Monday, January 21, 2008

Rebecca - 1997 Masterpiece Theatre Production

Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier, is my all time favorite book. I have read it probably ten times in my adult life. All of my favorite genres are between the covers of this book: romance, mystery, suspense, drama, and tragedy.

If you have not read Rebecca, I will do my best not to spoil the plot. Trust me, the following synopsis does not ruin the surprising twists and turns of this book.

The narrator, who remains nameless, is obsessed with her predecessor, Rebecca. An interloper in her own home, the narrator's imagination runs wild. She interprets every word and look as a comparison to Rebecca. She hears Rebecca's steps behind her and smells her scent in every room. But even she can't imagine what truly transpired at Manderley.

There have been two film adaptions (that I know of) of Rebecca. One by Alfred Hitchcock in the 1940s. And the Masterpiece Theatre rendition in 1997. I can't say I'm a fan of either.

But given the two, I would choose the '97 production. The script stays much closer to the book.

But here are my problems with it:
  • Max De Winter is not nearly as brooding or detached.
  • The narrator does not reach the levels of panic that she did in the book..
  • The car & cliff scene does not make any sense. Unrelated phrases were pulled from the book paired with unmatched emotion and a skid by the cliff. Really!! Why did they tamper with a perfectly good scene from the book??
  • They added and elaborated on the ending. This was totally unnecessary and only fed the next point...
  • They changed Mrs. Danvers from a insane neurotic to a jealous, sad lover. If you know the book...well, shall we say this is introducing an alternative lifestyle? to speak.

There was one deviation from the book that I liked: Faye Dunaway's performance as Mrs. Van Hopper. In the book, Mrs. Van Hopper was a social leech. She attached herself to anyone of the faintest notoriety.

Faye Dunaway's characterization of Mrs. Van Hopper was a middle aged woman trying to catch a rich husband. She did a great job and that change did not compromise the plot. In fact, I think Faye Dunaway's performance was one of the more enjoyable parts of the movie!

My recommendation: read the book!! If you still can't get enough, like me, watch both versions of the movie. Let me know which you prefer!

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