From the novel of the same name by Daphne DuMaurier
A new bride has to deal with everyone’s memories of her husband’s previous (dead)(perfect) wife.
So it was 2020, and everyone was in lockdown. Mr. Otter and I were still having fun watching movies and TV series that we hadn’t seen, either ever or for a long time, but we also decided it was time for him to start reading aloud to me, which we both used to enjoy very much when we made time for it. This was one of the first books he read, and it was so good that he read for four or five hours straight at the end because neither of us could wait.
Then we had to see the movie…which was pretty good.
SPOILERS AHEAD (BOOK AND MOVIE)
Well, probably more than pretty good…the cast (Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson) were excellent, especially Anderson as the incredibly annoying and creepy Mrs. Danvers. The look of it and the cinematography are also excellent.
The problem that I had with this movie is basically that it’s not nearly as good as the book…which is often my problem with movies. This was good, but not nearly as detailed or atmospheric. Joan Fontaine’s character is so much more self-possessed and confidant than the character in the book, and her relationship with Maxim is much more of a love match; in the book, she is a shy and mousy girl, and is never sure where she stands with him, or indeed why he married her. Maxim in the movie has episodes of anger but is much more involved in his new marriage than he was.
Mrs. Danvers, however, is pretty much the same in both versions!
The biggest changes are at the end; because of the Hays Code (murder always has to be punished) Maxim watches Rebecca fall and hit her head and die; in the book, he shoots her and hides the body. At the end of the book, the current Mrs. DeWinter (who, by the way, has no name in the book and narrates the whole story) and Maxim are driving home and find Manderley in flames, and the implication is that Mrs. Danvers has burned the place down and herself with it; in the movie, Maxim is coming home from London, finds the house ablaze and rescues everyone but Mrs. Danvers.
That was a little too much rewriting for me…the movie was fine, but seriously? Read the book, it was amazing.