World News – CA – How faithful is Rebecca’s new film to Daphné du Maurier’s book?



The last adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca in 1938, which arrives on Netflix Wednesday, follows the anonymous narrator of the book, identified in the film’s credits only as Mme de Winter, her married name – as she meets and marries a wealthy widower in Monte Carlo While living in her beautiful English coastal estate Manderley, she devours herself with jealousy of the deceased first wife of her new husband, the titular Rebecca, who appears to have been universally revered by all who knew her

Below, we outline all the ways the film, directed by Ben Wheatley, stacks up against du Maurier’s brooding bestseller, including how its famous plotline unfolds. Needless to say, spoilers to come

In the film, the romantic male lead role is played by Armie Hammer, who is extremely handsome in a sort of standard piece, which is very different from how the narrator describes Maxim in the book: “He belonged to a 15th century walled town, a town of narrow, cobbled streets and thin spiers, where the locals wore pointy shoes and combed pipes His face was striking, sensitive, medieval in a strange inexplicable way « 

This medieval-looking Maxim exudes aloof control When the two first eat lunch together, the narrator describes him as having a « quality of detachment. » As readers, we come to believe that the motives of de Winter are suspicious: he is, like many romantic heroes, powerful, impenetrable and intensely appealing, but perhaps not quite good – a combination of qualities which, as Laura Miller points out in her review of the new film for Slate , the most beautiful Hammer has trouble transmitting

Armie Hammer is also only three years older than Lily James, the female lead in the film, while in the book Maxim is 42, almost double the age of the heroine. that you are young enough to be my daughter, ”Maxim tells the narrator as their relationship shifts from the Platonic realm to something more. This age gap is no small feat; he provides much of the drama in this couple’s relationship, and he seems conspicuously absent from the movie

Lily James is the kind of radiant young woman you can imagine a wealthy middle-aged widower on if he happened to meet her in a Monte Carlo hotel The narrator of the novel, meanwhile, has a look trite, in which she puts in very little work (She describes herself as a « crude ex-schoolgirl, with red elbows and long hair. At first you think du Maurier’s narrator must think herself uglier and less groomed than she is. is not, but then comments from outside observers confirm that her hair is indeed « thin » and that her clothes do not fit.

The movie puts James in baggy dresses, but she’s just stunning and it’s hard to hide The glamor mismatch between Maxim and his new wife was important to the couple’s dynamics in the book, setting the narrator apart. of Maxim’s first wife, and the film’s lack of age difference once again blurs their relationship In the book, the narrator’s lack of worldly experience appeals to Maxim, and we suppose he finds this refreshing for the usual reasons that powerful men like to be worshiped by young women. To put it more sympathetically, the narrator’s youth and lower class status means that she seems more genuine to Maxim than other women he knows. (« It’s a shame that you have to grow up, » he said, after confessing his love, quite openly and without cunning)

But as the book progresses, Maxim’s attitude towards the narrator’s youth begins to sound condescending. He is « abrupt » to her after she knocks over one of the many glasses and vases of flowers that she awkwardly breaks during the story He scolds her for biting her nails and, although she hates visiting, makes her fulfill their social obligations with a stiff upper lip, showing little sympathy for her discomfort Mme de Winter is irritated by this attitude, feeling like a favorite girl or a companion dog: « I wish he hadn’t always treated me like a child, rather spoiled, rather irresponsible, someone to stroke. from time to time when the mood came to him but more often forgotten, more often patted on the shoulder and told to run away to play « All of this is lost throwing the couple close to age and equal beauty of James and Hammer

In the film, the first time Maxim and the narrator kiss, they kiss deeply, like From Here to Eternity, on a secluded beach Lips locked, the two beautiful sons are covered in sand and bathed in golden sun When the narrator tells her employer that she is getting married, the employer warns her: « When you take a man between your legs, he does not stay around for long » It is a long way from the much less passionate beginning of the engagement romance, which presents nothing more intimate than kind words and a kiss on the head

In fact, there is a certain disturbing coldness in the court story of the novel The narrator convinces herself that she doesn’t care that Maxim’s proposal is professional or that he doesn’t want to have a big chic wedding, although her fantasies suggest that she really cares Over time, she will come back to this as proof that Maxim doesn’t like her – not like he loves Rebecca Without that initial split, he’s harder for the film to show the widening gap between the two as time goes on

Du Maurier’s novel makes much of the narrator’s marriage « up » and the resulting awkwardness The new Mrs. de Winter feels that the servants don’t like her, thinking, after meeting Mrs. Danvers, that the governess « despised me, marking with all the snobbery of her class that I was not a great lady, that I was humble, shy and shy » The narrator of the novel also notices, for example, the « magnificence » of the little ones – lunches at Manderley, describing the broadcast the servants provide her and Maxim as “enough for a dozen people” She wonders how strange it is that Maxim has eaten this way for years, “n ‘ seeing nothing ridiculous, nothing wasteful « 

But by the end of the novel, the narrator accepted the great expenditure of resources she sees around her at the estate, even adding to it by ordering the staff to provide the couple with something new to eat in a meal. donated, rather than reusing leftovers from a recent party « Either way, there’s so much trash in this house that a little more won’t make any difference, » she tells Ms Danvers, proving that she is slowly but surely reconciles with the unfair advantages of his new station

This intricate class drama is downplayed in the film – maybe because he wants to spend more time on romance, or maybe because the book’s dynamic is very British, as the film is being marketed. to audiences around the world

The film shows Mrs. de Winter « growing up » by her actions: she takes charge of planning a costume ball at Manderley, overcoming her fear of being a hostess, choosing menus and flowers. Soon after, the famous twist occurs, with Maxim confessing to him that Rebecca, who was secretly a deceptive psychopath, did not die in an accident at sea, but that he killed her, which also happens in the book (Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation deferred by making Rebecca’s death an accident that Maxim tried to cover up) There is a lawsuit, and Mrs. de Winter raids Rebecca’s doctor’s offices in a daring nocturnal plot, seeking to steal crucial evidence that she fears will condemn her husband

This is way more than the novel Mrs. de Winter ever handles The story is mostly about watching events unfold, not about her actions in relation to them Someone else is planning the ball costumed, and she just attends and has a horrible time, to boot And as authorities investigate Maxim’s involvement in Rebecca’s death, most of Winter does is swoon at the investigation and get out of bed. generally worry about the touch

The film condenses the investigation into Rebecca’s murder into a single trial, whereas in the novel it is a longer process, with a coroner’s inquest in which Maxim is cleared of his wrongdoing, then a backstage sequence in which Rebecca’s cousin and lover comes to Manderley to present evidence and accuse Maxim again.In the film and in the book, Maxim is exonerated because the fact that Rebecca had terminal cancer is revealed, this which gives him a possible reason to commit suicide

However, in the novel, the magistrate following the cousin’s charge is a man who had previously been to Manderley for social occasions.He gives Maxim the gentleman’s treatment, allowing him to remain in Manderley during the night, instead of being taken to jail, as they investigate He also apologizes profusely throughout the proceedings, advising Maxim, when cleared, to travel abroad to avoid gossip Obviously, Maxim’s privilege as the wealthy owner of a famous house helped him avoid blame for a crime he actually committed

As Miller argues in his review, the new film treats the narrator’s experience at Manderley as a coming-of-age tale She Comes to the Estate young and in love; She learns to stand up for herself Some of this happens to Mrs. de Winter in the novel, but the story of her growth isn’t all about empowerment – or at least, not just empowerment When Maxim gives her says, towards the end of the film and the novel, « You lost that funny lost look that you had, » he mourns his loss of innocence. But at the end of the film, as we watch the lovers make poodles in a hotel room, it seems like everything went well By the end of the novel you’re not so sure the narrator has learned the right lessons by staying with a husband who killed his last wife You are also not sure that these two – a woman who is no longer innocent and a husband who loves control a little too much – are destined for eternal happiness

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Rebecca, Netflix, Lily James, Armie Hammer, Daphne du Maurier, Ben Wheatley, Alfred Hitchcock, Mme de Winter

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