Shooting the five minute Dunkirk beach scene for Atonement was arguably the toughest portion of shooting for the entire film. The shooting schedule dictated that the scene must be completed in two days. However the location scouts report indicated the lighting quality at the beach was not good enough until the afternoon of the second day.
This forced director Joe Wright to change his shooting strategy into shooting with one camera. The scene was rehearsed on the first day and on the morning of the second day. The scene required five takes and the third take was used in the film.
On shooting, Steadicam operator Peter Robertson shot the scene by riding on a small tracking vehicle, walking off to a bandstand after rounding a boat, moved to a ramp, stepped onto a rickshaw, finally dismounting and moving past the pier into a bar.
For all it's difficulty, does it make it into anyones best War Movie Scenes list? I can't think of any that have the scope of this scene, even Saving Private Ryan's much lauded beach scene had a much narrower scope than this.