How does the Rebecca remake compare to the original?

Rebecca: (L to R) Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter, Lily James as Mrs. de Winter. Cr. KERRY BROWN/NETFLIX
Rebecca: (L to R) Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter, Lily James as Mrs. de Winter. Cr. KERRY BROWN/NETFLIX /

Is Netflix’s Rebecca as good as the original?

Daphne du Maurier’s Gothic romantic suspense, Rebecca, was released in 1938. Since then it has been adapted for everything from radio, movies, theater and television to even an opera! To say it’s a beloved classic is an understatement. But there’s one movie that set the bar for all of the others and still does to this day: the original movie, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 Oscar-winning adaptation of the book.

How does the Netflix Rebecca remake compare to that? Is it any good?

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca starred Laurence Olivier as Maxim “Max” de Winter, Joan Fontaine as his new wife, Mrs. de Winter, and Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Olivier, Best Actress for Fontaine, Best Supporting Actress for Anderson, Best Director for Hitchcock, Best Special Effects and Best Picture. It won two Oscars for Best Picture and Best Cinematography, Black and White.

Ben Wheatley directed the Netflix movie remake of Rebecca. Armie Hammer stars as Maxim de Winter, Lily James is Mrs. de Winter and Kristin Scott Thomas takes on the role of the antagonist, Mrs. Danvers.

I’m not gonna lie. I was both excited and apprehensive when I learned a Rebecca remake was coming to Netflix. My initial reaction was, “Can’t we just let some classics set the benchmark and not challenge them?”

The trouble was it was already challenged. A remake was coming no matter what I, or any other fans, thought. But what did that mean? Would it be based on Daphne du Maurier’s book? If so, would they follow the storyline closely or make changes? Like, would they give the character who becomes the new Mrs. de Winter a name, or would she remain nameless?

And what about the setting, both the time period and the place? Would they keep that the same or modernize it and bring it to the present day?

Then there was the casting. Whoever took on the leading roles, Mr. de Winter, Mrs. de Winter and Mrs Danvers, had big shoes to fill.

Luckily, what Wheatley chose to modernize, like cinematography techniques, only serves to enhance this adaptation. Same with the sets and the costumes. Not that they were present-day, it stayed set in the 1930s, but they were lavish.

He tried to embellish a couple of scenes, like the famous ball. And he took artistic license with a scene where the new Mrs. de Winter finds Maxim sleepwalking to Rebecca’s room and Mrs. Danvers stops her from waking him.

However, he presented a bit kinder, more sympathetic Mrs. Danvers. I wasn’t sure about Kristin Scott Thomas taking on that role. She’s an outstanding actress, but I don’t see her as a Mrs. Danvers type. However, she absolutely makes the role her own and presents a much more developed version of the character. In short, she rocked it.

But what about the two main characters, Mr. and Mrs. de Winter? Did Wheatley do their storyline justice and were they cast appropriately?

In an interview with Empire, Wheatley had said:

"“I wanted to make something that had more love in it.”"

Mission accomplished.

The love story between Maxim and Mrs. de Winter is more modern in the sense that it shows steamier on-screen scenes, yet it still retains the innocence of the original. And who couldn’t love watching Armie Hammer and Lily James? They’re definitely not Olivier or Fontaine, but again, like Kristin Scott Thomas does with Mrs. Danvers, they also make their characters their own. The result is fresh and yet familiar.

The ending is also a bit different than the Hitchcock version, but more in line with the book’s. Basically. Mrs. Danver’s demise is a bit more melodramatic and poetic. Not saying it’s better, but it’s certainly a unique spin on the matter.

I don’t think you’ll see this Rebecca remake nabbing any Oscar nominations as the original did, but it’s enjoyable, especially if you’re in the mood for a period romance mixed with a bit of suspense.

Next. 6 Netflix movies to watch if you like Rebecca. dark