“Rebecca” is a 1940 psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier. The film tells the story of a young woman who marries a wealthy widower, only to find herself living in the shadow of his first wife, Rebecca, who died under mysterious circumstances.
The film begins with the unnamed narrator, a shy and inexperienced young woman, traveling to Monte Carlo with her employer, Mrs. Van Hopper. While there, she meets Maxim de Winter, a wealthy widower who is still haunted by the death of his first wife, Rebecca. The two quickly fall in love and get married, and the narrator becomes the new mistress of Maxim’s grand estate, Manderley.
However, the narrator soon finds herself struggling to fit in at Manderley, where she is constantly reminded of Rebecca’s presence. The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, is particularly hostile towards the new Mrs. de Winter, and seems to go out of her way to make her feel unwelcome. The narrator becomes obsessed with Rebecca and begins to investigate her death, hoping to uncover the truth behind the mystery.
As the story unfolds, the narrator discovers that Maxim’s marriage to Rebecca was not as perfect as it seemed, and that Rebecca had many secrets and affairs. The narrator also begins to suspect that Maxim may have had a hand in Rebecca’s death.
In the climactic scene, the narrator confronts Maxim, who reveals that he did, in fact, kill Rebecca. He explains that Rebecca was cruel and manipulative, and that she was planning to ruin his life. Maxim says that he shot her in a fit of rage and desperation, and that he has been haunted by her memory ever since.
In the end, the truth about Rebecca’s death is revealed, and the narrator and Maxim are able to move on with their lives. “Rebecca” is a masterful psychological thriller, with outstanding performances by Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier, and is considered one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest films.
Daphne Du Maurier, Robert E. Sherwood, Joan Harrison
Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders