Atonement

Factual error: Near the beginning of the film before James McAvoy heads up to the house for the evening meal, he is seen looking up through a skylight when a Lancaster bomber slowly flies overhead. At the time it was was supposed to be 1935. The Lancaster bomber did not fly until the beginning of 1941. And if it was supposed to be an Avro Manchester, then they only had two engines.

Factual error: On arriving on the beach at Dunkirk, Robbie is told of the sinking of the Lancastria and the loss of 3000 men. This event actually occurred 17 days later on June 17 1940.

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Continuity mistake: When Briony sees Cecilia coming out of the fountain (from Briony's perspective), Cecilia steps out of the water with her right foot first. When we see the same scene afterwards, from Cecilia an Robbie's perspective, Cecilia steps with her left foot first.

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Trivia: In the DVD commentary, Director Joe Wright reveals a lucky fluke that got caught on camera during the scene just before Robbie (James McAvoy) discovers the school girls massacre. At the point where he removes his helmet, the weather was cloudy. As he looks up the sky, the sun started shining, and then got cloudy again the moment he put his head down.


Leon Tallis: What do you say, Cee? Does the hot weather make you behave badly? Good heavens, you're blushing.
Cecilia Tallis: Just hot in here, that's all.

Cecilia Tallis: My brother and I found the two of them down by the lake.
Police Inspector: You didn't see anyone else?
Cecilia Tallis: I wouldn't necessarily believe everything Briony tells you. She's rather fanciful.

Robbie Turner: ...if all we have rests in a few moments in a library three and a half years ago, then I don't know... I don't.
Cecilia Tallis: Robbie... look at me. Look at me. Come back. Come back to me.

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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: 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?

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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: 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.

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