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Film Internal


Joe Wright is a creative and enlightening English film director who won the BAFTA for the film ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Wright’s works are known especially for warm and inviting lighting techniques which are supported by strong controversial contemporary and story settings with slow shots. I have chosen Wright’s masterpiece 2007 film ‘Atonement’ and the classic 2005 love story 'Pride and Prejudice’ to analyse. In each film he incorporates strong cinematography and lighting in each scene to give the audience a better understanding of his directional method. He shows the audience a better understanding of the class distinctions seen during early historical periods and the different struggles faced by an individual using those techniques.

Atonement, Aspect 1

A scene, in ‘Atonement’, that Joe Wright uses effective cinematography to show the audience the segregation and struggles of each character, is the ‘Flashback scene’ featuring, Robbie, Cecilia and Briony. The scene starts with a close-up shot of Robbie’s blue eyes, and grey face, lying on his side ruminating about his life in his dreams. The close-up shot of Robbie conveys his despair, and disgruntlement as he succumbs to his injuries. When the close-up shot is on Briony, a sense of similar despair, and disgruntlement is seen however, with a bit of grief. Wright shows the audience that there is a conflicted relationship between them, to make them both feel despair and disgruntled. Wright uses point of view shots from Robbie’s and Briony’s perspectives to express their reason for their feelings, thus making the audience feel the conflict between them. For instance, the sequence after Robbie’s close-up is a quick flashback played to convey his feelings. The sequence of Briony at the nurse’s office, is a POV of Briony then leads to her close-up shot, which reinforces her feelings. In Robbie’s POV shot, the shot is a reversed flashback showing his hurtful past. The audience empathizes with Robbie’s imaginative desire to live with ordinary happiness. However, Wirght conveys through that the close-up of Robbie’s eyes, that the reality, is a struggle, and his simple desire has been made impossible through no fault of his own. Thus, he feels hopeless, disgruntled, and despairing. In Briony’s Pov shot, the scene shows her self- identity being hidden. Lucy says, “there is no more Briony”, This creates a juxtaposition by making the audience feel empathy towards Briony for the cruel behavior seen towards her by others. However, by the close-up of Robbie revealing his struggle connects to Briony, because of her reckless selfish behavior filled with jealousy, and imaginative stories created by her, lead Robbie to be framed and live his life consisting with war and death. Wright shows the audience that Briony’s act of deception with innocence is soon about to come to an end and is to be filled with guilt, grief and disgruntledment… As Briony grows up, she distinguishes the difference between the importance of reality and imagination, leading her to despair due to the guilt of her thoughtless actions. Thus, she became a nurse to atone for her sins by treating the hurt and sick. This scene is very symbolic to the rest of the film because the writing conveys how through one’s thoughtless act, Briony, leads many people’s catastrophic life. He also shows how her actions conflict within herself as she detains herself to atone for her sins.

Atonement, Aspect 2

Another aspect used in ‘Atonement’ is lighting and dialogue to convey the segregation and struggles of each character, in the ‘Flashback scene’. Lighting is supported by dialogue to show how his simple desire is made impossible through no fault of his own. Lighting is used in the scene where Robbie sheds tears after he recollects his sweet memories of him and Cecilia, as well as on the other side the soldiers gather to sing a song to console themselves and for the people who died. The lighting is projected in this scene by some sort of wavering light towards the 300,000 army of soldiers, whereas Robbie is shedding tears in complete darkness. Wright conveys to the audience that soldiers have some sort of flickering light of hope to see their loved ones and home. However, when Robbie stands in deep darkness, the audience understands how his last flicker of flight has been blown away. The lighting interwines with dialogue when he says, “Find you, love you…and live without shame.” Wright wants to show the audience how being portrayed as a ‘rapist’ and insulted as a ‘lower class’ impacted Robbie’s societal prestige. The noun ‘shame’ holds a grudge with an intense insult towards Robbie. The audience understands that Robbie desires to be free from that insult and live freely with his desired one. Lighting and dialogue are also used to portray the impact seen in Briony, when Lucy says, “There is no Briony!”. When Briony walks out of the nurse’s office she repeats the phrase to herself ‘There is no Briony’, making her realize her existence has no more meaning. The light gleams one by one as she takes each step forward. This makes the audience understand that it is creating a new pathway for ‘the Briony’ with redemption, and towards purity. Through lighting and dialogue wright show, that when Robbie is at the edge of fighting for his love and justice for peaceful, Briony’s is on her journey for atonement towards Robbie. Through this scene Wright portrays an example of class and fate dislocation.

Pride and Prejudice, Aspect 1

A scene, in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ that Joe Wright uses effective cinematography to show the audience the segregation and struggles of each character, is the ‘rain scene’ featuring, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. In this scene, Wright uses close-up shots supported by POV shot to show conflicts within class differentiation due to intense pride and prejudice. The scene starts with a close-up of Elizabeth panting, taking her time to realize the truth behind her sister’s marriage being stopped by Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy’s close-up was a high angle Pov shot, conveying him as a powerful and strong character, whereas Elizabeths close-up shot was placed as a low angle shot, making her look less powerful and weak compared to him. From Mr. Darcy’s POV he expresses his feeling as in a way of sacrifice. He says, “I fought against my better judgment, my family expectation, my rank… I’m willing to put them aside and I ask you, you to end my agony.” The higher angle POV shot of Mr. Darcy makes his opinions take priority over hers, making her opinions seem to matter less to him. Even though he says his pride about sacrificing to love beyond that fact of segregation of lower class is put aside, his prejudices overruled them. Wright uses a low angle shot POV shot to make Elizabeth look weak and less appreciated. This makes the audience understand that patriarchy and pride were intensely seen in the early periods, thus leading to many prejudices regarding the class beneath them. Thus, leading them to be marganalised, segregated and treated as slaves of the upper class.

Pride and Prejudice, Aspect 2

Another aspect used in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is lighting and dialogue to convey the segregation and struggles of each character, in the ‘rain scene’. In this scene lighting and dialogue is used astonishingly by Wright to show that not everything you imagine is reality. Even though Elizabeth is seen with a low angle POV shot to make her look weak, through those techniques she is seen to be stronger than Mr. Darcy thinks. Elizabeth has high prejudice against Mr. Darcy and also upholds a strong sense of pride just like him. When Elizabeth rejected a proposal with a high social status he was torn apart. He says, “Are you laughing at me.” This shows the audience how hurt and disrespectful he thought her reply was, making him furious. However, through her rejection the audience understands that she is not scared to stand up for herself despite any consequences regarding class differentiation. Elizabeth’s prejudice against Mr. Darcy was seen as a cruel man who is selfish and prideful “makes you want to be the last man I want to marry.”Mr. Darcy’s prejudice against her is about her lower classed family being, “indifferent, advantageous, and lack of propriety”. This creates a contrast with the close-up shot, even though Elizebeth is framed from a low angle shot to make her look weak and less prestigious, however, from the lighting and dialogue technique the audience understands that she is based as strong character than Mr. Darcy. Moreover, through the side lighting, it is evident half their faces are hidden in the dark. Wright shows this to convey that their prejudice against each other was based on their imaginative thoughts that lead them to conflict within their pride and their relationship.


Joe Wright uses a modern perspective to relate to the perspectives of people during the early period. In both films, Wright uses powerful and evocative cinematography and lighting techniques to convey the impact of segregation seen due to social classes. In ‘Atonement’ the auteur depicts the characters in a world where fate is highly impacted by class differentiation. In contrast in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ the auteur gives a chance for Elizabeth to stand up for herself against societal class criticism. This relates to the modern world where talent is seen to be slightly more predominant than position and money. A world where everyone is given an opportunity and not being discriminated against or shamed by their money or fame. Joe Wright immersed himself in the role of being a lower class and conveyed the struggles they go through. Wright successfully shows that standing up yourself and not being disheartened by others’ prejudice is also a key part to thriving in today’s society.