October 29, 2014

Rebecca

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After having produced the picture that would forever exemplify what it means to be an epic, David O. Selznick came roaring back with another hotly anticipated film based on a best-selling novel. Rebecca was director Alfred Hitchcock's American debut, and it would be the first and only film of his celebrated career that would win the coveted Best Picture prize. And what a film it is...what's not to adore about Rebecca? It's a sweeping, opulent picture, much like its Best Picture predecessor, but with a twisted romance and rather sinister undertones. It's certainly one of the more inspired Best Picture wins, given that up until this point most of the Best Pictures could be regarded as typical Academy-friendly or "safe" fare. Typically they'd fall under one or more of the following categories: the always prevalent War film (Wings, All Quiet on the Western Front), the epic tale taking place in different time periods (Cimarron, Cavalcade, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Great Ziegfeld, Gone with the Wind), the crowd pleaser (Grand Hotel, It Happened One Night), or the picture that carry a weight of importance, whether it be new technology (The Broadway Melody) or social issue importance (The Life of Emile Zola, You Can't Take it With You). Rebecca stands out from the rest for a number of reasons; its suspenseful and surrealistic nature, its study of intimate human relations and psychoanalysis, its elements of gothic romance and horror, its underlying homosexual subtext...there's much to find refreshing and daring about this film (especially given the time in which it was made), and one could argue that the aforementioned factors would make a hard sell as a Best Picture winner for the Academy even today. But Rebecca soars under the meticulous direction of the man who would be known as the Master of Suspense; he has an eye for film that is so much more understood and gripping than any other filmmaker of that time. With lush cinematography and a hypnotic score, there's a dreaminess to Rebecca that makes it ethereal and creepy all at once...you feel like you're in a daze, kind of like the second Mrs. de Winter herself. The film's last act can be a bit of a chore, and is much too talkative and grounded when contrasted to the dreamlike feel of the first hour...not even Hitchcock can save such a dramatic shift in tone and atmosphere. But at its worse the film is still compelling, and at its best it's gorgeously mesmerizing.

4 comments:

  1. I love this movie so much!

    What you have to say about Anderson and Sanders? <3

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    1. I liked Anderson a lot! And I thought Sanders was actually really annoying, which I'm not sure is a bad thing or a testament to how well he can play a cad...

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  2. It's one of the best, for sure. And I can imagine a tough campaign, as Grapes was probably the favourite.

    But worry not, they really screwed it up the following year with How Green... :D

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    1. I can hardly wait to watch How Green is My Valley :P reading the synopsis just makes me wet with excitement.

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