It’s always a risky idea to remake an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but when it comes to Ben Wheatley‘s Rebecca, we have nothing to worry about. According to Wheatley himself, this is definitely not a remake of the 1940 Hitchcock film. Instead, Wheatley is turning towards the original source material – the novel by Daphne du Maurier.
While Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca seems to be the gold-standard for the story of the second Mrs. de Winter, there have actually been several adaptations, including a 1997 TV movie. But when it comes to the latest Rebecca, a Netflix film directed by Ben Wheatley, there’s bound to be comparisons to Hitchcock. But to hear Wheatley tell it, we should just go ahead and put those comparisons right out of our heads, because he’s not making a remake.
“It’s not, in any sense, a remake of the Hitchcock film,” the director told Empire. “Firmly not. Remaking a film is not that interesting to me, but the original source material is. I watched all the adaptations. It’s important to see what’s gone before, but that’s certainly not the focus.” Wheatley also explained what drew him to the project, since it’s not exactly in line with previous films he made, such as Kill List and High-Rise: “I wanted to make something that had more love in it. It’s part of trying to investigate other parts of being human. Rebecca has dark elements, and it has a psychological, haunting story within it, but it’s also about these two people in love. That was the main thing.”
As well-regarded as the Hitchcock movie is (it’s the only Hitchcock movie to ever win a Best Picture Oscar), it’s also not exactly the most faithful adaptation of Daphne du Maurier. I won’t give away spoilers (yes, it’s an old movie and old book, but the Wheatley film isn’t out yet, so I’m being considerate), but let’s just say that production codes of the era forced Hitchcock to change some of the book’s darker elements.
In Rebecca, “After a whirlwind romance in Monte Carlo with handsome widower Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), a newly married young woman (Lily James) arrives at Manderley, her new husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast. Naive and inexperienced, she begins to settle into the trappings of her new life, but finds herself battling the shadow of Maxim’s first wife, the elegant and urbane Rebecca, whose haunting legacy is kept alive by Manderley’s sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas).”
Rebecca hits Netflix on October 21.
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