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YMMV / Rebecca

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Maxim a villain, hero or anti-hero? Is everything Maxim says about Rebecca true? Do Maxim and the Second Mrs de Winter get a happy ending or not? It's possible that Rebecca was a normal and admirable woman, that Maxim was a tyrant who killed her for not being submissive, that the second wife swallowed his story because it proved he didn't love Rebecca after all, and that Mrs. Danvers was enraged because he got away with the murder of her friend and employer. Maybe Maxim killed his second wife as well after she wrote her memoirs. All open to interpretation. The fact that Rebecca was cheating on Maxim with Favell shows that she wasn't a faithful wife at least.
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    • A minor one regarding Mrs Danvers's trick on the heroine. Was tricking her into dressing up as Rebecca just a Kick the Dog moment as revenge for being stood up to? Was she hoping to remind Maxim of the love she thought he felt for Rebecca, further ruining the new marriage? Or was it some way for her to get to see Rebecca (or someone who resembled her) one last time?
    • Did Rebecca have an affair with Giles and ruin his marriage with Beatrice? Maxim says it, and the narrator notes the tension between the couple. Beatrice also does all she can to make her new sister-in-law welcome and comfortable, comforting her when a surprise costume goes wrong. Favell seems to think, however, that he was Rebecca's only lover.
    • The second Mrs de Winter staying with Maxim after finding out he's responsible for Rebecca's death. Does she truly love him in spite of it? Or is she realising her best chance for comfort is staying with him - since she's an orphan and has no other family to speak of?
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    • There's the possibility of Rebecca being a lesbian who only married Maxim because it was expected of her - especially given her closeness to Mrs Danvers.
      • For that matter, did Rebecca actually feel any sort of affection for Danny, or did she just need a confidante for practical reasons, including someone to stroke her ego?
    • Did Ben stick to his story of seeing nothing and hearing nothing to protect Mrs. De Winter, who was kind to him? Or was he just scared of the strange men demanding answers?
    • Did Mrs. Danvers burn Manderley down solely to get revenge on Maxim, or was it also revenge on Rebecca for not telling her about her illness?
    • Favell cornering the narrator in the beginning, visiting her without Maxim's knowing. A means to scope out the new wife, to find a way to cope with his grief, or was he hoping she would sleep with her?
  • Award Snub: The 1940 film version won the Best Picture Oscar, the only Alfred Hitchcock film to do so, but it only garnered one other win (George Barnes for cinematography) out of 11 total nominations.
    • Hitchcock's Best Director loss to John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath was perfectly understandable, since it was another cinematic giant directing a classic, but odds are Hitchcock probably didn't have much of a chance anyway. At that point, producers were largely viewed as the auteurs of film, and David O. Selznick had an outsized reputation for wielding creative control on his films. Hitchcock, as an outsider making his first Hollywood film, would've been seen as merely a hired hand for Selznick. In fact, while Selznick and Hitchcock clashed a lot in pre-production, Selznick mostly left Hitchcock alone on the set, since he was burned out from Gone with the Wind's Troubled Production, including coming to blows with the original director George Cukor and supervising Victor Fleming and production designer William Cameron Menzies as they took over directorial duties.
    • Similarly, in the Best Supporting Actress category, Judith Anderson's iconic performance as Mrs. Danvers had the bad luck to go up against another iconic performance, Jane Darwell as Ma Joad.
  • Cry for the Devil: Some adaptations portray Favell as this, rather than a never-to-do-well Jerkass trying to blackmail Maxim. He was quite happy to sleep with his cousin, no matter how it pained Maxim, and confronted the heroine simply for being the new Mrs. De Winter. However, he's gobsmacked when Mrs. Danvers confirms that Rebecca never loved him, because she wasn't in love with anyone, showing he did have feelings for her. The miniseries shows him Drowning My Sorrows after learning Rebecca wasn't carrying his child but instead had ovarian cancer, far too developed to treat. It meant she was dead anyway, and he tried to avenge her for nothing.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Plenty of people apply this treatment to Rebecca herself. While we never get confirmation what she was truly like, she was definitely having an affair with Favell. Note that the only glowing description comes from Mrs Danvers - who is hardly trustworthy.
    • Mrs Danvers herself gets this treatment. While there's definitely something sad about her grieving for a mistress she truly loved, she still bullies the heroine, sets her up to be humiliated and tries to get her to kill herself. She also burns the house down. In the book she's much older and is said to have watched over Rebecca since she was a child...which adds some creepier dimensions to her character.
  • Ending Fatigue: After The Reveal that Maxim killed Rebecca and that he never loved her, the major source of conflict for the heroine is resolved...but the story keeps on going into a Reverse Whodunnit. In the 1940 film it's a good half hour more of screen time, and has the effect of turning the heroine into a more passive character.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • Fanon:
    • The heroine's real name being Daphne. It was this in early drafts, and the film considered giving it to her. However there's no confirmation, except that her narration says it's uncommon and people often misspell it.
    • The painting in the hall being of Rebecca. It actually is a painting of Maxim's ancestor, Lady Caroline, as Mrs Danvers says. The plot point is that Rebecca dressed up as her once at a costume ball.
  • Fans Prefer the New Her: Yes, the costume for the ball ends up horrifying Maxim, and his poor wife is nearly Driven to Suicide over it. But that doesn't stop Joan Fontaine from looking fantastic in the dress.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Maxim is revealed to have been in an emotionally abusive relationship with Rebecca. His actor in the 1940 film Laurence Olivier would experience a strained marriage with Vivien Leigh - where her mental health problems led to her having an affair similar to the one Rebecca had with Favell. Although by his own account, their divorce was more amicable.
    • Armie Hammer plays Maxim in the 2020 film, and only months after it came out, he was facing severe accusations of abuse, sexual misconduct and even cannibalistic fetishism that resulted in his agency dropping him.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Favell tried to break up Maxim and Rebecca's marriage. Fast forward to All About Eve where George Sanders (who plays Favell) expresses disgust that Eve plans to break up Karen and Lloyd's marriage. What makes this even funnier is that Anne Baxter (who would play Eve) screen tested for this film.
    • Due to a casting overlap with Elisabeth and being written by the same people, this trope comes up a lot if you cross-reference the shows.
      • Both shows have a Character Title. The logo for Rebecca features her monogram, while Elisabeth's logo is Sisi's signature. The titular characters are in unhappy marriages that looked like a fairytale to outsiders, is revealed to be ill during the course of the show (cancer for Rebecca, syphilis for Elisabeth) and doesn't reciprocate their husbands' love note .
      • Mrs. Danvers has been played by at least three former Sisis - Pia Douwes, Maya Hakvoort, and Ock Joo-hyun - an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette dressed all in black, haunted by a specter of death (and is a Death Seeker because of tragedy).
      • During "Mrs. De Winter bin ich!" Danvers comments that the power of Death cannot defeat Rebecca, over the sound of Ich singing that she wants to live for herself - Sisi's character arc revolves around her independence and refusal to bow down to anyone, not even Death.
      • In both shows, Uwe Kröger plays a character that takes the titular character's life: Death, and Maxim de Winter.
      • Although in different productions, Wietske van Tongeren (Ich) and Susan Rigvava-Dumas (Danvers) played Empress Elisabeth and Archduchess Sophie. The latter is contemptuous of the former, thinks of her as a child, and is antagonistic towards her for the entirety of Sophie's stage presence. Sophie and Danvers both attempt to break apart the marriage of Sisi/Franz Joseph and Ich/Maxim.
      • Shadows are associated with the antagonists: Rebecca and Death - one is a ghost, the other a Grim Reaper.
      • Sisi and Ich both wear white nightgowns ("Ich gehör nur mir"/"Hilf mir durch die Nacht") and have reveals involving gorgeous white dresses ("Ich will dir nur sagen"/"Der Ball von Manderley"). In some productions, Sisi also descends a staircase in said dress, like Ich.
    • In the 2019 Japanese dub, Yuko Miyamura's role as Mrs. Danvers is this, if you take into account her role as Asuka, and the final fate of both characters, especially in The End of Evangelion movie: In this film, Mrs. Danvers is a woman who is still obsessed with her late master, the titular Rebecca, and she tries to convice Ms. de Winter to commite suicide, only to end Mrs. Danvers dying when she set ablaze their home. In Evangelion, Asuka is a girl whose mother, Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu, killed herself while presencing the act as a kid, and half of Kyoko's soul lives inside one of the titular machines, whose daughter pilots and most of the drama involving her goes with the fact Kyoko's death and Kyoko's herself still haunts Asuka in some way and another, just to, in The End of Evangelion, Kyoko's soul, who is inside Asuka's EVA-02, helps her daughter one last time, just so Asuka ends up dying in the final battle against the mass-production EVAs.
    • Act 2 of the musical starts with Ich outside Maxim's door, asking him to let her in. That sounds familiar.
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • Subverted in the film version. Mrs. Danvers, Mrs. Van Hopper, and Favell all call the heroine plain and act as if she's deformed. She's played by Hollywood beauty Joan Fontaine. But this is used to show that the characters are nasty and it's made clear that Maxim finds his new wife beautiful. Likewise, the majority of plain comments come from Mrs Danvers - and she's comparing her to Rebecca, with whom she was deeply in love. Beatrice even seems to find her pretty. Overall it seems to be that she has a natural beauty but she's not glamorous enough to meet the high standards of the upper class.
    • Played very straight in the 2020 film, where Lily James plays the heroine. The filmmakers apparently forgot that she's meant to be a Shrinking Violet, as she's dressed in 1940s high fashion even before her marriage to Maxim, is given striking blonde hair that would make her very desirable at that time and always looks glamorous. This contrasts heavily to the earthier look that Joan Fontaine sported - where she could believably be seen as out of place among Maxim's circle.
  • It Was His Sled: The twist that Maxim actually hated Rebecca is far more well known these days. With the Alpha Bitch trope becoming commonplace, modern viewers can pick up on the way other characters describe her.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Whatever her ultimate relationship with Rebecca was, Mrs. Danvers is still clearly heartbroken over the loss of Rebecca, and her callousness seems somewhat understandable in that context. She even attracts some more pity at the end once it becomes obvious that Rebecca ultimately victimized her as much as anyone else.
  • Les Yay:
    • Implied (much more heavily in the book) to be a major component of Mrs. Danvers' devotion to Rebecca.
    • Depending on the staging, Mrs. Danvers tends to have a rather sensual manner towards Mrs. de Winter during the song "Rebecca" and its reprise, with far more touching than necessary or appropriate. In the latter's case, it even becomes suggestive of sexual assault in certain versions, as Mrs. de Winter is only half dressed in her nightgown, and certain versions, the Hungarian for example, have Mrs. Danvers back her onto Rebecca's bed.
    • In the film, Mrs. Danvers also encourages the new de Winter to feel the old de Winter's underwear, obviously testing her reaction to see if she, too, is attracted to it.
  • Narm: For some, there's the inherent Mood Whiplash in the reveal that Maxim killed Rebecca. The heroine is more delighted to discover that he hated the woman, because it means he loves her. It's a little better in the film, where Rebecca's death was accidental.
  • One-Scene Wonder: In the 1940 film, Alfred Hitchcock fave Leo G. Carroll as Dr. Baker, the 11th-Hour Ranger who discloses a crucial piece of information about Rebecca that blows the plot wide open.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Maxim tends to get a raw deal from a lot of people who imagine him as a maniacal serial killer. He did kill Rebecca, but some people like to ignore the confirmation from other characters that she was by all accounts a rotten human being - and portray her as an innocent victim. In the film at least, Maxim didn't kill her and he does love his new wife.
  • Signature Line: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
  • Signature Scene: Just about any scene between the narrator and Mrs. Danvers could count, but the one by the open window takes the cake.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: In the 1940 version, after the opening monologue about Manderley, we spend the first 30 minutes of the film in Monte Carlo before the de Winters finally get to the mansion. In contrast, in the novel the Monte Carlo sequence only takes up 5 out of 27 chapters, and the narrator still talks about Manderley in them.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped; Abuse is abuse, and can cause the victim to lash out in monstrous ways. Maxim is bad-tempered, dry, and a bit blunt, but wins over the narrator because she's polite to him and modest, not at all like Rebecca and she can see his kind spirit. He also scares her the night of the costume party and doesn't even seem to remember afterward. It's revealed that Maxim has a bad Hair-Trigger Temper because he's carrying the guilt that he murdered Rebecca in a fit of righteous fury when she threatened to have Favell's baby. He expects the narrator to leave him, but instead she resolves to stay by his side, no matter what happens. Only then does Maxim mellow, able to live with the guilt.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The Reveal, all of it. Maxim tells the narrator that he killed Rebecca in a fit of passionate anger, and explains that she spent her marriage cheating on him and emotionally abusing him. She broke their one established rule, that she was to keep their affairs discreet, and then goaded him about being pregnant with another man's child. After that, Maxim apologizes to the narrator for killing her innocence.
    • In the miniseries at least, Favell is gobsmacked to learn that no, Rebecca never loved him and she wasn't pregnant with his child. She had ovarian cancer, in its terminal stages. Favell realizes that he can't avenge Rebecca because she was dying anyway. It's small wonder that he starts Drowning My Sorrows before calling Mrs. Danvers.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The film seems to be trying to avoid this by changing things so that Maxim wasn't responsible for Rebecca's death. In the book, she goads him into shooting her; in the film, she falls. The later miniseries also avoids this by having him go into Manderley to rescue Mrs. Danvers from the flames; he fails and ends up with a limp, showing he has some standards.
  • The Woobie:
    • Maxim if you think about it. He spent forever trapped in an unhappy marriage to a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who had no problem having open affairs in front of him - all the while the rest of his high society friends thought of her as a perfect angel. Even after her death, his house is a shrine to her, partly thanks to Mrs. Danvers. Of course since he was the one who killed her, it muddies things a little. But he does genuinely love his new wife, and it looks as if Rebecca will continue to hover over them from beyond the grave, especially after his house is burned down by Mrs Danvers, all in the name of Rebecca. At the very least, they are able to live a content, mundane life in Switzerland, with no want for any luxuries.
    • The second Mrs de Winter is looked down on by nearly all of Maxim's high society friends and employees - Beatrice being the lone exception - and she's frequently treated as if she's a street urchin. She spends the whole story feeling that she's a Replacement Goldfish for Rebecca. Not to mention the horrible moment where Mrs Danvers cruelly tricks her into dressing in a costume Rebecca had worn - where she's embarrassed in front of her in-laws and is nearly Driven to Suicide over it all.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: In The Musical, Manderley looks terrifyingly realistic in flames. In close proximity to wood and electrical wires, in a room full of people.


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