This week I’m looking at Rebecca directed by Alfred Hitchcock, my very first black and white movie and first Hitchcock movie! It was quite the experience and I was eager to watch it after reading the book which you can find my review of here.
These are the two main stars of the show, Laurence Olivier playing Maxim and Joan Fontaine playing the unnamed protagonist. I have to say the acting was brilliant because I despise both characters. Laurence Olivier played Maxim up really well with his moody, brooding ways and his fits where he would storm off. He also played the creepy, dominating older man that I didn’t like about him and whilst I quite liked Maxim in the book Olivier brought out the worst in him making me shudder! He didn’t actually look how I’d imagined Maxim, so I’m glad I read the book first, but he perfected Maxim’s character and I think he really got into the role well.
Joan Fontaine played the typical wet fish protagonist who is deluded by her love for Maxim and this picture displays her innocent little hopeful face as she tries to dote on Maxim and throw herself at him. She frustrated me beyond belief and I don’t think she really grew throughout the novel whereas I don’t think this was really seen on the film. Still, Fontaine played a brilliant role to act rather stupid if you ask me and I think she really got the insecure, naive young girl thing going for her that stayed true to du Maurier’s novel which is the most important thing if you ask me.
The relationship with Mrs Danvers was exactly how I’d imagined in the novel, if not better with the atmosphere that Hitchcock brought to the film with the swaying curtains and eerie sounds as well as all the mist. I even think filming it in black and white made it so much more sinister and the shades of white and black really made it so stark and atmospheric in those moments. Particularly this scene between Mrs Danvers and the unmanned protagonist at the window I was holding my breath to see what would happen. It was really exciting. I think for those who haven’t read the novel will find the tension even more suspenseful and engaging because Hitchcock really is a master.
I have to say the black and white filming didn’t take anything away for me and I think I enjoyed it more and felt that it was really dark and exciting filled with anticipation because of this, so don’t let it put you off if you’re afraid to try a black and white film. I’ll be eager to watch a few more even if the effects were totally comical I could enjoy the black and white style. I have to admit though I am too used to all the awesome technology of today that makes things look more realistic, however I still don’t think we’ve come that far when it comes to filming in a car because films I see today look nearly as corny as the rolling screen behind this!
The film was fairly true to the novel, I noticed a few changed scenes and skipped scenes along the way that made up ‘Rebecca’, but there was nothing drastic that totally detracted from my overall enjoyment of the film that made me think it ruined a masterpiece of literature. Therefore I was really happy with watching Rebecca as it stayed so true to the novel and I thought it really managed to capture every element.
I think the most exciting think was seeing Manderely as I’d had so many pictures in my head, but this exceeded my expectations. It was HUGE, like a mini-palace. I never expected it to be so big. In my head it was like a quarter of the size so it quite shocked me to see it on the big screen. However it was such a fabulously rich house that I did adore and was steeped in beauty and darkness that added to the tensions of Rebecca and feel that really rounded the film.
Spooky house right? Gives me the shivers just looking at it with those glowing windows.
Overall I really enjoyed Rebecca finding it suspenseful, enjoyable and really true to the book. I loved how the characters came to life and have to admit, although it was quite long and I laughed at some really corny bits, it’s a good film and Hitchcock did du Maurier real justice!