Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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The opening scene is at a much slower pace than the earlier films we've seen, no crowds in a public place. Instead, there's an eerie, otherworldly feel to the scene as we slowly move along the overgrown path and eventually see the ruins of the house. It's sad and creepy at the same time. At one time it was a showplace with manicured gardens and well kept grounds. Now, it's in a state of decline and disrepair. It echoes the events that took place in the lives of everyone who lived there, the tragedy and heartache...I've not seen this film in a very long time, but it feels like the house, dark and forboding, is the architectural representation of Mrs. Danvers. The use of light and shadow and mist as well as the twists and turns of the camera angles, are Hitchcock touches.

 

We're suddenly introduced to the main characters during a potential crisis. Laurence Olivier is apparently contemplating suicide by jumping off the cliff. We hear Joan Fontaine before we see her. While she doesn't scream, she does shout to Olivier,trying to stop him from jumping. As with previous films, the initial interaction between the man and woman destined to become a couple starts out on rocky footing.

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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 film opens as a dream sequence with a woman’s voice describing her return to Manderley.  The tone of her narration is soothing, while slow, melodic background music plays.  There are no crowds gathered, no lively music, no humorous jabs interspersed.  The initial setting is a private road leading to an empty mansion.  The camera movements are not quick cuts, but rather, gentle and hovering, giving the sense of floating.  The ocean scene, though a public location, is along a secluded path atop a cliff.  Knowing that Hitchcock had a larger budget in Hollywood than with his British movies supports this being a more complex setting for the opening scenes (large estate, location shots maybe near Big Sur).

 

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

 

The opening scene is minus any people.  The movement through the scene is from the point of view of the narrator via a tracking shot.  Light and shadows are used to mimic breaks in the clouds exposing moonlight.  The tall, closed, iron gate reminded me of the doorway entrance in Downhill.  The camera passes through the gate “like a spirit through the barrier before me” as described by the narrator.

As the camera moves along the driveway, portions of the ground are illuminated, guiding the viewer on the journey, while exterior areas remain in the shadows framing the shot.

 

Fog creeps in to add suspense and delay the reveal of Manderley to the viewer.

 

At first the Manderley estate appears dark and foreboding.   Lighting from different angles provides glimpses of what Manderley looked like to the narrator (“Time could not mar the perfect symmetry of those walls.  Moonlight can play odd tricks upon the fancy, and suddenly it seemed to me that light came from the windows.”), culminating with the camera panning right to show the charred remains of a fire that gutted part of the structure.  The camera zooms in on a darkened window, fades to black, as the narrator’s story ends.

 

The next scene opens to the roaring ocean, bright sunlight, and music swelling.  The camera moves along the coastline up to the top of the cliff revealing a man standing and staring down at the water.  There’s a close-up of his face as he looks conflicted and anxious.  The crashing waves and the heightened music bring on a sense of apprehension and dread as the camera moves to a shot of him from behind, and the viewer gets a glimpse of what he sees down below.  Then the camera cuts to a close-up of his feet nearing the edge.  Suspense is building, and up until now, no dialog has been spoken.

 

A blonde woman yells out, interrupting the man -- in an anti-meet-cute type of situation; but the viewer senses the blonde will be connected to him later.

 

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 the subject of the narrator’s dream and she speaks of it lovingly, as if she was talking about a dear old friend.  She has dreamt about Manderley more than once.  This draws me in and makes me want to know more.  There’s anticipation building as the camera follows the driveway slowly until we get our first glimpse of Manderley.  She says, “Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, shining in the moonlight of my dreams.”  The narrator remembers a happier time at Manderley, and the use of light against the mansion helps me imagine the Manderley the narrator speaks of; but now Manderley is uninhabited, dark, and mysterious.  “I looked upon a desolate shell, with no whisper of a past about its staring walls.”  There was a fire at Manderley – but no more information is given.  What caused the fire?  Why did they leave Manderley?  Why does she say, “We can never go back to Manderley again.” ??

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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 opening scene differs greatly; it isn’t as frenetic, action packed or scary.  Instead, it is mellow, intriguing and has a lot more images and fewer people.

 

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

Possibly the camera angle leading up to our first glance at Laurence Olivier on the cliff.

The sense of dread upon seeing the immediate drop to the ocean.

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 name Manderley is repeated over and over, and then you actually see it, in a dilapidated state. You know it plays a central role in what’s about to unfold.

The flashback and voiceover piques your curiosity – you think to yourself, “what happened to this grand house? Why is it abandoned and dilapidated? Where is the grandeur it once knew?”

 

I particularly like the *name* of this movie :)

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Rebecca is a very intense psychological gothic horror piece.

 

In openings to the previous Daily Doses we see lots of bustling activity. Here we see the iron gates of an estate and creep through them along a winding path towards a mysterious manor. All looks well, with a light shining, but then we see the manor is in ruins. What could have happened to make it such a terrible place? Yet our narrator sounds confident like she has gotten over what has happened and is not afraid to tell her story.

 

The expressionist mood of the "floating" camera is what grabbed my attention. This was followed by Maxim standing a bit too close to the cliff and has us wondering if he is going to jump---and then the girl played by Joan Fontaine shouts for him to stop. The close ups of his face and feet gave us the sense of doom that was ultimately thwarted.

 

Manderley as a character excites us. I used to work in a historic home, and big historic mansions and manors leave people in awe--what kind of people live there, what happened years ago that has left this gorgeous yet imposing place in ruins? The flashback lets us know what twists and turns the story takes, just like the winding road to Manderley.

 

I have seen this before and it is a VERY intense film. The part that always bugged me is that we don't know the second Mrs. de Winter's first name. It drove me mad, why did he never ask her what her first name was?????

 

Motorcitystacy wrote: The part that always bugged me is that we don't know the second Mrs. de Winter's first name. It drove me mad, why did he never ask her what her first name was?????

 

I can relate to your comment about wanting to know the first name of the second Mrs. de Winters. One of my hobbies is genealogy research, and I have noticed that newspaper obituaries prior to the 1960's frequently omitted the first names of married women. Very frustrating when you are trying to figure out who the woman was, for example, when she is identified only as "Mrs. Leroy Jones."    

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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 is not a public space full of people. It's quiet, not boisterous, as the narrator tells of her dream.

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? Light and shadow, camera angles.

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 recounted almost like a long lost friend. The structure makes me aware we are going to be seeing the story of Manderley in the film.

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Rebecca opens not in a crowded public place with lots of activity, which previous Hitchcock films usually did, but in a dream.  The dream is being narrated by a woman speaking in a slow, soothing voice, with little emotion, almost as if she's in the state of hypnosis.  Eerie soft music is playing in the background.  It's very visual.  You feel like you're floating.  You want to know the story of Manderley.  You know it's something tragic - "...we can never go back to Manderley again..."  Hitchcock expertly draws the audience into the film.

 

Very interesting that we never know the name of the 2nd Mrs DeWinter (Joan Fontaine).  I guess in part that's because she's the narrator, but you'd think that someone would call her name at some point in the film.  It seems to emphasize the difference between her & the larger than life (& death) Rebecca.

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1 & 3)

 

The opening of "Rebecca" is so different from most Hitchcock films previously made. Here we have the moon, a glorious shot of a full moon and  a narrative directing visuals along with the camera of the iron gate just before the road/ path to Manderley. Once in, here is nothing but a winding path, somewhat barren-like nature setting, crumble and leafless trees, overgrown brush, trees down; nature takes over. Through use of language and narrative, anthropomorphic qualities are given to the house. Nature encroaches it, and it is described at one point, as having long tenacious fingers that reach up into the drive. Manderley itself had light within the windows and the house had a face. She describes the walls of the house as 'staring' at the onlooker.

There is no loud, public and commonly visited place for this film introduction.

 

 

Hitchcock uses shadow and light in the full moon shot preceding the drive to Manderley. Also, the waves shining under the moonlight and crashing down on the rocks as we are introduced to how our heroine meets Maxim. We hear louder music reaching a crescendo and there is Maxim on the edge of a cliff, wanting to throw himself over. As he takes a step closer to the stormy waters below, he is stopped/ saved by the heroine.

​This scene is a precursor to the type of relationship the couple will have. It starts out rocky, tumultuous and challenging. This continues through the course of the film. The expectations are set for the viewer. It is so well laid out.

 

I love this movie and can watch it over and over and over again and never be bored with it.Of course, the book is just as awesome.

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1.  The scene is different from most of the scenes we've watched in that there are no crowds or audience, not even a person, just a voice.  It's not a public place but a private place, a home in a memory of a dream (they don't get more private than that!).

 

2.  The shot that said "Hitchcock" to me was the shot of the back of Olivier's head looking down to the rocks below followed by his foot stepping closer to the edge.  To me the water crashing onto the rocks shows the internal struggle of the character.  The lure of just ending it all.  The audience is worried for him.  Our hero is in danger, even if only from himself.

 

3.  The way she talks about Manderley makes is seem important to the story she is about to tell.

The voice over narration takes us immediately into the mind of the storyteller, drawing us into the story.  The flashback, gives a first person narrative of what happened to destroy the house.

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1. Opening scene - This opening,is quite different from what we've experienced in the British period. The quick cuts and light music have now become a slow, meandering narrative, like the drive up to Manderley. There are no faces; no close ups. We feel like we're experiencing the dream as described by the narrator. We don't even know who the narrator is at this point. It's dark, blurry, sinister yet peaceful. The location is distinctly British and looks like the landscapes from The Wolfman. We don't even get sound to give us clues. Just the timber of the narrator's voice to guide us up the road to what proves to me a very unwelcoming estate. This is not a public place at all.

 

2. Hitch always tells us what we need to know early in a film. So after we journey up to Manderley we take a flashback step to see how we got to this dream sequence. Crashing rocks and wind; a man stepping towards the precipice; a woman calling out to interrupt the magnetism of that edge; and a snippy retort to a young, concerned woman. The crashing waves seem like foreshadowing. The contrast in personality between the young woman and the snarky Mr. DeWinter blow like the cold wind driving to the cliff. Hitch does give us close-ups so that we can try to assess these people by looks and manner. High shots over the edge give us the odd angles that we see in other Hitch films.

 

3. Manderley is giving prominence by just the uttering those words, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again..." So the house is both the start of some adventure our narrator will go through and will be the ending place where the last adventure will terminate. The narrator basically tells us how this lovely place changed when "nature camei into its own..." The place has gone wild...we will later learn that wild and mad are too closely related. The narrator is calm and almost regretful for what she is letting us see. Is the calmness because we are in her dream? Surely this calmness cannot reflect reality! The flashback sets up the first meeting which is a not very pleasant exchange on the part of Mr. DeWinter. He seems to be lashing out at a young woman who has done nothing but show concern and maybe hint that he might be making a mistake (if he steps forward). As a man who is the lord of his manor (so he tries to convince himself and others), he snaps at her and puts her in her place. Hitch always has romance but this opening always made me hate Mr. DeWinter.

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Think that the camera work of walking down the path, moving thru the gate and panning up the mountain makes u wonder if britian had the same technical equipment, just so smooth, dream like.

 

The hitch touch for me is the tension on the cliff, so close, what will happen, thus creating suspense we know as hitch

 

The house is the macguffin, maybe just a blind for the real meat, Tara on the other hand,

Represents the heart of the plot.

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This opening scene is great!!. Images between shadows and mists, camera that moves down the road, accompanying the story off, tells of a ghostly atmosphere, a nightmare. The image of the House in ruins corresponds to this feeling. Finally the two protagonists meeting occurs in a dramatic instance. When a common film refers to the French Riviera paradise images, but here, the director shows us a stormy sea by tapping on rocks, in an atmosphere of continuing storm as outlined from the start. I think that this may be part of the "Hitchcock touch".


Compared with other early, those a public, common, everyday scene showed: a music hall, a fair of spectacles, an Inn, etc. With many characters in it. Only here the House (which is a main protagonist) and two characters in his first contact, according to what the protagonist tells us.

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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? I see the vast difference between the British silent films They were festive, celebratory at times even frenzied. The opening for Rebecca was pensive , sensitive and reflective. Leading this viewer to be lulled in to a state of false comfort.

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

Most important "touch " for me was the fact that I immediately cared deeply about all of the characters. Those present and to come in the film.

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 house immediately has a persona. It's lights seem to go on at will. It has both reflection and recollection of its inhabitants from the past. It draws one in. And I was well aware of its ominous presence.

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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? 

     

    1. There is a loneliness to the opening cruse through Manderlay's miniature set. In the previous films there was a very populated screen establishing the scene and atmosphere.

     

  2. The dialogue establishes that the film will be a flashback. This is quite different than how the other flims start in medias res.

 

 

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

 

  1. The mobile camerwork suggests the POV of the narrator

 

The use of the miniature set is a Hithcock staple -- though this one was implemented by Selznick.

 

Rear projection of the ocean behing Maxim is also a Hitchcock touch.

 

 

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?

 

  1. Maderlay is featured in quite a extensive opening shot -- it is clearly a character in teh film

 

The narrator underlines its importance to the story which apparently will be a flashback, centering on Manderlay.

 

The flashback implies that whatever happens, Mrs. DeWinter will survive.

 

 

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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?

We do see the main characters introduced, but there is no large gathering of people. The other beginnings have included busy scenes with lots of people, something missing here. We do see ordinary characters, but we see wealth and opulence implied, that the characters have- something missing from the previous main ordinary characters introduced.

 

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

It is very dark and suspenseful as the camera pans over the burned out house and the crashing waves. It also begins with the end in mind, like the dialogue from Man who knew too Much and 39 steps.

 

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 house seems to be a character as Mrs. De Winter fondly recalls its beauty and her majestic days in the house. Her voice is describing something beautiful, but the camera pans to show a burned out she'll of a house. It helps to create suspense and an unknown element.

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Another unsettling opening scene. The camera glides along the overgrown Manderley driveway, to end up at the skeletal remains of the house, where shadows play tricks on the eye.

 

As if that's not enough, how do Maxim and the "future second Mrs. DeWinter" meet? She foils his suicide attempt! Not exactly yer Hollywood "meet-cute" scene.

 

Something I was struck by here, though I've seen the movie several times, was Joan Fontaine's narration. She thought of making her voice lower, as if it were an older version of the character talking. Well done.

 

I have this movie on DVD, and will go watch it immediately!

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The opening is a slow, winding, narrative voice over that focuses on Manderley (place) instead of one character (person)- Though I DO think that part of what makes the novel and the film so great is that the place IS a character, embodying the stifling aspects of Rebecca's constant influence. This is a lot different than the openings of the British films, and feels more... refined and put together, but that could be the music or the voice over.

 

Hitchcock touch is the POV through the drive to Manderley and coming up upon Maxim as he's looking out over the cliff.

 

The effect of the voiceover lulls you into a reverie that would put you into the world of the story- class, wealth, with a touch of "appearances aren't everything".

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The opening to Rebecca is different from Hitchcock's previous openings in many respects. There is no bustling around in a public place; there is no performance going on nor is there a crowd to which to cut.  We are taken on an eerie dream-walk into a dark overgrown wood, a serpentine walk narrated in beautiful prose by a lovely disembodied voice, a walk that eventually reveals what appears to be a rambling, rundown mansion, Manderley. I can identify a touch of Hitchcock in the way the camera moves through the wood. I also felt the sense of foreboding I felt during the coach ride to Jamaica Inn. And, of course, when I first laid eyes on Mandeley, I thought of Mother Bates' fine house. I'm now prepared for a Gothic Horror story and I'm hoping for an appearance by Una O'Connor.

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Daily Dose #9

Daily Dose #9: Last Night I Dreamt
Scene from Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940)

 

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? 

Considering all the opening covered in the Daily Doses, I think this is the first one that includes a narration which along with the image sets the rest of the film as part of a flashback. Also, unlike other Hitchcock openings which are usually located in noisy and public places where the pressence of a crowd is a sign, the Rebecca's first sequence shows us an abandoned mansion covered with plants. In that way, from the very beginning, this story feels subjetctive like it is going to be a personal, intimate or familiar conflict which is limitated to Manderley. The use of the past time increases the curiosity about all the things that happened and could have led to the present state of the mansion and the way, the woman is talking about it.

    

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

Despite the fact that this opening scene already displays us how Manderley is going to end up, Hithcock is still playing, like I mentioned in my first response, with the mistery, in this case, of how this happened. There is still a sense or a glimpse in the shadowy and dark dreamy atmosphere of the sequence that recalls the German Expressionism influence on Hithcock. The lighting and the camera movements are the tools used to convey that feeling. I particularly love the way the lights changed during this scene while the second Mrs. De Winter describes the cloud which passed and covered the moon.

Other hint of Hitchcock's touch is the presence of tortured characters such as Mr. De Winter (Laurece Olivier) which is another proof of the German Expressionism that emphasized in the psychological side of the characters. Including the images of Manderley, the entire scene transmits a lot and we have only seen a mansion, a cliff, a man and a woman.  

 

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? 

In my opinion, through the narration, the pictures and the time on the screen, it is pretty clear that the mansion is important for the story. However, the tone and feeling of those particular images and the way the second Mrs. De Winter refers to Manderley, it feels like it was like a person, a fascinating one although it is possible to sense that it has something dark or sinister inside (probably like the character of Rebecca). It is easy to conclude that a bad event took place there at some point, but even so, there is a certain longing in the woman's voice which makes the whole situation confusing and interesting. It makes urgent to know all the facts and especially who is the woman who is talking ans what is her relation to the house. 

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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 is not a public space full of people.

 

The viewer is immediately drawn into the opening scene by the narration and the movement of the camera with a smoky darkness of an isolated location - dreamlike in its presentation.  The speed of the camera slower at the beginning, and moves along rapidly in anticipation of where the next scene will lead. We wonder who lives there and what memories may have existed.  Is there some tragedy or darkness beneath the walls of this grand Gothic house?  We then see two characters surface and what is the relation between them, and what may have occurred there.  When we dream, we remember events that have happened but then we wake up with just a memory.

 

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

 

In this film as in others, you see his signature style in visual storytelling techniques, camera movement, lighting, and voyeuristic perspective.  The dark effects in lighting to create mood, mystery, and a sense of uneasiness.

 

3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? 

 

It gives the viewer an invitation to enter the dream of a place that had a history and of great importance to the characters in the story.  We can only enter from the outside and get a voyeuristic view of darkness, emptiness, loneliness, and leaves a mysterious feeling of what brought them there in the first place.  It leaves us an uneasy feeling that there may have been some unhappiness or tragedy there.

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The opening scene is different in that the rush of movement is coming from the ocean water, rather than from people.   We see the crashing waves as an indicator that something very dark and mysterious is brewing in this story.

 

In classic Hitchcock POV filming, the viewer experiences the journey on the road to the Manderley estate up close and personal, as the background story is narrated.  We are seeing through the eyes of the character as she is approaching the house.

 

Manderley is given life-like qualities with such references as its "staring walls," and it appears to come to life with lights at one point. I think seeing this particular scene sparks the viewers interest in how we got to that point in time, and what role the house itself may have played in the story, if any. 

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The opening in Rebecca fundamentally is different from the multiple opening scenes we have seen in the British silent and/or sound period as the story is being told in flashback, narrated by one of the characters. 

Even thought Rebeca was produced by the hyper control-oriented David O. Selnick (and despite the clashes between that have been well documented and analyzed by film scholars),  there are  Hitchcock "touches" apparant in this opening.  The establishing shots of Maxim de Winter on a high cliff overlooking the crashing waves (including the pov shot) are Hitchcockian.  In addition, the exchange between the unnamed woman (who is to become the second Mrs. de Winter) and Maxim de Winter is really another instance of an innocent (i.e., the woman) stumbling into what appears to be a serious circumstance (a possible impending suicide). 

3. The opening sequence use Manderly as a kind of character in the story, along with the flashback structure and the voiceover narration, is quite intriguing; what is the story behind the mansion that lays in ruin, and the longing to return to an earlier time?  What will the relationship be between the privileged (but curt and introspective) Englishman and the woman who, with good intentions, intrudes on his solitude?

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As always, I enjoy readying the posts and when I reach this point, it seems that everyone has pretty much said what I would have, and so much more. That in mind, I'll share an observation.

 

When I listen to the opening narration to Rebecca and its reference to Manderley, it reminds of the opening sentences of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe:

 

Rebecca

Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the Iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter for the way it was barred to me. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it has always done. But as I advanced, I was aware that a change had come upon it. Nature had come into her own again, and little by little had encroached upon the drive with long tenacious fingers, on and on while the poor thread that had once been our drive. And finally, there was Manderley - Manderley - secretive and silent

 

The Fall of the House of Usher

During the whole of a dull, dark and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was - but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit… I looked upon the scene before me - upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain - upon the bleak walls - upon the vacant eye like widows - upon a few rank sedges - and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees…

I stood - found myself

passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. - a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit

change had come upon it. - landscape features

secretive and silent - melancholy

 

Both properties are introduced at the very beginning:

Manderley - House of Usher leaving the viewer/reader wondering what happened to the first and what will happen to the second.

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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?

Rebecca happens to be one of my favorite movies, and having read the novel by Daphne DuMaurier as well, I love this opening.  It is very faithful to the opening of the novel.  In so many of the other openings we have seen thus far, we are introduced to the characters, and often times even the premise of the plot we are about to watch unfold.  In Rebecca, we see setting, and listen to narration.  We feel the remoteness of the location, the other-wordly feel as we wind our way along the path.  We have a sense that we are being removed from the familiar, and entering into a different time,  Instead of being in a public place, we are removed from the common, everyday world and placed into a world of castles and ghosts, someplace that doesnt exist for most of us.  Thus, it is very different than the openings we have seen in the other movies.  

 

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

One of the first "touches" that I see is the fluid movement of the camera.  Just as we saw in Downhill as the young college boys are approaching the dean of students, the camera tracks and assumes a POV quality.  As the camera winds its way through the densely overgrown driveway of Manderley, we too become a part of the story, and find ourselves swept into the dream itself.  Another Hitchcock touch is seen when the camera focuses on the cliff, tracks upward to Maxim on the cliff, and then we see a high angle shot looking over Maxim's head and seeing the precipice he is standing on.  By then seeing his feet, we become as involved as "I", and think that he is going to jump.  By seeing this, we gain insight into Maxim's tortured character, and believe something is unstable about him.  The camera moves throughout these first three minutes to capture us into the action 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 this scene? 

Manderley, the sprawling castle we see in the beginning of the film, is indeed very much a character of this film.  Hitchcock's opening  reinforces the idea that Mandarley is as much a character in this film as Tara in Gone With the Wind.  While Tara represents Scarlet's stubborn nature to hang on to that which is most important her and all that is lost, Manderley represents to "I", the second Mrs. deWinter's inability to escape Rebecca's presence, or her ability to only establish herself as Maxim's wife when Manderley is nothing but a memory.  By focusing on this in the opening scene, we have a sense of that which haunt's the second Mrs. deWinter, and understand almost immediately the importance the castle has to Maxim and all those touched by the spirit of Rebecca.  Manderley is the last remaining physical vestige of Rebecca.  Between the narration and the flashback, I feel certain that I am in a ghost story, and that evil and sinister forces are at work.  It establishes the sinister tone of the film.  Rebecca is reaching out to us from the very grave, and we expect that tone to continue throughout the film because we are immediately placed into a flashback structure.

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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 not in some kind of exotic, loud, theater or hotel it is quite the opposite. The opening is set in a dark quiet forest on a path leading up to an old mansion. There is a quiet narrative of a lone woman telling of a dream, even the music score is quiet until we see the ocean and the waves breaking against the cliff then the music crescendos and gets louder.

 

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

The use of light and dark transitioning back and forth and the movement of the camera roll through the path up to the mansion. The mansion itself seems like it will be a character in the film how the windows light up as the moon and clouds transition themselves like it's alive. The use of music and sound effects are used with care like a silent film, if there was no dialogue the viewer can get the sense of what might be happening.

 

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 viewer is shown that something happened here, we do not know what yet, some wrong doing perhaps as we are told by the narrator that she hasn't been back in years. I get a longing of good memories of the house but visually I am curious to know what happened there.

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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? 

 

I say it is not that different. The house is also a character in the film. As the narrator tells us nature has taken over Manderley. The drive is grown over and though the house still stands, it is burned out and yet still a thing of beauty.

 

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

 

He uses the camera to take us on a ride to Manderley. It is dark and dreary. Then we see the waves and the high shores of the coast with a man standing on the edge. He slowly move his left foot closer to the edge. Is he going to jump or not. Something happened to bring him to this spot and we are hooked and want to know more.

 

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? 

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