As you must have guessed from the headline, we are going to talk about the sensational Gothic novel written by Daphne du Maurier named Rebecca. Published in 1938, the story follows a young woman who impetuously marries a wealthy widower, only to discover that he and his household are haunted by the memory of his late wife, Rebecca, who happens to be his first wife.
The book is a best-seller that has never gone out of print. It sold a record-breaking 2.8 million copies between 1938 and 1965.
Maurier won the National Book Award for the favorite novel of 1938, voted by members of the American Booksellers Association. Subsequently, in 2017, it was voted the UK’s favorite book of the past 225 years in a poll by bookseller W.H Smith.
Rebecca was one of the first bestselling psychological-horror book. The novelette explores many emotions of the psyche such as – love, jealousy, revenge, brutality, horror, and haunting. It makes the reader convinced to uphold fidelity as a virtue.
There have been several adaptations of Rebecca on stage and screen, including a 1939 play by du Maurier herself, and the film Rebecca (1940), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Recently the book has come to light again for its Netflix remake directed by Ben Wheatly. Yet the 1940 adaptation remains a classic with an astounding 100% applaud from the critics while the remake has a 50-50 response.
Hitchcock’s film excelled in every department, be it production, direction, acting, writing, and, photography. The director soon rose as a household name for his spine trickling thrillers that are watched by the movie buffs to date. With limited equipment back in the ’40s, Hitchcock toiled hard to capture every detail of the book, justifying each of its characters.
It is indeed next to impossible to reproduce the magnanimity of the classic and Wheatly’s attempt came under the same pressure and expectations which is probably why the reception has been dull.
Netflix Rebecca stars Lily James as Mrs. De Winters who does her best to charm the audience. As per the plot, she is supposed to be naïve and under-dressed but her costumes were splendid. From pantsuits to florals, she was a breeze of fresh air. Only the film is set in the early ’90s when balls and gowns were a thing, so what she wore is technically obnoxious for the men and women in the book’s timeline. Thankfully the current generation is more into minimalistic comfort clothing which is why the reception to her clothes is positive. Yet she somehow failed to do justice to the character. An unpopular opinion: Lilly could have been replaced with Audrey Tautou or Dakota Johnson as they have already played similar roles and nailed it.
Armie Hammer as Maxin De Winter, the master of Manderley, oozes out hotness from his very first frame till the last. He is so very charming that in the entire film one’s eyes are simply glued to him. Armie does his best as De Winter leaving no stone unturned. And again, his costumes were totally Pinterest worthy.
Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs. Danvers plays the most crucial and sinister part as throughout the film we don’t really see Rebecca but the whole house is talking about her. It is she who creates the premonition of horror with her stern look.
But somehow the film failed to haunt or create suspense, living up to its expectations. There is no tinge of horror as well. It’s still a good watch if you are looking for some thrillers this Halloween. All credits to the grandeur with which it is made.