I finished filming as an extra in the blockbuster movie Atonement on August 22nd 2006. I didn't realise I'd have to wait a full 12 months and 1 day to see the end result on screen. Well was it worth the wait? The answer is yes. The movie has the meticulous detail you would expect from a director of Joe Wright's calibre.
Richard Brooks (writing in the Sunday Times) said he would be amazed if the jury finds a better film than Atonement to take first place at the Venice film festival on August 29th. He said, "I cannot think of a better British movie in years. Unlike most of our home-grown efforts, it is big scale, yet intimate when it needs to be."
I would agree. The story unfolds and the audience is drawn into the plot from the start. It begins in pre-war England in a large country house with James McAvoy’s character (Robbie Turner) being wrongly accused of rape and being imprisoned and thus separated from Keira Knightley. He is released from prison on condition he joins the army.
This is a love story and more, with the back drop of the Second World War. Although it is not a war film as such, the scenes of the Dunkirk evacuation are some of the best of their type ever executed in cinema history.
The scene that everyone locally will be waiting to see is towards the end of the film. Joe Wright shot the Dunkirk scene in Redcar in one complete take, with no edits. It looks amazing, maybe being part of it made me slightly biased, but the human tableau that McAvoy's character walks through engulfs your senses and I can’t wait to see it again. My only regret is that it wasn’t longer.
Apart from this, Atonement doesn’t disappoint in any department, the acting is first class and the story is engaging and I certainly didn’t guess the ending. I was lucky enough to be one of the 150 people to see a Gala performance at Hartlepool, last night. Pam Ainsley (the Atonement photographer) was also present and she was extremely impressed with the production. I’m sure it will help her Atonement book sales next month.
I will definitely see it again, this time at the Regent Cinema in Redcar, where the building is one of the cornerstones of the great set.
And finally did I see myself? Well possibly, the jury’s still out, until I get my hands on the DVD next year. Enjoy it.