Rebecca 2020: Equal parts scared and excited!
Daphne du Maurier’s immensely popular classic Rebecca is being adapted into a new film. Now, the thing with adapting books to cinema, especially the old classics, is that you have got to find the perfect balance. The balance that is essential to make your film look good for an independent cinema goer while also not compromising on the material from which you’re adapting. Fans who have read the books usually aren’t satisfied with film adaptations and I include myself for the most parts. However, one film that I did love was the 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice.
Director Joe Wright did take a fair amount of creative liberties and deviated quite a bit from the novel, however the sheer cinematographic beauty that he dressed the film with is breathtaking. He changed the time period from the mid 1700s to the 1830s and that entailed changing costumes, surroundings and even temperaments of some characters. But the result was worth it. Joe Wright received a lot of backlash from hardcore Jane Austen devotees which compelled him to even cut the ending scene from the film for the UK release. But as someone who has read the novel for the entirety of four times and watched the film in equal measure, I would say that the changes he made ended up making the film absolutely right. I mean compressing a novel of over four-hundred pages into a 127 minute film while also maintaining the essence of it is not a particularly easy task.
Now it is left to see if the upcoming adaptation of Rebecca is any better or worse. The film is being directed by English filmmaker and screenwriter Ben Wheatly who has previously helmed movies like Kill List (2011) and A field in England (2013). I am going to jot down some of the factors in the new movie that has me a bit apprehensive.
The lead pair- English actress Lily James of Cinderella and Darkest Hour fame is going to reprise the role of the plain and naive Mrs. de Winter. Now Mrs. de Winter is described as a very plain woman in the book and Lily James is anything but. So it solely rests upon her acting prowess to convince the loyal du Maurier fans that she is the right choice for the part. Coming to the second lead, Armie Hammer who plays the handsome and brooding owner of Manderley Maxim de Winter, my biggest issue with him is that he is American and I personally am not usually convinced by American actors’ attempt at adopting an English accent. That may be a non-issue but it is a subtle mounting concern that will set the tone for the entire film and the main character. If he cannot convince us properly of a very basic trait of the character, chances are the audience will lose interest pretty early on.
Atmosphere of the film- As much as I could gauge from the first trailer of the film, the overall atmosphere of the film has me conflicted. On first look, I liked it but the more I watch it the more I am scared that it would turn out to be a trashy erotic version of the sparse and Gothic masterpiece of a novel. Let’s hope for the best.
Rebecca 1940- The biggest concern for the new adaptation will be topping the original adaptation. Alfred Hitchcock made a stunning first adaptation of the book in 1940 and that absolutely had the needed balance between making an independent movie while doing justice to the source material. Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier’s masterful portrayals of Mrs. de Winter and Maxim de Winter respectively, are hard to match. The hardest hurdle however, will be coming close to the scarily stunning performance of Judith Anderson as the frightening Mrs. Danvers. Kristin Thomas Scott in the new film’s trailer looks very promising and her performance is actually what I’m most looking forward to.