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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rebecca (1940)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson

Rebecca (1940)
A beautiful young woman marries a rich widower. Only to find out his mind is still quite occupied with memories of his charming dead wife.

Rebecca is the most complete cinematic education. Even after so many years, it is an unparalleled example in terms of shrewd direction. Alfred Hitchcock's trademark suspense is there as always; with the subtle representation of characters being backbone of the movie.

From the beginning till almost the end Mr. de Winter (Laurence Oliver) maintains an eccentric and somewhat unpredictable persona--reason being; death of his beloved, well-bred, sophisticated, and immaculate wife Rebecca. But there is so much more to it. Nearing the end you get to see some never thought of twists. You get to witness the class of Hitchcock.

After a while (in the second half of the film), you stop thinking there will be anymore unforeseen developments now--only some hidden secret about a particular character will be revealed. So, you aren't involved in any guess works and suddenly there is the bolt from the blue, trademark Hitchcock twist. Watch the movie and you will be awe-struck too!

The evil aura around Mrs.Danvers is what Maestro wants the audience to focus at, and they do. She completely adores Rebecca and a slight lesbianism can't be denied. Her fling with Rebecca's cousin makes it even more interesting. You become a detective and Hitchcock laughs! What a genius!

The best thing about the movie is character of 2nd Mrs.de Winter and its perfect representation. This is something you do associate Hitchcock with. His movies always study the female characters in-depth. Joan Fontaine's (2nd Mrs.de Winter) portrayal of character is perfection personified. She plays a middle class girl who suddenly gets married to a rich man and has to move into the huge Manderley mansion. Her awkwardness is so real--while transiting from middle class living to a high society. Fontaine's body language makes you wonder whether it's acting or actually happening with hidden cameras fitted around!

The Director's strength has always been his implicit narration, at times it is too much and seems baseless (like it was in case of The Birds). Here, this  narration is accurate and abstract. For Example, 2nd Mrs. de Winter's name isn't even used once in the whole movie. All such background details have been left to the audience's discretion.

World Cinema won't be complete without this masterpiece.


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