A good movie at the end of the day seems to have become a routine. The remake of Roald Dahl’s The Witches is coming to HBO in time for Halloween, and other scary movies I’ve watched lately include The Trial of the Chicago Seven and David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet on Netflix, but last night I watched Lily James and Armie Hammer in the Netflix remake of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, a classic scary movie.
James is a little too beautiful for the frumpy second wife Du Maurier wrote about, despite her clunky shoes and baggy sweaters, and Armie Hammer is too young and debonair for the cold, older, reticent aristocrat of the novel, but, oh, they are so good to watch together on the screen, The steamy scene on the beach reminiscent of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr’s famous scene in From Here to Eternity would never have happened in the novel, but I’m glad it was in the movie.
I wondered at the Netflix ending and spent an hour trying to find a free version of the novel on Gutenberg to compare. When I read Rebecca, I remembered the Gothic overtones and the feeling of ghostly despair haunting the ending; noone was living happily ever after. Netflix cures this authorial intent with another steamy bedroom scene, but offers a nod to the possibilities with Lily James crazy stare into the camera at the end. If you didn’t know the novel, you might think all was well and Rebecca’s ghost was still swimming in the deep. The movie was good, but, as always, the novel was better – give it a try – you can listen to it, complete with eerie music – here.
Although true to the novel in most scenes, the romantic ending might be better for viewers in this virus ridden world. After all, we already have a specter to fear and resist; who needs another one.