Text Response: Film – Atonement Word Count: 975
Explore the purposes of Atonement, and explain how Wright uses filmic techniques to convey his ideas to the audience. How effective is the use of these techniques in achieving the purposes of the director? Provide specific examples from the film in your answer.
Joe Wright’s Atonement (2007) displays a wide range of cinematic techniques throughout the film to convey his ideas to leave the audience questioning their own understanding of the text. Atonement follows main protagonist Briony Tallis over the course of her life as she attempts to atone for her actions. Wright’s use of lighting, perspective and audio effects express the key themes of truth and the power of words. Wright’s camera shots, lighting adjustments and music are used symbolically whilst also painting a picture of the dynamic relationships in the Tallis family. The tragic and complex love story between Robbie and Cecilia is emphasised with extreme close ups, symbolism and misleading long shots. Wright plays with the audience’s perspective and displays how vital it is to storytelling. Wright uses all these cinematic techniques to add hidden meaning into even the most insignificant of scenes. He does this to convey his purpose even further to the audience.
Wright’s use of lighting over the course of the film demonstrates the theme of truth, as it leaves audiences questioning their own understanding. Lighting, or lack thereof, is used as a symbol throughout the film as it displays the uncertainty of numerous situations. This is evident during the testimony scene as several characters give their take on the rape of Lola Quincey. The low-key lighting setting shows the uncertainty of Briony as she lets her preconceived beliefs get in the way of the truth. The darkness emphasises the facial expressions of the characters as Cecilia expresses her doubts about Briony’s fanciful story. Wright’s use of lighting is not just symbolic as it plays an integral part in the story. Briony walks in on Robbie and Cecilia during their intimate moment in the study. Due to the lowly lit lights and the youthful ignorance of Briony, she jumps to the conclusion that Robbie was attacking Cecilia. This scene holds major bearing on the story as is causes Briony to claim that Robbie committed the rape of Lola, showing again the purpose and consequences of ‘the power of words’. The rape scene of Lola also shows how Wright used lighting to hide the theme of truth in Atonement. Briony finds Lola but due to the darkness, she does not see the perpetrator. The light hides Paul Marshall causing Briony to insist that Robbie was the offender, displaying once again how easily the truth can be masked. Wright uses lighting to symbolise how easily the truth can be hidden whilst also using it as an integral feature in this complex film.
Wright’s Atonement uses extreme close ups and far away longshots as a pivotal story telling technique whilst also using them to further convey...