Although you may not realize it as you’re watching it — as you get swept up in the highs and lows of romance and war — at its core, “Atonement” is a story about storytelling. Throughout the picture, we are shifting between various viewpoints, be it Briony’s, Cecilia’s, or Robbie’s. On several occasions, we even see the same scene several times from different points of view. Our experiences, biases, and emotions affect how we see every single thing that happens in our lives. Because of that, every person has their own story to tell, and in the case of Briony, her original sin is telling a story distorted by her own experiences, biases, and emotions.

Because of that story, she irrevocably destroyed the lives of the two people she held closer than just about anyone else in the world, and due to their untimely, premature deaths during World War II, Briony reaching out to reconcile and ask for forgiveness was never even a notion she could entertain. The only way she could give some grace to the lives of Cecilia and Robbie was by telling another story. Just as in her original story, it is a lie, but instead of jealousy and adolescent angst being the motivation behind the lie, it is a lifetime of regret and pain that motivates this one.

By writing this book and giving a wide populous a story of two people who were able to be together after enduring unimaginable adversity, she’s giving people the desire to live their lives more in tune with their own emotions. Even though Cecilia and Robbie couldn’t actually live this life, that doesn’t mean others can’t. Stories have the ability to change people’s lives, and no one knows that better than Briony.

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