confesses what it’s about in a close up shot to show her pain as she thinks about what she has done, it shows her growth as a character as she is finally acknowledging and understanding what she has done. There is a half shadow on her face which is a technique the director has used to portray secrets as she is only telling a half truth.

There is a long shot used to show the two girls laughing and this is the first time Briony is seen laughing as she is feeling exhilarated. Music picks up as the camera cuts to a shot of Briony sitting at a desk writing a letter to Cecelia, as she is writing there is a voice over telling us what she has contained in her letter. The camera cuts to a series of shots of her cleaning as the voice over of the letter is being read, the cleaning is symbolic for cleansing oneself as she is trying to cleanse herself for to terrible thing she did.

She is trying to atone for what she has done and that is seen through the shots. For example there is a close up shot of her vigorously scrubbing her hands which is symbolic for her desperation to cleanse herself within. The camera cuts to a medium shot of the two girls talking as they pack stuff away in the store room , the camera cuts to a close up shot of Briony to show her expression as she is reminiscing about her crush. A bell rings and the camera tracks the nurses as they run through the corridor, music starts to swell to add tension to the scene.

The camera tracks the girls as they run through a group of soldiers outside, men are heard shouting and it adds to the sense of chaos. There is a medium shot of Briony carry a badly injured man inside, a medium shot is used to show the determination on her face. The camera cuts to different shots of nurses tending to injured men and what Briony is doing, the continues change of shot and the use of the handheld camera really adds and emphasizes the chaos of it all as well as the use of the handheld camera making it feel more real. It cuts to a shot of Briony having blood on her hands which is very symbolic.

Men and those being carried are rushing passed her as she stands looking around, Robbie is seen in the middle and it quickly cuts to a close up of Briony to show her reaction to seeing him, music swells to add to the climax of her going towards Robbie but the music drops when it’s not him. Briony is seen inside again tending to injured men, there are close ups and medium shots of the terribly injured men to add to the devastation of the war. In the shots Briony is seen as very composed and determined in contrast to some others who are crying.

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Analysis of Scenes of Atonement Film. (2017, Feb 09). Retrieved from

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