Friday, February 19, 2010

Movie Review: Rebecca

If you are a writer or simply a lover of good writing, read Daphne Du Maurier's Rebbecca. This has been my favorite Du Maurier books (and truthfully, just one of my favorite books all around) for many years. (Quick note on Du Maurier for those unfamiliar with her. She is a rather interesting English author with a love of the mysterious often with hints of the supernatural thrown in. Some of her books are great. Some are just weird).

Any ways, the writing in Rebbecca is gorgeous--there's just no other word for it. Her ability to write a chilling ghost story which has absolutely no ghosts or other supernatural elements actually in it is incredible. The book itself has some of the most incredible descriptions that make me--as a writer--despair of ever being able to write something great.

In short, it is everything a book should be: perfectly developed plot, great suspense coupled with sympathetic round characters, and scintillating description.

Any ways, for many years, I've wanted to see Sir Alfred Hitchcock's version of Rebbecca. A few months ago, Chris and I watched a BBC version of Rebbecca - very well done, good interpretation of the book, etc. But I still wanted to watch how the master of suspense would tackle this book.

And initially, I was impressed. It's a black and white (1940's) movie. The character development is well shown. Much of the wording and description is taken straight out of the book itself. The filming is obviously typical Hitchcock (and therefore excellent). The suspense builds. The lighting plays on your mood. And, as it's a 1940's film, the violin wails in the background at all the right parts. For the unfamiliar with the story, the hints of supernatural and mystery would be nail-biting (when you know the end of the story, it does lose a bit of it's power).

And then we got to the best part of the story when the truth begins to come out and climax is being reached and the characters are frantically having to make choices about what they believe, who they will stand by..........and Hitchcock missed it. Suddenly he skips entire chapters in the book. Loses the build up of suspense and description that Du Maurier gave her story. What should have been the most moving scenes of the film with the audience cheering on the protagonist and watching true love win, gets totally lost in the shuffle of "we have to get this film over and done with".

Most disappointed. Read the book. Watch the BBC version. I can't recommend Hitchcock's version. The Master has failed me.

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