World News – AU – Hitchcock’s Rebecca was perfect – why did Netflix feel allowed to ‘update’ it?


The 1940 film was an Oscar-winning masterpiece, with a clever cast and gorgeous score The remake is none of these

It was not an easy task for the new Rebecca, released today on Netflix, because who can work in the shadow of Alfred Hitchcock? After The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes, he did a perfect version of Rebecca in 1940, which won the Best Picture at the Oscars, but her name strayed from Rebecca, probably because it’s more associated with Daphné du Maurier: it can only be a name above the title Eighty Years, it is also a long period in the history of cinema; viewers today see Jaws as an old movie

The original Rebecca is in black and white, undeniably mannered, with an opera score by Franz Waxman So I understand why Netflix and Working Title thought a new Rebecca was due Maybe they thought it wasn’t would not be as good as the original, but it might offer something interesting

But this Rebecca has it all wrong I saw her in the cinema, and it was like watching Poirot at the IMAX First, the casting of the leads: too pretty, I cried, when I saw the pretty face of Lily James Du Maurier’s daughter – and Maxim’s second wife – was « a raw ex-schoolgirl, with red elbows and oversized hair », inexplicably married to the aristocratic Maxim, whose first wife Rebecca has died must believe that she does not consider herself worthy of Maxim – “gripping, sensitive, medieval in an inexplicable way” Otherwise, why is Rebecca haunting her? James’ daughter is playing dowdy, but nothing more She shrugged and will shrug again

Arnie Hammer is wrong as Maxim too I just don’t believe this great American is a tortured English aristocrat who killed his first wife out of pride Hammer is not without talent He looked superb in The Social Network as an aggrieved Harvard man, but he’s wrong here; there is nothing haunted about him James is not without talent either She was wonderful in Mamma Mia 2, but she never asked anyone to pretend she was not beautiful This is a common Hollywood mistake to confuse the beautiful as damned, but the casting pool is so small with the fair, where do you find a prominent woman these days?

Drifting, Kristin Scott Thomas’ stunning Mrs. Danvers – Rebecca’s familiar and possible lover – is taller than she should be She eats the movie and imbalances the love story here – so you read Rebecca as a love story, what i don’t do is a movie about inadequacy – stands between Danvers and Rebecca You want more of her, and less of them

In the novel, Maxim murders Rebecca, but in 1940 the Hollywood Production Code didn’t allow a murderer to go unpunished He was demoted to manslaughter There was an opportunity here for the new Rebecca This could have been a film about a bisexual narcissist and her murderous husband, told from the point of view of her new victim; it could have broken our obsession with the aristocracy

There’s a scene in a car, with music, where this tale starts to bloom – where something original goes up in this Rebecca – but it flies off The movie problem mirrors the girl’s problem She doesn’t know whether she should love or hate Maxim; the production unit either; neither does the spectator

Hitchcock couldn’t have made this film in 1940. He wanted Robert Donat for Maxim but took Laurence Olivier, who delivered a superb performance; that is, for once, he didn’t act too much He’s abrupt and distracted Olivier wanted his lover Vivien Leigh to play the girl, but Hitchcock didn’t want to: Leigh was too beautiful The idea was laughable , and Leigh’s screen test, which is online, proves it: she could only have played Rebecca

Hitchcock chose 19-year-old Joan Fontaine instead. She wasn’t a beauty by 1940s Hollywood standards Olivier said he « didn’t really understand what Max de Winter was seeing in her ”, which is surely the point. She was small and fearful, just like her character Olivier said“ she hardly spoke to me at all ”, but later admitted“ she gave an amazing performance ” That’s because Hitchcock isolated her from the rest of the cast, reminded her that Olivier didn’t like her – she wasn’t Leigh – and hinted that he would replace her Once, when she couldn’t cry on set anymore, he slapped her and she cried again So she became the second Mrs. de Winter

It’s a truism that many great movies are created by tension, and Hitchcock and Selznick got into a fight Hitchcock wanted to do something really original, as always He wrote flashbacks that showed Rebecca – surely she was more powerful as a ghost? – and tried to make the girl more aggressive Selznick was more careful He clung to the source material He had Hitchcock rewrite the script according to du Maurier’s dialogue

Hitchcock responded with wonderfully inventive camera work and directing, and intimidating his female star If It Was A Battle Between Selznick And Hitchcock, Rebecca Won Selznick Over Hitchcock And Had Him Filmed Maurier, not Hitchcock The result is, superficially, a pleasant romance with something rotten underneath Du Maurier loved it, as did the reviews So there you have it: a second version, still haunted by the original That, at least, is true

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World News – AU – Hitchcock’s Rebecca was perfect – why did Netflix feel allowed to ‘update’ her?



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