A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while Rebecca is suspenseful, it's also long and moody, which might turn off antsy preteens. Teens, especially movie buffs, are more likely to get into this one: Some won't appreciate the period look and feel, but most will enjoy the twists and turns of the compelling story. This movie has mature themes including death, murder, adultery, and incest.
What's the story?
Based on the gothic novel by Daphne du Maurier, REBECCA tells the story of a young woman (Joan Fontaine) who falls in love with dashing, rich widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) while in Monte Carlo. The two marry and return to de Winter's country estate, Manderley. But the servants are cool to the new Mrs. de Winter, and housekeeper Mrs. Danvers is downright rude to the new lady of the house. The new Mrs. de Winter learns of Rebecca, Maxim's first wife, and begins to realize that there's something very mysterious about what's going on at Manderley. Her anxieties over her marriage to Maxim and the questions surrounding Rebecca get the best of her, and she teeters toward insanity.
Is it any good?
Alfred Hitchcock's first Hollywood movie features inventive camera work, superb acting, and a story full of twists and turns. Winner of two Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Cinematography, Rebecca has been remade several times for television, but this 1940 version is still the classic. One 13-year-old girl was quickly caught up in the suspenseful atmosphere Hitchcock sustains throughout, but laughed at some of the movie's period attributes, like the fake backdrop in the driving scenes.
There's a certain paternalism evident in the relationship between Mr. de Winter and Louise. The 13-year-old girl cottoned to the idea that these two came from different class backgrounds, and she commented about how hard it is for people of different backgrounds to marry. Complex stories like Rebecca open up surprising opportunities for dialogue with children. In the end, the truly memorable character in this movie is the hateful Mrs. Danvers, played by Oscar-nominated Dame Judith Anderson, who does everything in her power to destroy the new Mrs. de Winter. Her perfectly poised nastiness hovers over the story and gives the movie its real edge.
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