Monday, July 20, 2009

Teardrops on My VCR: Atonement (2007)

So, I cry during movies...quite a bit. And because I wanted to start yet another series, here is one that will dissect my reasons behind crying during any given scene during a film. Sometimes it's from happiness, sometimes from release. Others because I can personally relate to the scene. But most of the time it's from sheer depression.

For my first "Teardrops" blog, I'll discuss the tragic WWII era epic romance Atonement.

What made me cry...
At the end of the film, an elderly Briony Tallis (played by Vanessa Redgrave) is conducting an interview on her latest and last novel, "Atonement", which portrays the events of the film. She is overcome with grief and admits to the autobiographical elements of the book and how the happy ending is fictional.

In truth, Robbie Turner (the very sexy James McAvoy) died of septicemia the day before the evacuation of Dunkirk.

And Briony's sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley) was killed in the Balham Tube Station flooding.

Briony never made amends with her sister. And Robbie and Cecelia never saw each other after their one half hour meeting at the coffee shop.

Through this quote, Briony explains her reasoning for changing the ending:

"So, my sister and Robbie were never able to have the time together they both so longed for... and deserved. Which ever since I've... ever since I've always felt I prevented. But what sense of hope or satisfaction could a reader derive from an ending like that? So in the book, I wanted to give Robbie and Cecilia what they lost out on in life. I'd like to think this isn't weakness or... evasion... but a final act of kindness. I gave them their happiness."

The movie ends with a scene of the fictional Robbie and Cecilia enjoying their togetherness while chasing waves on an English beach.

Why it made me cry...
Well, this is one of the more personal ones. I plan on someday writing a series of young adult novels based on the true events of my romantic life. (Not self-indulgent at all, is it?) Anyway, if things don't conclude climactically or harmoniously, I will fake a happy ending. Like Briony said, what sense of hope or satisfaction can a reader find in an unhappy ending after you've dragged a reader/viewer through such tumultuous events?

But truly, the real sadness comes from the realization that the real characters died seperated and miserable. To hell with their fictional counterparts. A fake happy ending doesn't make up for the real tragedy.

No comments: