Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #9: Last Night I Dreamt (Opening Scene of Rebecca)

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The posts today are all so good, I feel I don't have a lot to add.  But I would like to agree strongly with ESei's observation that this is narrated from a woman's point of view.  Am I wrong in thinking that this was the first and only time Hitch did this?  It is very important to the story, because we are drawn by the tenuous, wistful narrative to try to understand her experience and the sense of foreboding.  The twist and turns of the drive through the woods (or life) is very psychological, and to me more Impressionist, than Expressionist.   The house is shown in a shift of light from its glory days to its decline.  We are left in a fade to black, immediately shocked by the violent wave action.  The stage is set! 

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1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period?

 

The opening of Rebecca is different with the use of the voiceover narration and dream sequence. This establishes the house, Manderley, as a kind of character. Since it's burned out, we also get the clue that something dramatic happened there. Then the music becomes dramatic with a shot of the sea, and a man standing dangerously close to to the edge of a cliff. This implies that the man is somehow tied to Manderley, even though a woman is the narrator. When Joan Fontaine yells at Laurence Olivier we know it's her voice we just heard. I don't think any of Hitchcock's previous movies used a narration opening, nor do the eventual lovers meet in the opening scene that I can recall.

 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock?

 

His use of dark and light, a character in danger, or mental distress, an innocent character who it is implied plays a large role in the story. We also have the remains of a large country house contrasted with scenes in nature. An abrupt and not very romantic first meeting between the eventual lovers. 

 

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? 

 

The narration about Manderley and how the person speaking says they can never go back there again, yet she still dreams about it, indicates something extremely significant happened to her there. The overgrown drive, and the shell of the house reinforce this feeling. The narrator calls the house "secretive and silent". As the moon comes out from behind clouds, it's almost as if the house comes back to life. The next instant the clouds cover the house "like a dark hand in front of a face." The narrator is anthropomorphizing the house. 

 

I think the effect of this opening flashback structure gives us lots of clues about the dark nature of the story we're about to see. The house has been burned and is an empty shell. The scene switches to a man, who looks like he might jump off the cliff into the sea. He's saved by the voice of the narration. And now we know how the narrator was introduced to the implied owner of Manderley.

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1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period? 

All of the opening scenes we have seen so far have been public places and have given you a lot of info on multiple characters. For most of the opening of Rebecca, we don't even know who is describing the scene. Also, the previous openings through both visual information and dialog allow the audience to decide how they feel about the characters. In Rebecca, the voiceover narration forces us to experience it as it is described. The main character in the opening of Rebecca is not a person at all but a house. 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? 

The Hitchcock touch is mostly the long subjective shots as we approach Manderley. In particular, the shot where the camera moves through the gate. An easier way to shoot it would be to dissolve from one side of the gate to the other. I assume that they built the gate in two pieces on casters, so that it could be pulled out of the way to let the camera through without cutting. Also, there's a shot where the camera passes through fog before you get to Manderlay. Realistically, moving at walking speed from the gate to a house like Manderley would take several minutes, which I'm sure Hitchcock didn't want to be too long for fear of the audience getting bored. The fog gives the impression of more time/distance passing. Another Hitchcock touch is Olivier on the cliff. In particular, the sequence where we see him from the back with the waves crashing on the rocks in front  of him and then cut to a closeup of his lower legs as he inches toward the precipice. Obviously, he is contemplating suicide.

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? 

 

It definitely sets up Manderley as a more of character than just a place. Also there is a sense of foreboding in the way it is shown and the words that are spoken. The house has been abandoned and the grounds have started to take over it. The narration imagines that lights come on as if the house is alive. It continues to say that the house is a shell of it's former self, foreshadowing that Rebecca is going to be about how Manderley got this way.

 

I just remembered, he used the open gate, door technique in Spellbound, too, to show the inner mind

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1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period?

 

First, many if not all of the Hitchcock films started with crowds of people (The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, MWKTM, 39 Steps...), whereas Rebeca starts with no one - only a voice over.

 

Second, all the other films started at the beginning of a story, whereas Rebecca starts at the end, looking back as the story is told in flashback. This quality of reminiscence already starts to establish an tone, for reminiscence often is associated with loss, as you remember what once was and is no longer.

 

Third, the other Hitch films started of establishing characters (MWKTM, 39 Steps, Pleasure Garden) or a Plot (The Lodger). Rebecca starts by establishing mood or atmosphere - the moonlight and shadows, evoking a dreamlike atmosphere, the winding POV through the woods, the dark shell of Mandarley in shadow. No plot is set up, only mood and atmosphere. This coupled with the narraton, a reminiscence, which above i commented suggested loss, establishes a definite somber, dark mood.

 

Similar to Citizen Kane, which is also told in flashback, we start on a gate which ostensibly prevents us from going further, but in both cases we go through to investigate what is behind it, to find out what secrets there may be. Like Citizen Kane it has the same dark, somber atmosphere. Mysterious.

 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock?

 

Most noticeable is the POV shot. Used by Hitch to convey a subjective viewpoint, the shot gets us into the mind of the 2nd Mrs. DeWinters, who narrates the opening. As she remembers, we see what she sees. This helps us identify with what will be the main character of the story right away.

 

And in that sense is another Hitch touch: subjective viewpoint. Hitch most often lets us experience what is in the characters' minds. Usually he does this with alternating shots of the Viewer and their POV (Downhill, Psycho), and sometimes with superimposition (The Ring, 39 Steps)

 

The use of miniatures (and later on matte shots) was something Hitch was known for. The Lady Vanishes opens with one. Though sometimes for budgetary reasons, other times it is solely artistic (the shot of Roger Thornhill fleeing the UN building after the stabbing is a matte shot, where the virtual camera is high in the air looking down on a tiny figure).

 

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene?

 

Mandarley is described as a 'shell' - meaning dead. Something dead was once alive. Mandarley is a character in the film. It is associated so closely with Rebecca, that the two are inextricably linked. The 2nd Mrs. DeWinters can't go anywhere with out seeing or being in a place that represents Rebecca: her stationary is in the drawers, her linen has monograms, this was her favorite room, this is her bedroom still kept as if she were alive. One could argue that Rebecca and Mandarley are one.

 

I described how the atmosphere was established by the flashback - a sense of loss. A dark somber atmosphere. The shots of Mandarley help reinforce this. It is dark, shadowy, and yet as the light and shadows move it suggests a kind of life within the house.

 

Final thought concerning the lecture video: (Spoilers)

 

I disagree that Olivier is a 'stumbling block' in this movie. First, the film has nothing to do with GWTW, save the producer, and comparisons between the two films should concern nothing about character, storytelling and so on, but only technical concerns such as production.

 

Secondly, Ghering said he didn't know where Olivier's character was coming from - the treatment of the 2nd Mrs, DeWinter as a child, and so on. Max's attraction to and treatment of the 2nd Mrs. DeWinters was do to the relationship with his first wife, Rebecca. We find out in the end that she was a domineering, cruel, heartless woman whom Max despised. Fontaine's character was simple, shy pure, and innocent - the exact opposite, which was why he was so attracted to her. He would treat her as a child for two reasons: First, to maintain control (something he lost with Rebecca), and two, to keep her as she is - to prevent her from perhaps growing into someone who could turn on him again.

 

True, you don't find out Rebecca's true nature til the end, but that makes Max's character and action in retrospect make complete sense.

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Posted (edited)

1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period?

 

The opening of this film feels linguistic taken from the Daphne Du Maurier novel of the same name. It's haunting, evocative, and foreboding to the viewer watching the winding road, fog, moonlight, and the castle in it's gothic structure. 

 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock?

 

The camera gliding among the winding road, the use of miniatures, the pan and gliding of the camera as subjective from the POV of the main character, and the use of narration to give us an idea of the background of the story.

 

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of the scene?

 

Well, I read the book by Du Maurier, and the house was a character that has its own backstory and provides some of the secret details that might be important later on in the story. It gave the main character the second Mrs. De Winter, a chilling fear, when she was going to the house of Manderley, with her husband Max. It also provides some of the gothic and atmospheric sequences that would come later in the story as it did in the novel.  

Edited by BLACHEFAN
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1. Many of Hitchcock's prior films opened in public places with crowds gathered while Rebecca opens with a narrative to a secluded place and just one person.

 

2.  I feel that the Hithcock touch is all over this scene starting with the clouds around the moon, moving the camera up the driveway,all the way to the view of the waves over the rocks over the cliff.

 

3. The house I Think plays a really important part as a character actor if you will that says something sinister happened here and someone needs to investigate it.

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1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period?

The opening to the film Rebecca is much more placid than the openings to The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, TMWKTM, The 39 Steps, and The Lady Vanishes.  With all of the previous films, Hitchcock emphasizes crowds gathering for different reasons, whether it is to watch showgirls, witness the aftermath of a murder, watch a ski jump and avoid a close catastrophe, watch and heckle Mr. Memory, or frantically try to book rooms and/or passage on a train, respectively.  Some of these scenes are more light-hearted than others.  However, they all possess Hitchcock's trademark dark humor, even the more suspenseful films such as The Lodger. In Rebecca, Hitchcock uses a much slower pace with the tracking shot that gradually brings the audience into view of Manderley.  Despite this slower tracking shot with the voice over, HItchcock is still able to convey a sense of dread or doom, using the setting itself of the ruined remains of the estate.  Also, unlike the numerous people present in the opening scenes of the earlier films, we see only two characters and not until about 2:30 into the clip, emphasizing the idea that these two will be key players in this film.

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? 

For me, one of the Hitchcock "touches" is his use of lighting, his contrasts of light and shadows that were so effective in his black and white films, and which help to establish an overall sense of dread.  As the camera slowly tracks towards the estate, the predominant images are the mist, the fallen trees, the overgrown path, and finally the ruined building itself, all of these Gothic elements cast in shadow.  Additionally, the narrator is recounting a dream sequence, and often there is something more sinister about our dreams than our reality, adding to the overall dread.  This scene would not have worked in color or with the narrator on screen sharing her dream with minimal images of the estate.  Also, the tracking shot itself is another Hitchcock trademark, I think, giving us the narrator's point of view. We are in the dream.  We are the ones returning to Manderley.  We are the ones experiencing everything she is feeling, both the positive and the negative.  This is similar to the subjective point of view Hitchcock uses in the film Downhill as well with the boys walking towards the schoolmaster and in The Ring as we see the fighter struggle with his jealousy and suspicions about his wife.

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? 

Quite often inanimate objects and/or characters that never appear on screen or in a text can still have a very powerful effect on the other characters and the audience itself.  That is a given.  Some examples I can think of are the posters of Big Brother in the novel 1984, the houses in the Bradbury short stories "The Veldt" and "There Will Come Soft Rains," and even the Collins Manor as seen in the opening to the 1960's soap opera Dark Shadows, which interestingly began each episode also with a voice over to compliment the image and establish a sense of dread.  Respectively, all of these pieces work well to create disequilibrium in the characters as well as the readers/viewers, which is key for a suspenseful work to be successful.  Hitchcock makes Manderley seem to be a living entity in this opening clip by having the narrator say that the moon temporarily relights the rooms in the estate.  Manderley seems to be an overpowering force that has some sort of pull on or control over the narrator, as she is continually drawn towards the darkened window until the scene shifts to her memories of the south of France.  Furthermore, we know she is continually being pulled to Manderley because she says in the voice over that she was once again outside the gates.  The viewers sense this uncontrollable (and uncomfortable?)  pull that Manderley has on the narrator because of the use of light, shadows, and even nature: a cloudy night that casts much of the scene in darkness.  These elements were staples of Gothic literature at the time: dank, dark isolated estates cast in rain, shadows, and fog, all in remote settings.  Of course, later, Hitchcock would create a similar sense of dread with a house in the film Psycho, with Janet Leigh arriving at the Bates Motel on a rainy night and glancing up at the now infamous house "shared" by Norman and his mother, an image that towers over Marion and the hotel itself and that now towers over anyone who has ever heard of Hitchcock or who has seen Psycho or any of the many homages to the trademark house over the years since Hitchcock first shot the film.  And what made the house in Psycho more frightening perhaps is that it was not a remote location.  The evil now became more immediate, less suspected, and more threatening as it assumed the form of the seemingly innocent boy next door in the form of Norman Bates.

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Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period? In many of the openings we've seen in Hitchcock's prior films, we are drawn in immediately into the fast paced action. This is a slower paced, richer feeling opening that languishes more than propels you.

 

What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? The camera tracking shots are long edits. The music makes the viewer feel somewhat ominous as does the decayed trail to the house. The viewer is treated to a burn out shell of a house and quickly changes to what looks like a man ready to end it all on the cliffs. I loved the segue of the house to the ocean swirling and waves crashing the rocks - Hitchcock all the way - painting a picture for us.

 

How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? The first character you are introduced to IS the house. By the voiceover you know it is a very important part of the story as the dreamer describes returning to Manderley. The flashback portrayed as a dream that shows us the decay of this once beautiful home indicates to me that this was a grand house but it has a dark story and many secrets. The burned out shell gives me the creeps and the cameral moves are hypnotic, drawing you to Manderley.....The flashback on the cliff itself sets up the first meeting between the main characters and you see the dreamer finally and you also sense the depths of despair in the man playing with the edge of cliff.

 

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1.    Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period? 

 

This scene definitely opens with that nod to the Gothic, with the gates, arches and shadows, as well as with that pan across the great house silhouetted against the night sky.  In fact, the foregrounded house pre-figures Psycho’s house on the hill enveloped by dark clouds.

 

Is this the point where Hitchcock develops a penchant for the iconic?

 

2.    What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? 

 

Within the voice-over we hear tones of melancholy and superstition, and then the film cuts quickly to the turmoil of a raging sea.  These sensory aspects all invoke a sense of dread—that experience that Hitchcock seeks to invoke within his viewers.

 

3.    How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? 

 

The stately house, the melodious music, the articulate voice-over all establish that we have progressed into a more polished and sophisticated realm.  No longer do we experience textual clues with flashing neon lights and travel brochures; now we move—physically through and with the camera dolly—into the world of Manderley, a world of great ancestral homes and aristocratic peoples, a beautiful and richly-textured world.

 

With this opening scene, I anxiously await the journey of a narrative. We’ve evolved beyond the mere frisson for sure!

 

 

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The opening scenes we have seen in this course so far are either light-hearted, even a bit comedic, or completely the opposite with a lot of tension. The opening of ​Rebecca​ is exactly what was discussed in the lecture video--it's gothic noir. The eerie feeling you get right away from Joan Fontaine's narration, the focus of the camera along the overgrown path, the shadows drifting across, and finally, the mansion that looks abandoned and forgotten but still contains secrets.

 

Still, with all the Selznick influence that we can see in this clip, there are moments in it that speak Hitchcock to me. We see his touches with the shadows across the path and Manderley, as well as the direction of the camera. It puts you inside the story, like you are walking up the path yourself and into the window. It reminds me of the dolly shots used in Downhill​, which also put you into the characters and suddenly makes you feel what they are feeling.

 

As with gothic noir, the house usually seems to be described as being alive. At the same time, with this flackback and narration, we realize it's also partly dead and that something horrible happened here. This also gives off a "Hitchcock touch" because we know something happens--even though we're not completely in the know yet--but we are anticipating it. Overall, this introduction makes the story appealing while being suspenseful. Who wouldn't want to enter this mansion?

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1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period?

 

The opening scene of this film starts with a much slower pace then the frenetic and frantic pace of his earlier films. There seems to be a deliberate setting of pace to increase the feeling of suspense.

 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock?

 

The main Hitchcock touch at the beginning of this film is to introduce the characters. Even the ruin of the house Manderlay is a character.

 

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene?

 

When we first see the house all we see is the shadow, then we see in full moonlight the ruin it is through the narration that we understand that the house is a part of the whole story. Once we are introduced to our two main characters we wonder how we get from a high cliff to the ruin of a mansion.

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July 10, 2017 – Hitchcock lecture Part 9
1. Immediately, the narration and Hollywood-style score made me think this is not a Hitchcock picture. And the production value is clearly more magnificent than any of Hitchcock's previous films. Furthermore,  his British films often opened in more “common” environments, such as an inn, a theater, the street, etc. But Manderley is otherworldly, almost fantastical.

 

2. The strong objective camera floating through the Manderley estate is a Hitchcock influence. The liberal use of closeups on Olivier is also somewhat of a signature, as Hitchcock really likes to get into the psychology of his characters. 

 

3. We have an intimate look at the texture, shading, and distinct shape of the house as it is being thematically described by a narrator. I want to learn about the house’s history--the flashback teases the audience on what’s to come, and what will eventually lead our protagonists into the house. The narration gives an almost fairy tale like air, raising my expectations and telling me that this story is going to have an epic scale. 

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Daily Dose #9 

 

I dreamed a dream of times gone by.....

 

1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period?

 

Well, first off this is a very lonely opening - the first part of it, leading to the estate of Manderley has no one it, no crowds, no bright lights or cheery music, it is more gothic, as mentioned in the lecture, with a serious tone to the music and the voice-over.  It's also interesting that the first meeting between the leads is an argument, not the least bit charming.

 

Now, having this voice over by Joan Fontaine means to me, the viewer, that she is the lead character and will survive the film, btw.  But this is the ominous Hitchcock opening of the forties, as opposed to the light-hearted style from The Lady Vanishes or The 39 Steps.

 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? 

 

The style that you can watch this without dialogue and still get the gist of what is going on.  The way the lighting leads the way down the path, the subtle dissolves, and the camera moves used to introduce Olivier.

 

 3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? 

  Manderley is made a character via the voice-over and images.  We know via the opening that something will happen there, something that made the narrator leave the place.  The flashback works, but as I noted before, I now expect the 2nd Mrs. DeWinter to survive to the end, and Olivier to be dead by the end...  It would be interesting to see it done without the flashback (I'm not a Rebecca fan per se. Haven't seen the movie yet and never read the book.  Might have something to do with it being my late sister's favorite.).

 - Walt3rd

Interesting trivia.  Both Selznick International Best Oscar Winners (and the studio only had two in its brief existence) had Homes as a 'character'.  Tara in Gone With the Wind, and Manderley in Rebecca.

 

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1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period? 

​You start off with a view of the moon, looking up at it.  Not down onto a scene like The Pleasure Garden, or The Lodger.  It's all scenery, there is no actor in it until minute 2.10. 

​There is a voiceover, taking the viewer from the present into the past.  The female star is dressed very simply, like anyone watching the picture.  She isn't glamorous like the female star in Lady Vanishes. 

 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? Moving the viewer through the drive to the ruins of Manderley, making us part of the picture.  Then it ramps up quickly with de Winter yelling at a girl, it makes us wonder what did the opening have to do with what we just saw? 

 

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene?

You know something awful happened there, you look at the ruins.  The voiceover is very wistful. But what I don't understand is the voice of the 2nd Mrs de Winter says she dreams she was back at Manderley  What?  Go back to a time where she was insecure and being gas lighted and abused?  The wistful voice contracts with the nightmare of "being back at Manderley"

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1.  The tone of the opening of Rebecca is very different from Hitchcock films of the British period.  Even though The 39 Steps has a brief moment of ominousness when Hannay buys a ticket and we don't see anything but his shoes until a few minutes later, Rebecca is far more moody, with a specific dreamy quality, AND it has a voiceover narration.  It's also a very private, secluded space that is being shown, when Hitchcock prior to this film usually used open public spaces in the beginnings of his films.  And when you see Manderley, it immediately tells you there's a real story to this home -- it not only has a name, but it's in ruins.  What happened here?  And it becomes another character in the story.

 

2.  Several Hitchcock "touches" in the opening.  The Expressionistic lighting, the introduction of an innocent character who we assume will be thrown into extraordinary circumstances.  Also, there's misdirection -- you are led to believe that Maxim DeWinter is going to throw himself off of the cliff, and perhaps he would have, if Joan Fontaine hadn't arrived.  Yet once he sees her, he becomes snappish and downright rude.  Maybe he wasn't going to jump after all.  Also, the tension is there right from the beginning -- there's foreboding in the introduction of Manderley, and while at this point, you don't know what will become of the young woman and Mr. DeWinter, it doesn't look positive at this point.

 

3.  Manderley is a character in several ways -- it's not just a house, because it has a name, and that name implies some kind of grandiosity.  When you see it in ruins, and then as a functional house with the lights on, you know something sinister happened here.  I couldn't help but see the introduction of Manderley as a precursor to the Bates HOUSE (not the motel) in Psycho.  Both appear to have deep and dark secrets attached to them.

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With the ethereal voiceover and images of a winding road through an iron gate, the opening of Rebecca is in contrast to the opening scenes of several of Hitchcock's British films. Whereas many of the previous films feature a frenetic pace and tone, Rebecca is soft and calm. Still, the opening features classic elements of the Hitchcock touch: an anxious feeling of distress and danger with the crashing waves and de Winter straddling the edge of the cliff; the innocent ingenue in the second Mrs. de Winter; and a brooding atmosphere in the dark, moody appearance of Manderley, which is itself a character in the scene through its imposing form and the voiceover's recollection of its influence in days past.

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   Mr. Hitchcock opens with a more expansive scene than his previous British era films. Even though the "Rebecca" opening is of miniature construction, the surrounding areas, the fluid camera tracking and the decaying mansion reflect a looser and grander quality. The scene's opening brings to mind an almost free-floating or dream-like attribute. This differs from Mr. Hitchcock's previous British films in that many of those scenes opened with a great deal of kinetic, earthly activity with hints of suspense and chaos to come. Crowds usually populated these scenes and "Rebecca" is all solitary, mysterious and slow-moving in it's inception.  By further contrast, "Rebecca" seems a static scene (stage) yet the narration and swift camera tracking and alternations of dark and light encourage the scene to a motion. It is not an opening moved by people or brisk edits but one of reflection and contemplation that is only moved by the set design, narration, visuals and light and shadows camera work. This shows how Mr. Hitchcock's Hollywood collaborators were able to enhance the "Hitchcock touch."

  We are drawn and swept into this scene as is apparently the narrator. One gets the feeling this mystery will have a strong psychological bent due to it's adhesive effect on the narrator. By the fluid camera track, we feel that we will be swept into a mystery that may recite a past dark memory that now seems to haunt the film's narrator much like the Manderley mansion, itself.  The opening scene also seems to be similar in movement and effect to Welles' "Citizen Kane" opening. From the reminiscent narration to the foreboding mansion in Kane's film we feel there is going to be a deep-seeded recollection of past events that have significantly influenced the narrator as in Mr. Hitchcock's "Rebecca."  The mansion so clearly defined in this introductory scene will have a focal part in this story, becoming possibly a "scene of the crime" that mysteriously overlooks or haunts both the narrator and indirectly, the audience. 

  The next cliff-side scene is one of a rowdy ocean shot that introduces us to the character played by Laurence Olivier. The unruly sea may represent a tumultuous and dangerous frame of mind reflected in this character. By contrast, the Joan Fontaine character is presented as calm and mild-mannered enjoying a serene seaside walk and could be represented by the modest coastline.  The clashed introduction of these two characters may presage a "no good deed goes unpunished" pull on the Fontaine character by the Olivier character in the film. Tempestuous ocean versus the relaxed coastline. This scene calls to mind the set up in "Vertigo" when the endearing Scotty saves an unsettled Madeleine from her suicidal jump into the SF Bay. Likewise, the Fontaine character in "Rebecca" saves the Olivier character from a possible suicidal jump into the ocean. Both characters in Hitchcock's world may be made to suffer for these brave decisions.

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1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period? 

 

There are no dancing girls - no women screaming - no sporting event nor entertainment venue.  The pace is totally opposite the often frantic pace of earlier movies.  A woman is narrating in a soft but eerie voice and Manderley seems to be the major character.  There are similarities as described below.  I was drawn into the movie because I was interested in what had happened to this poor mansion.  

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? 

The eerie setting with a building that had been damaged (burnt).  The moon and clouds going back and forth with the lighting.  The gate with the bars that cause the "noir" lighting.  The eerie and spooky feeling - like one was at a grave yard.  Fog/shadows/dark to darker.  Then the beautiful woman (not really blonde) and the handsome man.  The violent waves and rocks and the man who looks like he is going to jump.  The music also increases the eeriness and suspense.  

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? 

I felt drawn into the setting even thought it was scary.  I wanted to know more about what happened to this poor place that seemed like it had been beautiful.  I felt like there had been a terrible trauma and wondered who had been killed or hurt here.  I felt like the building had screamed (like women in earlier movies) when it had been destroyed.  The woman's voice was calm but seemed full of foreboding. I got a sense of unease and things never appear as one projects or assumes!

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This is clearly an opening of a Hollywood film, and its mood contrast greatly with Hitchcock's former openings where we used to see a lot of movement and crowd and action, here we have a lonely kind of opening, nostalgic and even melancholic.

The main thing I see as a Hitchcock touch in this scene is the POV camera when Laurence Olivier's character is contemplating suicide, also we can see again the Expressionist lighting having an influence here. 

And in the first minutes of screening we can already tell that the house has an importance in the story by the way it is introduced to us, how the camera runs all the path until it arrives to the house, creating a kind of expectation, and when we finally see the house the camera stays there for some time, plus the dreamy kind of voiceover warns the viewer that something important happened there.

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Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period?

 

 

The opening of Rebecca takes us into the narrator’s dream, as the camera tracks down a dark, dismal, decrepit driveway past our first antagonist: the empty shell of a mansion. A place that has not been touched by sunlight in a very long time. A time which represents the present. Then, suddenly we arrive in a brighter time in the narrator’s past. The music is haunting and sad until broken by the sound of the crashing waves. It’s daytime and a tall, well groomed man stands on the edge of a cliff, obsessed with the water below. Then it grows loud and ominous it insinuates the man is contemplating to jump. Then we see our narrator, a lovely, timid young woman who shouts, believing she is stopping a suicide. Instead she gets she gets barked at by the man. Gone is the frenzy. Gone are the crowds. Gone are the touches of mirth. There is a difference. A chill that runs through us; a heavy danger from which there is no relief.

 

 

 

 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock?

 

His mesmerizing use of darkness and light. In Number Seventeen (1932), his shadows dominate ¾ of the film, which hypnotized me more than the actual story. Hitchcock uses music to foreshadow action and sometimes allow us into the subconscious of a character. The long tracking shot to our first look at Manderley, which competes for the the award for creepiest miniature with the Bate’s house.

 

 

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene?

 

She talks about the house as though it was a dead family member. Sorrowfully reflecting it’s something or someone that sadly is lost forever. She thinks for a moment it was living again when the moon teases light through the windows, but then a dark cloud brings the house and our narrator back to normal.

 

This use of narration and the ghostlike house always gave me the jitters from the first time I saw Rebecca and it still does today. It was an inventive way (there is no other word but original?) to bring the audience into the film, with out the cliché talky flashback. It’s stuff like this that makes people understand what a true cinematic genius he was. And how much he still teaches us today.

 

 

I have always feared doing things like. It’s like having a deadline for a review or taking an exam. Then after you turn it in very fast and you realize how wrong you were or how you missed a nuance which changed the whole object of the film. Then the internet came along and you could correct your blunder in a snap.

 

Speaking of blunders, getting this site to accept my password has given me a look similar to Yul Brynner.

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The opening of Rebecca focuses on the house and that's what you see. It is a slower pace and not a frantic beginning.

The Hitchcock touch I see is how the camera zooms up to the entrance of the house. The eerie atmosphere along the path  to the house and than the switch to the scene of the ocean and the man on the cliff.

The house makes for a strange character that adds to the sinister feel of the movie. I think the narrative explains to the audience the dreariness and strangeness of the house. The flashback  structure explains how it became like that way.

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Hello, Everyone,

1. & 2. & 3.)  The opening of Rebecca is different in that it's a POV shot and the VOICE OVER of Rebecca speaking and the camera dolly movement through MANDERLEY and then you focus on the Manderley, which reminds me of Norman's house in PSYCHO; the way it was shot, the lighting made it appear very spooky, almost like a horror film, certainly I felt suspense lies ahead. Then we focus on a window of the house and then it fades into waves rolling/splashing over rocks, (again shades of PSYCHO: shower scene). The mood comes from dark and gloomy to crashing waves as we pan upward; the music still hinting at something ominous , despite the daylight, and there at top of cliff is a man looking troubled; he takes a step closer to the edge.  A woman screams "No, stop!" and we meet Rebecca, a young woman concerned and worried, trying to help.  The man Maxim de Winter is annoyed at her for screaming and shoos her away, dejected, she runs away. The music here after she leaves is uplifting, almost romantic tone -  forshadowing things to come. #ClearlyHitchcockTouch  

 

Manderley is clearly a character in the movie, the pan of the house, the voice over brings you nearer the house as Rebecca describes her journey to the house and recounts her feelings about it. We, the audience are drawn in.

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Unlike the other scenes we’ve watched so far, there were no crowds of people.   Instead, instead of people, we see “crowds of landscape” before isolating on one house.The music is not as eerie as the accompanying visual suggest.  In some parts, it’s almost whimsical.  It provides quite a contrast for the menacing music as Laurence Oliver is perched on the cliff above the ocean.

 

One touch I noticed is the use of sound as the female character yells “stop” during the closeup of the man approaching the edge of the cliff.  It’s reminiscent of  last week’s film where the train whistle replaced the woman’s scream.

 

I can’t help but thinking about the opening scene in Citizen Kane after watching the opening scene.  The Manderly house is reminiscent of Xanadu in Kane.  In the Hitchcock film, like Welles’ Kane, the house seems to be representative of some type of decline that has befallen those who live in the home.  The narration provides some type of haunting vision of things that were once good but now and depressing.

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The opening of Rebecca differs from the British films we covered last week because it is not a frantic start to the film. It gives us a sense that something bad has happened as we see the decay of the house but we will found out what that something is as the film unfolds before us. The house is also a character in this film just as much as the actors in their roles as we will see in other Hitchcock film's like Psycho with Norman Bates' house and the hotel

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1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period?

 

Most of Hitchcock’s openings in previous films have denoted some public chaos such as the busy theatre in The Pleasure Garden or the bustling crowds in The Lodger and The Man Who Knew Too Much.  The opening scene of Rebecca quickly sweeps the viewer into a romantic, mystical state with the dolly shots into Manderley.  Joan Fontaine’s poetic narration and the hauntingly beautiful music along with the stunning cinematography is the calm before the storm that begins with Laurence Olivier’s preparation to take a leap from a cliff into the ocean.  The scene may have some slight similarity to the opening of The Lady Vanishes that begins on a calm, happy tone before erupting into chaos.

 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock?

 

Hitchcock begins with the surreal atmosphere of the moody cinematography, music and narration.  His use of dolly shots from the gate to the Manderley house carries a sense of German Expressionism, especially with the use of the miniature of the estate.  Although it is not a familiar location such as Albert Hall or Mount Rushmore, the house becomes special as a unique character of the story.  There’s also the Hitchcock touch in the special treatment that he gives his stars.  We are first introduced to Fontaine though her narrator’s voice.  Next, we see Olivier standing near the precipice of a cliff in a powerful introduction as he seems prepared to leap to his death.   Olivier got top billing in the credits but Fontaine came first in her narration in the film.   Perhaps one particular interest that has not been discussed (as far as I can remember) is Hitchcock’s dramatic use of perspective and heights as a method to manipulate the audience’s fears in the opening scene.

   

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley -- the house itself -- as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene?

 

Hitchcock imbues the house with a mystical personality and a mind filled with the memories of everyone that has lived there before.  The house as a character or personality affects the lives of those who encounter it.   The combined scenes of the house with Fontaine’s narration followed by Olivier’s and Fontaine’s first meeting makes the audience apprehensive about how the story is about to unfold.  Will there be a happy ending to this story?   

 

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