Comparing and Contrasting the Novel “Atonement” to its Film

Topics: Novels

In class, we have been reading the novel “Atonement”, by Ian McEwan. This novel was made into a film in 2007 and won many awards for its acting, music, and many other categories. In general, the film was extremely loyal to the plot and character development in the novel. The director made sure that many of the little details that were present in the novel were in the film. I think this is what made the film so notable the filmmakers did so much to make the film as similar as humanly possible to the award-winning ovel.

However since the book is so heavy on the character’s internal dialogues with themselves, the film obviously couldn’t replicate that amount of abstract speech without a continuous voiceover. Thus, even though the film did a fantastic Job of translating the outward actions, words, and perspectives of the many different characters in the novel, it couldn’t have possibly translated the immense amount of nuance in the character’s internal dialogues.

For these reasons, I believe that the novel version of “Atonement” is superior to the film version.

Film Just can’t capture he emotions and thoughts of the characters the way that the written word can. The first main difference between the novel and the movie was the fact that many of the scenes in the novel had a lot of the character’s thoughts and emotion, and the film could not capture that effectively. I feel that the internal dialogues of the characters like Briony and Cecilia are extremely important to the plot of the novel and to the film.

Get quality help now
Doctor Jennifer

Proficient in: Novels

5 (893)

“ Thank you so much for accepting my assignment the night before it was due. I look forward to working with you moving forward ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Brionys development as a main character in the novel is especially important because she is, in my opinion, the main antagonist of the novel.

She is the one that causes Robbie to be sent to Jail, and subsequently, to Join the army and fght in the war. In the novel, we learn that she ends up feeling immensely guilty about what she did when was thirteen and in the film, I feel like it is not conveyed as well as in the novel. One of the scenes in the film that has this disconnect between what is being shown outwardly and what is going on inside a character’s head during that is when Cecilia is trying to decide what dress to wear to dinner because Robbie will be there.

In the film, it Just shows her pick out a dress, no problem, and she goes to meet Robbie at the front door. However, in the novel, Cecelia agonizes over what dress to wear because she wants to look perfect. She changes many times because, “She hated the thought of appearing austere. Relaxed was how she wanted to feel, and, at the same time, self-contained. Above all, she wanted to look as though she had not given the matter a moment’s thought, and that would take time”.

This shows her anxiety over finding the right dress to wear, even though in reality, it robably wouldn’t have mattered much what she wore. She hadn’t yet admitted her feelings for Robbie by this point, but through this important scene, they show despite what her actions on the outside convey to Robbie. One other main difference between the novel and film is how they show the time Robbie is in France during the war. In the novel, it is described that he had gotten shot shortly before the events that we get to read about. He describes the feel of it, ana tne Tact tnat ne Is worrlea tnat It may De getting InTectea.

In tne Tllm, tnls Tact Is pretty much ignored. The filmmakers also omit explaining the fact that the other soldiers that Robbie is traveling with to Dunkirk are his superiors, because in the film it seems like he is the one with the higher ranking. If they had done this, it would have made more sense when they ridiculed him for being so intelligent and knowing French so well. This also would have explained when, in the novel, why Nettle calls Robbie guvnor. They called him that to settle the difficult matter of rank.

This alludes to the fact that Robbie is technically ranked lower than the corporals, yet he has more knowledge than they do, do they have to listen to him as opposed to the other way around. Overall, I believe that both the novel and the film are notable, but I tend to prefer the novel more than the film. This is because the character’s motives, emotions, and life perspectives are explained in much more depth than they are in the film. The film just showed the events of what happened and left it mainly to the viewer to infer what the characters were thinking.

Cite this page

Comparing and Contrasting the Novel “Atonement” to its Film. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

Comparing and Contrasting the Novel “Atonement” to its Film
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7