Rebecca (1997 United Kingdom)

rebecca_03With this superb 1997 adaptation, you are able to see a more deeper version of both Max and the second Mrs. DeWinter’s characters played by Charles Dance and Emilia Fox. You see that they are in love in this version whereas in the Hitchcock version, it’s not so obvious. You also get a better sense of Mrs. Danvers’ character who you almost feel sorry for in this adaptation. Additionally, you’ll see a few glimpses of what the beautiful Rebecca might look like.

All I can say is that this is better than what I expected! It can captivate every possible type of viewer with its rich tapestry of ideas and emotions in the underlying plot. Charles Dance as Maxim de Winter is effectively dashing in the role. In this version, he portrays Max as more romantic – something which adds a touch of realism and allows for a different perspective of his character. (Laurence Olivier was quite distant and slightly artificial in the 1940 film). Emilia Fox as the second Mrs. de Winter is adequate, and plays her character with the perfect amount of insecurity over the haunting presence of Max’s first wife, Rebecca.

Fox also presents her character as nothing but loving and dedicated towards her much older husband. The passion and romance helps justify many a scene in this version, presented very aesthetically and with realism. The romance and chemistry between the two lead actors is sincerely convincing and very appealing. Dame Diana Rigg as Mrs. Danvers is superb, as she almost shows Mrs. Danvers to be in love with Rebecca, but not in a socially acceptable manner for that era. Rigg uses her built-in charisma to project the tragic, lost individual her character clearly is, rather than being a 100% villain.

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Remaining supporting cast of Faye Dunaway as the pleasantly extrovert Mrs. Van Hopper and Jonathan Cake as the wild living, slightly devilish cousin of Rebecca, Jack Favell, are perfectly suited to their respective characters. ‘Rebecca’ also highlights many social taboos and difficulties experienced by the upper classes of the late 1920’s, something which is executed faultlessly in this adaptation, and is also something which helps you to justify why Maxim did what he did. All in all, it has everything that makes for compelling viewing: murder, social taboo, romance, tears…the viewer gets involved. This version is a very good rendering of the story, better than even the Hitchcock film. First of all, the three hours are needed to be able to include all the events from the novel.

Also, it follows the novel very faithfully – except for the fire scene in the end, in which the producers must have become temporarily insane..? I miss one thing in this version though: the eerie spookiness of it all. The suggestion – which is also there in the novel – that the first Mrs de Winter is still in the house. Either as a ghost, or that she is not dead, but that she staged the accident and is keeping herself hidden somewhere in the house. Coming out sometimes at night and make a disturbance in the house. Maybe to find out how fast Mr de Winter would remarry if she died..? There is no suggestion at all of anything like that in this version, and no ghostly atmosphere at all – the creepiness comes altogether from human beings. But it is a fairly solid way to be entertained on a cosy evening.

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