To sum up the movie Rebecca, there is a mysterious and extremely wealthy man named Mr. de Winter. He is a widow and apparently had the most amazing and extraordinary wife in all of France. Most described her as intelligent, delicate, and as Mr. de Winter's estate lawyer put it, "the most beautiful girl he had ever seen." Eventually Mr. de Winter meets a commoner on a trip and marries her. Upon her arrival to a giant, and almost too perfect mansion that the late Mrs. de winter also stayed at, almost everyone she encounters immediately compares her to Rebecca. Furthermore, creepy and traumatizing things start happening in the mansion that they live in and eventually some terrible secrets are uncovered.
Today, movies are a huge part of American culture and are a big part of entertainment across the country. As of right now, there has been one billion, three hundred and ten million movie tickets sold nation wide. This number surpasses last year's number by four million already and the year isn't even over. Classic movies are much forgotten in today's time but one that continues to live on is the film Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The movie is of impeccable quality and is very highly recommended for its shocking twists, complex characters, and sensational cinematography that only those who watch the movie a second time really understand.
There are so many exciting and somewhat eccentric twists in the movie Rebecca. My favorite twist in this movie is the one of her death. Originally everyone in the movie thought that she had set sea and met her death in a treacherous and frightening storm. This, however, was not the case. The night of her death, Mr. de Winter had met with Rebecca in a small, yet cozy, cottage the side of the mansion. There were boat supplies and dust surrounding the two while the tension around them began to slowly form a suffocating cloud around them. Then Rebecca, in the dim lighted and dusty cottage, admits to doing something completely despicable so Mr. de Winter can't control his anger any more. He reaches out with all of the blood rushing to face and strikes beautiful and cruel Rebecca right in the face! As she falls to the ground she hits her head and meets her death with a wicked smile on her face. So Rebecca hadn't committed suicide all along! This is just one of so many twists in the movie Rebecca that makes it great and worth watching.
The characters also bring quality and complex situations to the movie.
The one most interesting is the housemaid, Danny. Physically, this woman is medium height with her hair always braided up like some boarding school girl. She is ghostly white and wears no makeup. Her clothes are dull and she never ever smiles. She is overall very dark and scary looking. Her character is just how she looks. She holds a vendetta against the new Mrs. De Winter and at first is very subtle with her directs stabs at her, but then as the movie progresses the maid takes the new wife in to Rebecca's room and makes her relive sexual romances that Danny and Rebecca had experienced together. Eventually she admits her love for Rebecca through a window of the burning mansion and commits suicide while bursting into flames. Of the characters she is the best, but all of the characters in this movie are outstanding actors of their time adding to the amazing movie Rebecca.
The cinematography of this movie is outstanding. The lighting and placement of the characters seem to be flawless. The most important and beautiful scene in the entire movie is the scene where Mr. and Mrs. de Winter are reviewing their honeymoon film. The wife walks into a dark room with Mr. de Winter clearly agitated. It is quiet and dark and the room around them seems to become smaller and smaller. Mrs. de Winter is already upset. Her face is somehow fully lit and her husband stays completely in the dark and standing at an awkward angle. This shows that her husband is hiding something and that his wife is innocent and symbolizes something like an angel.
The movie business has been around for decades and will continue to thrive. Something to keep in mind as a person that enjoys movies is to no let classic and quality movies slip between the people's fingers due to time. Rebecca is a timeless and classic movie that includes exciting plot twists, genuine and relatable characters, and symbolic scenes. Do not let movies like this deteriorate over time.
Rebecca is, in many ways, a ghost story. The spirit in question is not manifested through spectral light or ectoplasm but through the dark emotional chasms of secrets that it has left behind. That Rebecca de Winter was young and beautiful deepens the loss. That she was privately scheming and manipulative helps us understand her husband's disorientation.
And yet, because this is a Hitchcock film there has to be some form of trickery on his part, a form audience manipulation that asserts his claim that he played us like a piano. What he does in this film is brilliant. He presents a central character, Rebecca de Winter, and never once has her appear on screen. Her story is the entire movie, but there are no flashbacks, no photographs, no voice-overs, no actress credited with the role. Rebecca exists in dialogue and set decoration. We see her bedroom, her closets, her old possessions, her furniture, but we never see her. Her presence is there but she is not. At one point, Mr. de Winter tells his new wife about the night that Rebecca died. As he speaks, the camera focuses and on an empty couch and the camera follows the invisible Rebecca as she gets up and walks toward him. The character is made up of memory and words. It's a beautiful trick that plays with our minds - the camera movements create her even though she's not really there. Rebecca's absence was easy to pull off in Daphne du Maurier's book, but it takes skill to do this in a film.
That's not the limit of Hitchcock's trickery. This was the first film he made after coming to Hollywood and you can already see some of the great tricks that he would later employ. One constant throughout his work is that he begins the film one way and then turns it into another. The outward framework of Rebecca is an uneasy love story between a dowdy American girl (Joan Fontaine) and the wealthy but emotionally damaged Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier), Rebecca's surviving husband. The film opens in the south of France with Mr. de Winter leaning over a precipitous cliff overlooking the sea, contemplating suicide. He is saved by a shy young woman (Joan Fontaine) who is working as the traveling companion to Mrs. Van Hopper (Florence Bates), a stuffy old bat who talks too much. The young woman is our guide for the rest of the story despite the fact that she is never given a proper name.
The couple meet and seem to have nothing in common. Despite their obvious differences, they fall in love and get married. From immediate appearances, there is no reason that these two should be together. They come from two separate social stations and two completely different personalities, but Maxim makes it clear that there is something genuine in the way feels about her. As the trip comes to a close, he brings her home to his ancestral country estate of Manderlay where his wife, the beloved Rebecca, died a year earlier. Based on what transpires for the rest of the film, it is fitting that the new Mrs. de Winter first arrives at the house during a violent thunderstorm.
In these few scenes Hitchcock does what he does best, he establishes a story that seems to be leading in a certain direction and then switches tracks so we find ourselves in a different kind of story. Based on the social differences between Maxim and his new bride, one might expect a comedy of errors or maybe a diabolical plot by Mr. de Winter to lead her into a web of deception (or vice versa). But there is something much more going on, something much deeper than we might at first realize. This is not a story about a murder in an old dark house, but about the lingering secrets stowed away in a man's heart and about the curious power of grief and mourning. A year earlier, Rebecca de Winter, Maxim's first wife drowned in a boating accident not far from the house. We can feel the impact of that death through the funerary tone established by those she left behind.
What is best achieved in Rebecca is the somber atmosphere of a house in the weeks after the funeral has ended and the mourners have gone home. Manderley is still haunted by memories of Rebecca's youth and beauty and the sadness of her tragic death, and yet also the unfinished deceptions that are unspoken. What Rebecca left, we come to understand, was not a pure woman of wholesome beauty but a snake who deceived and plotted. That explains more of the behavior of those she's left behind.
For most of the film Hitch establishes that he is the master of his canvas, making us feel the tone of the story without having to express everything in words. The light and shadows of the interior of the house (brought to life by cinematographer George Barnes) giving the feeling of a mausoleum. In this crypt-like setting comes a character that is one of the great oddities of American literature. Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), the head housekeeper is as stiff and immobile as Mr. de Winter. Bird-like, dressed in black and with a smooth, cool voice, she moves through Manderlay like a wraith, protecting Rebecca's memory (her motions and her appearance remind us of Dracula). She is at odds with the new Mrs. de Winter, feeling that she has come to try and replace Rebecca. It doesn't take long before we realize that Mrs. Danvers' devotion to the late Rebecca more than borders on the obsessive.
Du Maurier's novel made no bones about the obvious question of lesbian feelings in Mrs. Danvers toward Rebecca. Nor is the movie despite Hitch's fight with the censors. That's obvious in a moment when she shows Rebecca's bedroom to the young Mrs. de Winter, boldly opening her underwear drawer than introducing her to a negligee that she keeps hidden under a pillow case. She resents the new Mrs. de Winter and lets it be known that Maxim can never love her as he loved Rebecca. Later, at a moment of near-hypnotism, she tries to encourage the young woman the throw herself out of the third-story window.
Who is Mrs. Danvers? What was her connection with Rebecca? Late in the film, we learn that Rebecca wasn't quite the angelic personage that everyone seems to play up. She was an adulterer, and a bit of a con artist. Her connection with Mrs. Danvers is mysterious. Were they lovers? Or did she admire Rebecca from afar. Why does she use the "Mrs" salutation? Was she married? Why is she so protective of Mr. de Winter? Why is Rebecca's memory worth giving up her life? The fact that we don't know is the greatness of this story, a story in which most of the secrets remain hidden in the shadows.
The greatness of Hitchcock's work is his ability to build in us a sense of anticipation. His characters maintain dark secrets, some of which are revealed and some of which aren't. We engage our minds to figure them out and he leaves us with just enough to leave us curious about them. A lot is revealed in Rebecca but a great deal more remains unsaid.
Viewed this on 11/9/15
An extraordinary piece of cinema and the most underrated and overlooked films of director Hitchcock. Rebecca has more suspense than any other proclaimed Hitchcock films like Vertigo and Rear Window. Rebecca's atmosphere is so intense and for once, the sets of a Hitchcock film does not feel so cheap. Hitchcock directs the film with style and tension, keeping the audience at the edge of their seats. The lead actors Laurence Olivier, Jane Fontaine and Judith Anderson, all give fantastic performances. The film also keeps a good Gothic effect intact.