Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Rebecca

Rebecca is a 2020 British romantic thriller film directed by Ben Wheatley and stars Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas. The film is based on the 1938 novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, author of many other popular adaptations like My Cousin Rachel, Jamaica Inn, and the short story The Birds. Rebecca starts with the main character, Mrs. de Winter (Lily James), talking about a dream she had the night before about going back to her home, Manderley, which the audience is left to assume is no longer standing. The events of the film take place in the past and are examined through the memories of Mrs. de Winter, starting from her time in Monte Carlo as a lady’s companion to the rich and old Mrs. Van Hopper (Ann Dowd). Eventually the 20 something year-old meets the older Mr. Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), and widower, and the two start a friendship that eventually turns romantic. When the future Mrs. de Winter’s employer tells her they are leaving the hotel, she goes to see Maxim to say goodbye. Not wanting to lose her, Maxim asks the young woman to marry him. They honeymoon in Europe and then Mr. de Winter takes his new bride home to Manderley, where she quickly begins to feel uncomfortable. This is mostly due to the head housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), who was incredibly loyal to the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, having known the dead woman as a child. Though she tries to make an effort to adapt to her new home, it soon becomes clear to the second Mrs. de Winter that she is unwelcome in Manderley and that her husband is keeping secrets from her. In this blog post I will examine the main character, the second Mrs. de Winter, and look at changes made to scenes between the Netflix original film and du Maurier’s novel. 

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