Ok so Rebecca has a lot of things to live up to. Not only is it based on a classic novel, the film adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock also won best picture in 1940.
It’s got some big high heels to fill and throughout this video we’re gonna be breaking down the movie’s story, it’s crazy ending and the differences to the source material.
With that out the way welcome to the Heavy Spoilers show, I’m your host Paul aka the guy that’s always at your Rebeccand Call, now let’s get into the breakdown.
Rebecca Story Breakdown
Ok so Rebecca primarily follows Lily James character who is only ever known as Mrs. De Winter. Whilst leaving a character’s name out of a script is pretty lazy it’s actually been done for the specific reason and that is to paint out the purpose of the character. Mrs. De Winter is pretty much viewed as a stand in for Mr De Winter’s deceased wife Rebecca and we see as she tries her best to come to terms with this whilst also discovering what really happened to her.
Mr Maxim De Winter played by Armie Hammer is apparently grieving due to his wife’s drowning the year before and there is a large hole in his life that not only looms over him but also his estate, known simply as Manderly.
Throughout the introduction of the movie we watch as Mr and Mrs are introduced to one another and they fall in love. Due to the class system in England Mrs is pretty much viewed as an object, a staff member rather than a person and thus when Maxim plucks her out of this, she’s naturally swept off her feet.
The first act of this movie could be mistaken for a classic romance story and we watch as the pair get to know each other, fall in love and get married faster than you can say Viva Las Vegas. However, the dynamic quickly changes when Mrs arrives at Manderly and finds that Rebecca’s ghost very much still resides in the house.
Now though there’s nothing Supernatural about the events, the film does a good job of making you feel like there’s a presence in the manor. Though this never truly manifests, even with it’s faults I did find that the movie acheived it’s goal of making us feel like something else was afoot here.
AFOOT HERE, man I’ve been watching period pieces too much recently.
At Manderly resides, Mrs. Danvers played by Kristin Scott Thomas. Danvers is the head of the household and we learn that she cared for Rebecca throughout pretty much her entire life. Because of this she remains incredibly loyal to her and even in death very much feels like she must still serve her.
This devotion makes her gain an instant dislike to Mrs, who she views as being a shallow replacement.
Mrs. Danvers pretty much becomes a vessel for Rebecca’s vengeful spirit and by proxy she torments Mrs similar to how Rebecca tormented Maxim.
Danvers does whatever she can to destroy Mr and Mrs relationship but Mrs fights on through it all. Now this mirrors an earlier encounter with Mrs boss in which she mocks their relationship and says that they aren’t a good fit because of their social status. NO ONE PUTS MY HAT ON ME!!!! NO ONE!!!
Mrs powers through this and believes that she can get through anything that their relationship tosses at them even though the truth about Rebecca is clearly causing issues.
The Truth About Rebecca
Now throughout the film we learn that Rebecca didn’t die by accident and that Maxim actually killed her. Rebecca and Maxim pretty much hated one another and their relationship was pretty much a game of top trumps in which they tried to outdo each other in every way possible.
Rebecca was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus and with only months left to live she decided to enact a plan that would rob Maxim of feeling guilt-free over her passing. Rebecca was known for her beauty and she didn’t want to have a frail dying woman being the last thing that people remembered her as. Thus she pretended to be pregnant and provoked Maxim into killing her in the hopes that he would go to prison.
Because the death looked like an accidental drowning Maxim was exonerated of her death but Rebecca still very much haunts him.
Now though most stories that follow this aesthetic would very much end with Mrs getting chased through the mansion by Mr with an Axe, Rebecca is a lot more understanding of Maxim’s predicament.
The movie pretty much paints him out as someone who was mentally abused by his wife and the constant torment that he faced very much made his life a living hell. Rebecca cheated on him often and threatened him with humiliation at several points. Because of said class system and the legacy of Manderly, Maxim very much felt that if their relationship troubles were made public that this would bring shame to his family’s name and thus he kept it secret.
Maxim was very much forced to kill her in order to stop her not only taking away his pride but also his home, name and the legacy that his family had built. Maxim believed that Rebecca was pregnant with an illegitimate heir between Rebecca and her cousin Jack that, because he wouldn’t go public about, would mean that the home would be passed over to someone else that wasn’t a true De Winter.
Now whilst this was untrue, it was enough to make Maxim kill her which was her ultimate endgame.
Maxim faked the drowning and sunk the boat she was in, pushing it out to sea in order to cover up the crime. A woman’s body later washed up on the shore and Maxim identified her as Rebecca even though it was just a jane doe.
However the boat is soon discovered along with Rebecca’s corpse and due to punctures in the hull, it makes it clear that her death was no accident. After a letter is discovered summoning Jack, all things point towards Maxim.
Maxim is arrested and becomes the prime suspect in her death and the movie takes a sharp turn for the finale. Now luckily for Maxim, Rebecca’s tumour is discovered and due to her being clearly short on time, suicide is instead listed as the cause of her death which exonerates Maxim.
Now Danvers doesn’t want to allow Maxim to win in the end and because of her devotion to Maxim she burns down Manderly in order to destroy his legacy before she throws herself into the sea.
Honestly it feels like a completely left-field ending and one that’s a bit messy until you look at the true meaning behind it. Now as mentioned earlier, Danvers is pretty much the personifcation of Rebecca and metaphorically this is very much her destroying the manor in the end. Rebecca wanted nothing more than to tear Maxim’s life apart and thus Danvers carrying this out symbolically shows that she achieved her goal in doing this.
Rebecca Ending Explained
However it shouldn’t really be classed as a victory and Danvers tossing herself into the see can also be seen as the last shred of Rebecca’s presence dying along with her. This is why we cut almost immediately to both Mr and Mrs finally sharing some real happiness together in a new home.
Not only are they free of the manor, which Rebecca was so tightly bound to but they are also free of Rebecca herself. Danvers tells Mrs De Winter that she will know happiness and personally I think it is the parting words of the bitter Rebecca who wanted nothing more than to ruin Maxim’s life but failed in doing so.
Mrs defiantly says that she will and it’s very much a victory for her.
Throughout Danvers constantly tried to compare Mrs to Rebecca and often commented on how she wasn’t as beautiful as she was. She even made her dress up as her in order to humiliate her and tried to show that she simply couldn’t live up to her. However that is where Mrs. succeeded and because she was such an opposite to Rebecca she was actually a better fit for Maxim. Maxim wanted nothing more than a woman who wasn’t cruel to him, genuinely loved him and wouldn’t try to emotionally abuse him.
This is why Mrs is so perfect for him and why she shouldn’t have been so upset about being compared to Rebecca.
Mr and Mrs have escaped from everything that Rebecca held over them and they can now move in a new direction without her ghost hanging over them.
Rebecca 2020 Differences
Now this is a sort of happy ending if my interpretation is correct and it’s actually why the original film’s finale differed so much.
Due to laws at the time known as the Hays code, filmmakers were unable to portray a woman’s death in a positive light. It was also classed as highly immoral to show people getting away with murder and thus Maxim could not be seen to be getting away unpunished.
In the original, Rebecca’s death is accidental and she dies from hitting her head during a fall. Maxim, worried that he will be blamed for her death, covers this up by placing her in a boat and sinking it.
There are other differences such as Favell being called for by Maxim in order to look over the note which does add some weight towards his innocence. Danvers also isn’t fired by Mrs and instead she remains in the house. The finale of the original ends with Mrs driving towards Manderly as the blaze starts to set in.
Mrs. Danvers goes to Rebecca’s room as the mansion burns around her and she dies in the foundations, symbolically taking Rebecca along with her.
Both endings are very much seen as an exorcism and should be seen as a send-off to Rebecca rather than the way they are initially portrayed with her and Danvers winning.
Rebecca 2020 Review
But what were my thoughts on the film. Well, though it’s getting slammed pretty badly by the critics I don’t quite think it’s a complete train crash. Much like Mrs and Rebecca herself, the movie is being compared to the original and it’s something that’s very difficult to live up to.
Now if you go in with either the novel or the 1940 film looming over your head, much like Danvers you’re not gonna see this as matching up. The chemistry isn’t really there between the De Winters and at times it plods along, not really advancing the plot.
However, when viewed on it’s own I don’t think it’s THAT bad and for a mid-week movie on Netflix it’s fine.
It’s fine isn’t it.
I think a lot of people will probably enjoy this to a certain extent and though it’s not a new classic, if this is your first time experiencing the story you’ll probably find some stuff to like here.
Rebecca gets a 6/10 and we will have away with that.
Now obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on the movie so make sure you comment below and let me know.