Monday, September 6, 2010

It takes a good book and an equally good movie version of the novel to make this blogger feel satisfied with both and not rant about how a film version is a poor representation of a literary masterpiece (e.g. The Other Boleyn Girl) or the special effects in a movie may trick the population into thinking that the novel is worth the read (e.g. Twilight). 

Atonement, both on screen and written version, tells a dazzling story about two lovers torn apart when a 13-year old accused her sister's love of a crime he did not commit and therefore changing the course of several lives.

Reading the novel, I was transfixed by the power of Ian McEwan's words. The lyrical display of a pre-teen's feelings of superiority of things she could not possibly have understood leaves one breathless and itching to dive into the page and take matters in his/her own hands. I think, the character of Briony Tallis is the epitome of what could happen if adults and the world continue to insist that sex and relationships are off limits to everyone below the age of 20.

The only criticism I could think about the novel is that it seems to digress sought after scenes. It feels as if just when the story is picking up and the air is thick with excitement, the scene gets cut and before one knows it, it's 5 years later and one is in a completely different and unfamiliar setting. But that's maybe just the author trying to prove his point on how powerful he really is being able to control the reader's emotions with his prose.

I did not have any expectations with the film version, although I think if I had any, it would have exceeded most of them. I loved how it stayed true to the pages of the novel, barely altering scenes to make it more cinema-audience friendly although it's a pity that they cut off numerous scenes from the war which I think would look amazing on the big screen. The production team probably had budget issues and it's understandable.

It reminds me of one of the things I like best about writing stories and creating your own world:

You don't ever have to worry about how much it would cost to blow up a building or have a spaceship land in the middle of a football field. You just have to know how to write about it.

Back to the movie, I think the music is just plain gorgeous. It takes the film to a whole new level because of the magnificence of the score. The ingenious use of typewriter clicks and the melodious violin strings just blows me away. Kiera Knightley and James McAvoy didn't do that bad either. Both presented their character with realism and with genuine affection for each other that it's easy to believe in their love story and get swept up in it. 


Even having read the book, after watching the movie, I realized I had missed a crucial event, so even I was surprised by the ending. The film made clear what was ambiguous in the book, and for that I am thankful. All in all, it is a pleasure to have lived through the lives of Cecilia, Rob and Briony. We can only imagine the truth.


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