Atonement is a romantic drama directed by Joe Wright and released in 2007. The plot centers around two lovers, Cecilia a young aristocratic woman and Robbie a servant on the estate who harbors dreams of becoming a doctor. Their brief relationship is tragically torn apart because of events that are misunderstood by Cecilia’s younger sister Briony. Briony’s version of events leads the separation of the two young lovers and puts them each on a quest to reunite.
In this scene Robbie has arrived on the beach at Dunkirk during the evacuation of British troops from France. The director creates a starkly realistic and naturalistic depiction of one of the darkest periods of Britain’s empire. Layered on top of this near defeat is the back-story of the protagonist Robbie who is attempting to return to his love Cecilia, anxiously awaiting him on the other side of the English Channel. These two themes of personal loss and the losses of war combine with Wright’s verisimilitude depiction of the event to create a memorable and moving scene during which Robbie ultimately realizes he may never return to his love Cecilia.
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