Older Briony Tallis - “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.”
– Atonement, 2007
You see, everyone has their favorite artist, someone they’ve got a crush on, that they think is really beautiful, or talented, or both. And so do I. Because of that, I do think I need to watch every.single.movie she is in (yup, this artist is a she), and this time wasn’t different.
The movie was loaded, the popcorn ready. And no tissues at hand, even though my mother advised me the film was sad. I was going to be bold. Yes, I was!
It turned out I needed more than a box of those, some chocolate, and a blanket to stop crying, but all of these are subjects of future texts.
Focusing on the movie and its message, I would like to highlight, how, surprisingly, a childish small emotion can have as a result such a huge, tragic ending.
There is a story I used to hear when I was little, which was about a young shepherd, who was extremely bored (I would be too, I mean, looking the whole day after sheep doesn’t seem to be something truly exciting). Anyway, he decided to do something to pass away the time: lie.
He then walked to the nearest village, and yelled that there was a wolf attacking his sheep. Everybody ran to the field, and all the sheep were safe, with no other animal around them. Bored again, he walked down the city one more time, saying that now, there was a real wolf. All the villagers ran to the field, and no one was there. People started to get angry and annoyed, but, the next time this young boy ran to the village, something had truly happened: there was a real wolf, really attacking his sheep. By that time, nobody believed him, or saved the sheep, and the boy was alone. He lost his entire herd.
In the story (and in real life), no one believes a liar, even though it is a young liar. But what about an innocent child? A naive rich girl, who had the whole world and no reason to lie?
Well, the answer is yes. Yes, people do believe. Yes, people do believe in what they want to hear, or think they want to hear. People do believe in those who seem to be ‘believable’, who are rich, or white, or beautiful, or just children. Yes, they do.
Yes, they believed in Briony Tallis, a British 13 –year-old girl, jealous of her older half-sister, Cecilia, because they both liked the same guy, Robbie, a servant who worked in their house and loved Cecilia.
As the older Briony would say, the story “is about a young girl who thinks she knows everything, and sees something through her bedroom’s window that she thinks she understands, but she doesn’t”.
Jealous, young Briony accuses Robbie of doing something (which he didn’t), and he goes to jail. Years later, World War II begins, and he chooses to serve Britain instead of staying in prison, and sometime after returns to his country, to meet Cecilia.
The couple didn’t forgive Briony (who regrets what she said, because she was lying), and, after war ends, they both die, separated, in the same year, without saying goodbye to each other.
Briony grows up, and turns into a talented novelist, and, as she discovers she is sick and going to die, she writes the story of her life. Briony puts everything on those pages, every tear, every smile, every ungiven kiss, and every unforgiven apology.
And she writes them the only thing they couldn’t have.
“I love you. I'll wait for you. Come back. Come back to me”.
Their life together.