Unfortunately, althought this version of Du Maurier's classic follows the book very closely and is over 2 hours longer than the original 1940s film, it just doesn't measure up to either Hitchcock or the book. Hitchcock downplays Du Maurier's portrayal of the strange relationship between men and women. Men are omnipotent---women, merely serve. Rebecca, too strong must go. Hitchcock plays up the Gothic touches with fog, music and a weakly played Max De Winter. The nameless heroine gathers strength as Rebecca is revealed to be intrinsically evil. But this is not Du Maurier's 'Rebecca'. In the book there is no win in the ending---the heroine simply remains a caretaker as she was in the beginning of the novel; her charge has changed from Mrs. Van Hopper to Maxim. The couple drifts like sad wanderers from place to place; as Du Maurier puts it, "There is no resurrection." In this adaptation and in Hitchcock, love seems to conquer all---an idea completely alien and misunderstood by most readers of Du Maurier.
First and foremost, the girl playing the narrator is not gauche or dependent enough--she has too much spunk and sparkle lurking behind the lank hair and the school girl dresses. Fontaine was ever so much more desperate to please as I think Du Maurier's heroine was meant to be. Du Maurier doesn't even give her a name. Dame Diana Rigg is an equally austere Mrs Danvers, but her portrayal is much too sad, not malicious enough and definitely suggests a [physical] attraction to her former mistress which seems mournful rather than simply obsessive like DuMaurier's character in the novel or Dame Anderson's character in Hitchcock's film. Charles Dance is not as taut nerved as Olivier, but he passes as an okay Max DeWinter with perhaps a third of Olivier's charm. Still, he comes off as weak as does Olivier in Hitchcock's version---neither fully portraying the strong silent brooding character of Maxim in the book. Lastly, giving Rebecca a voice and a body, is a mistake. Du Maurier's book is so compelling simply because we don't know anything about Rebecca and hence can envision whatever femme fatale we choose--the real Rebecca is a ghost; she remains a mystery to the very end--we don't know if she is really malevolent---we only have Maxim's word--or excuse for his own violent actions. We don't even understand her motives fully even after the production moves to the final scene at Manderley.
Nevertheless, if you simply love everything 'Rebecca', you will at least like this version, but, I guarantee it will provoke you to find a copy of the Hitchcock version at your local rental store or better yet a worn copy of the book at your library!
- Region 4
- Standard Edition
- 1.78 : 1
- Dolby Digital Stereo
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