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You May Think You Know ‘Rebecca,’ But Netflix’s Adaptation Proves You Don’t

Dream of going to Manderley again? Netflix’s lavish new period drama Rebecca revives the famous manor house and all its secrets.

Like Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film, this Rebecca tells the story of a middle-class woman (Lily James) who falls for and weds wealthy widower Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer). The romance chills when he brings his new bride home, where the new Mrs. de Winter is menaced by stern housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas) and the memory of Maxim’s seemingly perfect late wife, Rebecca. 

What unfolds is a mystery wrapped in a thriller wrapped in a romance, says director Ben Wheatley: “Everybody sort of thinks they know [the story], but they don’t.”

Wheatley was eager to include pivotal elements of du Maurier’s novel that Hitchcock’s film played down (for one, Maxim may be hiding more than he’s letting on). However, he also wanted to humanize the sinister Mrs. Danvers — an interpretation that may surprise those familiar with the character. “What I felt from reading the book is that Danvers really is the moral voice of the story,” he teases. 

(Credit: KERRY BROWN/NETFLIX)

One change he never considered: showing the title character. “The Rebecca in your head,” he says, “is so much more interesting than the one we could put onscreen.”

Rebecca, Movie Premiere, Wednesday, October 21, Netflix

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