Ian McEwan


In Atonement the characters in the film felt much more passionate and interesting then in the novel. This could be a personal preference but the motivations and convictions of the characters (with the exception of Briony) came across much clearer in the film. With the exceptions of actor and actress preferences, all rolls where still played well and the integrity of the characters was still held in tacked.


The novel opens on the dreamy property of the Tallis family estate in Surrey, a county in southeast England. It’s a summer day with an atmosphere of celebration.

It’s set during and just before World War II; its action takes place in 1935 and 1940. The main events of the story are in Part 1 at the Tallis estate in the English summer heat of 1935, it’s written with great romantic style and detail. Part 2 takes place 5 years latter following one the three main protagonists, Robbie Turner a soldier in France during the war, and part 3 picks up with 18 year-old Briony who is in London signing up to become a nurse.

Atonement (2007) - Official Trailer

Over All Similarities

  • Major characters
  • Sequence order of story
  • General plot line
  • Much of the dialog is directly quoted

Over All Differences

  • War sences are short compilations in the film (exspected for time reasons)
  • Jack Tallis character is only mentioned in the film
  • The twins runaway not is found by Briony at the dinner table, not in their room as the film shows
  • Briony prefers ink on paper, rather then a type writer used in the film
  • When Briony is a nurse she keeps a journal, as aposed to the type writer in the film
  • Emily Tallis is left undeveloped in the film

Critical Acclaim

  • One of the Observer's 100 best novels written
  • #82 of 100 on EW best books in the past 25 years
  • Won 2002 Los Angeles Times book prize for best fiction


  • Nominated for 7 Golden Globes
  • Won Best Motion PIcture
  • Nominated for 14 BAFTA Awards
  • Nominated for 7 Academy Awards

Was it Better?

The novel is and will always be a moving classic piece of literature, but for its intended purpose the film achieved its goal of summing up the plot and characters through actions, gestures, and unsaid tensions between characters. In contrast the novel still allows its audience to capture the characters thoughts and motives in a deeper way.

By: Danica Calvert