Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Atonement and Stokesay Court

Atonement was not my favorite film of the year, but it was definitely one of the most visually fetching. Filmed at the Victorian estate Stokesay Court in Shropshire, Sarah Greenwood's set design and Joe Wright's stylish direction combine for a painterly view of pre-war, English country life, as enjoyed by the new upper class (for the first half of the film, at least).

Amazingly enough, much of the faded, floral, interior is original to the house, which was completed in 1892. Very little of Stokesay Court was changed for the film, including the bedrooms, drawing room, dining room, and servant quarters.

Says Greenwood of the decision to use Stokesay Court, "Initially, I was attracted by the gardens. But, when I got there, I was struck by the interior. I like that dark, gloomy hall at the centre of the house because there is a dark heart to the entire story."

The biggest alteration to Stokesay Court was the removal of a exterior wing in post-production (seen intact in this photo). Ian McEwan's novel called for the family home to be in the fashion of the nouveau-riche, but even Stokesay Court was too ostentatious for the script.

If chintzy, English interiors are your cup of tea, then this is the film to see. Otherwise, Gosford Park remains as my favorite of the genre. The director's commentary on the DVD is especially enlightening.

16 comments:

Habitually Chic said...

What a great post! I have been dying to see this film and the back story just adds to my excitement!

Gosford Park is one of my all time favorite movies as well! I first saw it at The Paris Theatre in NYC with a bunch of "older" folks who kept asking "what did he say." Even I had trouble with the quick dialogue and accents so I recemmend watching it with the captions on at least once. Best thing I ever did! In fact, I might have to watch it again today!

Style Court said...

I prefer the architecture in Gosford Park, but I love this post b/c I'm always fascinated by art direction, set design. Thanks.

The Peak of Chic said...

I too adore Gosford Park, but am anxious to see Atonement. One thing I admire about many of these country houses is that they have not been touched in so long! If they got the decor right the first time, they left it that way. Although, I wonder if this is changing.

Laura said...

I promised myself I'd read Atonement before I saw the movie, but that estate is tempting(although I always wonder about the dust in those places). I loved Gosford Park, too, and I think I need to watch it with the subtitles, as Habitually Chic suggested. No matter how loud I turned it up, I could not understand about fifty percent of what they were saying!

Also loved Bright Young Things movie (and book).

Jessica said...

I really want to see this movie - you just got me really excited!!

http://www.theshinysquirrel.com

Brilliant Asylum said...

Thanks! Set design for these English period films is so interesting to me. Stop me when I start sounding like one of those crazy Jane Austen fanatics.

Even though Gosford Park and Atonement are set in 1930's England, the houses where they are filmed are centuries apart in age--which reflects the varying social rank and aristocratic history of the families that live there (both on and off film).

I have seen Gosford Park at least 10 times and find something new with each viewing since the dialogue is fairly complex for my feeble mind. The DVD actually has two commentaries--one by the directors and one by Julian Fellowes who won the Oscar for Best Screenplay. It is really fascinating to watch.

Style Court said...

What did you all think of Chatsworth House, as the exterior of Pemberley in last year's film, Pride and Prejudice?

Things That Inspire said...

Fascinating post! I saw Atonement this past weekend. I found it truly haunting, and very moving. Very melancholy. I was so bored the first 30 minutes, and could feel the resentment of my husband (whenever we see a movie at the Tara, he is very nervous about how he will like it), but after the first 30 minutes all was well and we were riveted to the story.

What amazing details from the house! The house is so much more beautiful without the wing on the right. It almost looks like they built it on to make the place a hotel.

I must admit, I hated the darkness of the wood in the hall, and the fact that it was entirely an interior room!

design for mankind. said...

Oh gracious this is a BEAUTIFUL post!!! Thanks so much! :)

Brilliant Asylum said...

Chatsworth is amazing--and HUGE. I think I have a photo of it from one of my first posts. I get the BBC version and the Keira Knightly version of P&P all mixed up in my mind, but I loved them both. I should watch it again this week.


Oh--and I loved the Bright Young Things film too, though it has been ages since I have seen it. I remember it being pretty funny.

LIBERTY POST EDITOR said...

I do want to see this film. I do like faded chintz. Really faded.Almost bleached out. Sounds like a wonderful location and set. Thanks. Happy Holidays from Canada!

Jennifer Ramos said...

I actually enjoyed Kiera's GREEN dress, it was so amazing! I heard they made it specially for her. NICE!

Jen Ramos
'Earth Friendly DESIGNER Cards'
www.madebygirl.com

nunu pepe' said...

Set design, I keep searching the internet for images of interior sets from movies especially the older gamourous "pictures" where they say things like 'my dear' and "I shan't' any ideas??
PS: cool post

Patricia Gray said...

I just got back from seeing Atonement and had to check out your post on it. Must say that I found the movie terribly sad. Beautiful house, sad lives. I do love the British slipcovered look, so casual in such magnificent architecture. The house looked much better in the movie with that ghastly wing removed. Thanks for doing this post. Oh and I guess from all the comments I need to see Gosford Park again.

Paola said...

Hi there,

Just found this great post and your blog while I was searching for images for my post about Atonement.

I was finding it amusing that you need subtitles for 'Gosford Park' when I remembered that I could have done with subtitles while watching the West Wing.

(Chatsworth is believed to be Jane Austen's model for Pemberley, so it was great that they could actually arrange filming there. It is absolutely stunning and in the most amazingly beautiful natural location - the most gorgeous of any stately home I've been to.)

Anonymous said...

The green dress looks stunning on her.

-Zane of ontario honey