Atonement

Question: The scene with Briony and the French soldier made absolutely no sense to me. They seem to go back and forth from knowing each other well, to having just met. What exactly am I missing?

Chosen answer: Briony was just told by her superior to hold the French soldier's hand because he was dying. The French soldier was delirious and most likely confused her with another English girl whom he knew in the past. Since he was dying, Briony decided to play along and pretended that she was that girl. While this exchange is happening, though, Briony experiences something else as well. She sees the soldier as being like Robbie which is why I think she has such a strong reaction to him. When she tells the soldier "I love you" it is like her speaking to Robbie.

Question: Robbie's soldier friend (I think his name was Nettle) was so calm and compassionate with him. He said that the hiding place was in reality the beach cottage and he protects Robbie from the angry soldiers. Did he do that because he saw how sick he is and probably knew, deep inside, that Robbie will not survive the night until the evacuation, and wanted to give him a peaceful end? Why does he take Robbie's letters and pictures with him?

Chosen answer: I think he realizes that Robbie most likely won't make it. He takes the letters so that he can get them back to his loved ones. He probably knows that there is a last goodbye to someone (his girl/his mother) in them. And, if nothing else, even if his body doesn't make it back to them, they have a piece of him to cherish.

Question: After a fellow soldier throws his boots, Robbie walks ahead to retrieve them and discovers a large group of murdered children in, I presume, school or church uniforms. Is this moment based on a real historical event of WWII?

johnrosa

Chosen answer: Not as such. The only systematic massacre of civilians in the Dunkirk campaign was in the Flemish village of Vingkt, where the German 377th Infantry Regiment had fought a fierce battle against the Belgian Chasseurs Ardennais. On 27/28 May 1940, the Germans took revenge on the civilian population and shot some 40 men and boys in the village, including eight elderly men who had sheltered in a convent's cellars. They argued that anyone found in a building the Chasseurs had used was liable for execution. The film exaggerates for dramatic effect - dead schoolboys are more poignant than dead old men - but there is a core of truth in the story.

Question: In the scene in which Cecelia and Robbie meet in the cafe, when Cecelia says she has to be back at the hospital in thirty minutes, Robbie makes an anguished comment that is extremely difficult to understand. What is the comment that he makes?

Chosen answer: He says "Oh god, that's..." He's upset at the little time they have together.

Question: The scene in the factory in which the lady washes Robbie's feet, was this real? I know that the woman represents his mother. But does he confuse this unknown woman with his mother, or is the whole scene just a illusion?

Chosen answer: It is an hallucination, most likely brought on from fever due to his wound becoming infected.

Question: Possible spoiler: is Robbie's fatal septicemia caused by the wound in his chest or the general lousy hygienic conditions during their march to the beach and on the beach itself?

Chosen answer: Robbie's death is caused by the wound as it caused the septicemia. So yes.

Question: Two questions: 1. Robbie joins the army to be released from prison. Does that mean he would be a "free man" if he had returned from the war? 2. Wouldn't Robbie, as a healthy young man, be conscripted into the army anyway sooner or later?

Chosen answer: 1. Yes he'd be free once the war has ended or if he's injured and hospitalized. Also, the release form might have specified the duration of service. 2. Yes he would have, but he was already in prison before the war was imminent.

Earthling

Answer: Remember that Robbie wanted to become a doctor, and had he been able to achieve that dream he most likely would not have been drafted into the army as a combatant.

Question: How does Briony know when and especially how Robbie died, because he was obviously left behind in the abandoned factory on the beach and never came "home."

Chosen answer: Robbie died at Bray Dunes, but he was found dead by Corporal Nettle, so presumably his body was later recovered and either buried at Dunkirk or repatriated to Britain. His family would have been informed of the circumstances of his death by the Ministry of Defence.

Sierra1 Premium member

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.