Secret Examiner

A Level Film

IB Film

Film Library

Codes & Conventions

Legacy Resources

Useful Materials

Atonement Case Study

Rob Miller | Thursday November 03, 2011

Categories: A Level, Analysis, Film Analysis, Films & Case Studies, Hollywood Films, Atonement, Non-Hollywood Films, Genres & Case Studies, British Film, Costume Drama, Heritage, Period Drama, Romance, War, Hot Entries


  • Director – Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice): experience of big budgets, high production values and of the genre Costume Melodrama. Novel written by Ian McKewan (critically successful author)
  • Genre Costume Melodrama – critically and commercially successful (‘safe’ genre). Arguably Atonement is a hybrid genre – Romance/War Film (built sets, contextual background). Gosford Park, Room with a View
  • Produced and Distributed by Working Title (UK) and Universal Studios (US) – BFI category 3 (UK/US collaboration). Reflects ‘patterns’ relating to British film over a 20 year period (commercial success).

Institutional Factors

  • Target Audience – mass audiences (mainstream text), popular with American audiences (English cultural heritage e.g. social class, location). Older female target audience – C1, C2, D, Mainstreamers and Aspirers
  • Production Values – star marketing, set design, costumes, multi location shooting, multiple camera angles/shots, SFX, CGI, Working Title / Universal production
  • Distribution – Wide distribution (Universal Studios)

British Production & USA Distribution

Atonement is a Working Title / Universal Film – see below other examples of films made by British Production company (Working Title) and Distributed by the American Studio (Universal) reflecting the pattern of UK/US collaborations.

Working Title / Universal Films

  • Smoking Aces – 2006
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary – 2002
  • Edge of Reason - 2004
  • Notting Hill – 1999
  • Love Actually – 2003
  • Definitely Maybe – 2007
  • Wimbledon – 2004
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral – 1994
  • About a Boy – 2002
  • Billy Elliot – 2000
  • Ali G Indahouse – 2003
  • Calcium Kid – 2004
  • Hot Fuzz – 2007
  • The Boat That Rocked - 2009
  • Senna / Paul / Johnny English Reborn - 2011

English Costume Drama: Codes and Conventions

Iconography of Costume Melodrama

Costumes, set design, accents and dialogue, locations, traditional family values, repressed sexuality, cultural heritage


Please subscribe or log in to access the rest of this resource (including associated media).

This website offers a wealth of enriched content to help you help your students with GCSE & A Level Film. Please subscribe or log in to access this content.

The content of this site has been produced by teachers and examiners. Edusites have similar support sites for English and Media called Edusites English and Edusites Media.

If you would like more information about Edusites Film, get in touch using the contact details below.

Kind regards, Richard Gent
Edusites Ltd

[telephone] 01604 847689
[fax] 01604 843220