Dr. Rich Edwards

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

 

- Woman's Voice Narration

One thing I instantly noticed is the application of a woman's Voiceover that explains about the house in her personal point of view. This makes the opening is more intimate compared to Hitchcock's previous works. The information about the story is already specific from the beginning. We know that at least there are two important elements in the films ; the woman's point of view and Manderley, the house itself which also become a character in the story.

 

- Detail of the house

Other thing is about the detailing of the setting from the beginning. The more detail the information, the more curiosity occurs. We as the audience want to know more about what has happened in Manderley.

 

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

 

- The Point of View shot

This time around, the POV shot is executed with tracking camera movement as the representation of someone's in the car riding in to the house. 

 

- The establishment of the key characters

Just like what we have seen in Hitchcock's previous works, he likes to introduce his characters effectively from the start. In Rebecca, the audience can tell from the beginning that The Man has something to do with the sea. 

 

- The mention of Manderley

Hitchcock likes to play around with words or jargon. I think the mention of Manderley from the very beginning also reminds me of Hitchcock 'touch'. 

 

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? 

 

We can tell that Manderley is not presented only as a setting from the wide shot of the house as the opening and also from the close up shots (with tracking) that give the audience very detail information about the house. The intention is even stronger when the woman's narration also mentioned about it.

 

The flashback structure and the voiceover narration give deep and personal feeling since the very beginning. It invites us to be in someone's world where a very important incident had happened. The character of the woman's soft voice might also bring the audience for another interpretation.

 
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Last night I dreamt... Rebecca is my absolute favorite Hitchcock film. The beginning narration of Joan Fontaine voice, and her dream, always gives me the chills of anticipation and anxiety, no matter how many times I watch this movie. Which, by the way, is probably about 100 or more times. That first dolly shot taking us down the overgrown drive is the first giveaway of the Hitchcock touch. Yet, it is different than openings in previous Hitchcock films. It has a more gothic air, with the mist and the shell of a mansion, and of course we want to know what the heck happened. It has a much slower, dream-like pace, not edgy and frenetic. Also, Hitchcock does not give us a lot of information in that opener: only a woman's voice talking about her dream about what appears to be her former residence that burned to a skeleton of itself. That house is a dark character in itself. And we see that later through Judith Anderson's almost sexual love for the house she has taken care of, like a mistress. It feels so Jane Eyre, so mysterious, so dark and foreboding to me, which I why I can never get enough of it. 

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1. The opening scene is different because it's not a public place or someplace where people are screaming (The Lodger). It's just a winding road, though a bit ominous.

 

2. The foreboding house, deep in shadow, is a Hitchcock touch. We know something awful happened there. The Olivier character standing over the sea, we almost get his POV of the sea. The ordinary, plain girl is about to be thrown into a very mysterious situation. For example: husband is secretive and moody,  housekeeper malevolent, plus Fontaine's character knows "nothing" about being a "great lady" (insecurity) . She has no idea she will be subjected to psychological torment by all the comparisons to Rebecca.

 

3. Manderley is important in the film and therefore is like a character. Maxim clearly loves the house, as does Mrs. Danvers. It also seems to have eyes and a personality of it's own, very dark and cold. Very large, impersonal rooms. The flashback makes the viewer want to watch what has happened to the narrator and the house. It reminds me of the film, Gaslight, where the heroine is swept off her feet in the South of France, then comes home to near-tragedy.

 

I really love this film. I thought George Sanders was perfect as the gossipy "cousin". The only thing that irritated me was the fact that Fontaine's character never seems to tell Maxim about the disrespectful treatment by Mrs. Danvers, and how Mrs. Danvers wanted her to commit suicide! A husband and wife would surely share confidences, in my opinion. But maybe because Maxim was such a "tortured soul", she didn't want to bother him. I would have had Mrs. Danvers fired! But I am not the author of the story; it is Hitch's story and Danvers had to be in it till the end.

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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 this first scene is different from Hitchcock's British films. We have yet to see narration open a movie; we haven't yet seen a long tracking shot like the driveway. However, interrupting Olivier from the cliff reminded me of Hitchcock's quick disruptive scenes that tease the audience in to thinking something bad had happened.

 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? Again, the cliff 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? The filming of the different lighting of the house made the house come alive.

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The opening of Rebecca right off shows how vastly different Hitchcock's American period will be from his British period. The beginning of this film is very slow, very measured leaving behind the frenetic energy and pace of his British films. The beginning seems also very ominous and foreboding of what is to come. There are however still touches that are Hitchcock like the dark shadows of the house as it comes into view and the close-ups on Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. 

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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 is a very different opening than we've seen. We aren't watching watchers as we have in the past, unless there are those that the house is watching. The camera is very mobile for the tracking toward the house, but fairly still once introducing the two leads. I suppose between the narration (also different) and the tracking shot potentially a POV shot of sorts, we may in a way be watching someone.

 

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

 

I find there are less touches in this opening, but the darkness of Olivier (literally and figuratively) steps from death strikes me as a bit of the thrill/suspense we've come to expect thus far.

 

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'm struck by the mobility of the camera through the woods to the house. It's the first thing we hear about (through the narration) as well as the first thing we come to - not the actual characters - and the house is where the camera stops.

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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? 

 

In comparison to the other openings, it is somber and more mysterious. There are no characters to be introduced to, and no one to instantly root for until both Olivier and Fontaine appear. There is only Fontaine's narration which makes it seem like a dream. It introduces Manderey as an imposing character, even when in its most decrepit state. It is more personal and intimate than the other openings. It is a little eerie, considering that it sounds as if she too is dreaming. This is a great way to opening a film because it sets the story in motion and adds a sense of unease of not exactly knowing what's going to take place. It's a really amazing film!

 

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

 

There are sounds of wind and waves crashing, which is used to create tension. The camera movements create an eerie quality that emphasises the tone and mystery. More importantly, there is Manderley itself, where gothic exists. It is dominates the entire frame. There are also the comparisons of between both characters; Olivier is brash and tormented, while Fontaine is concerned and innocent. There is always the complexity in people in a Hitchcock film, sometimes to the point where it's effectively difficult to place your trust. 

 

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 think the way Manderley is described, it really becomes the main character that is going to obviously loom large over everyone. Fontaine's narration instantly draws us into her mind and point of view. You really feel sympathy for her even before she is introduced. The flashback helps us to wonder how the house came to be as empty and dilapidated as it is shown. You get the sense that it was a house that was once full of cheer and joy, now it's full of lifeless sorrow and tragedy. 

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Rebecca is a gorgeous film, but I do not ordinarily think of it as a Hitchcock film.  After the many other films we've visited it seems that there are a number of Hitchcock touches that are missing in this film - the chase, and I don't even think there's really a MacGuffin in this film.   One could argue that Max is the 'wrongly accused man' but even then I'd say it was a stretch.

I do like the idea that we will begin seeing a new pattern of supporting players take a more prominent role in his films.  It's a valid point made in the lecture discussion.

 

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?

What we've seen in other opening clips is a public place like a theater.  Also missing is a gathering of people or a crowd to set the tone.   Hitchcock employs other methods here to establish a mood.  He starts off using a POV, tracking shot down the long driveway.  What I also noticed is that he uses ‘nature’ in this opening - the fog (which we'd seen in The Lodger), the twisted cypress trees (we'll see more trees in Vertigo), and the angry, crashing surf against a jagged cliff face.  Using light and shadow, the gothic mansion seems to approach us (rather than us to it) and it appears to be moving and breathing.

 

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

I can see a more modern and sophisticated take on German Expressionism here.  The man standing on the edge of the cliff reminds us of the fatalist aspect.   Max is a very guilty man; he suffers.  The play of light through the trees and the fog, creating ominous shadows.

The tracking and POV shots help us to get into the psychology of the character -  the second Mrs. DeWinter through her narration and the drive down the path.  And the high shot above and behind Max as he contemplates the surf below – it is dizzying; we feel like we’re about to topple over as Max is about to jump.  (Note: if you consider what Hitch had against blondes, let’s also consider what he does to acrophobics like me).

 

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’ve probably already answered this question above.  The house itself seems alive, like a witch, inhabiting the woods.  The voiceover narration seems to me to be about as far from Hitchcock as you can get.  My sense is that:  Selznick is forcing Hitchcock to stay truer to the source material.  Secondly, I have the feeling that, while the entire scene is rather ‘dreamy’ it moves the story along quicker.  It may have ended up being a much longer movie had he not set up the opening like this.  In this case, I believe the narration works.

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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 British films mostly opened with a scene set in a public place. A specific action is occurring with numerous people involved in the observance or participation of the action. The scene is lively. Rebecca opens almost in direct contrast; a private, deserted drive. No one is present. The overgrowth on the drive and the decaying she'll of the mansion convey a dead scene, void of any action.

 

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

Specifically, the camera angles, the high and low angles and the moving POV shot of the drive to the decayed mansion.

 

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?

We are introduced to Manderley at the very first....the house is old, decayed and seemingly a useless relic, but due to the voiceover and the flashback structure, we come to sense the importance the house has in the story and will play a central role, therefore taking on the form of a character. The effect of the moon shining down almost gives the structure life very briefly, before it leaves and the house one again seems dead.

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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? 

 

It's different because we open with less action/grab than the other films. It's a voice over with a shot of a the moon then a gate as we begin to travel up the road. The other films opened with a screaming lady or in a public setting. The previous films hit the road running where this one opens slower.

 

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

 

The Hitchcock "touch" can be seen in the eerie winding road but the biggest touch that comes to mind is when the second Mrs. de Winter sees Mr. de Winder at the edge of the cliff and yells "No, Stop!" It reminded me of the scene in Blackmail where she yells "Knife!". 

 

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? 

 

Madereley immediately feels eerie, scary and possibly haunted from what we hear in the opening dialogue. The house itself looks old and run down, but what stood out to me that made it seem like a character is when the shadows from the moonlight were going over, it felt as if the house was breathing. Then the lights seemingly turning on added to the "living character" feeling.  

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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 sound period ushers in a productive period for Hitch as he has access to bigger budget and the "stars" for his vision. There is not much difference with the exception of narration providing the set-up for the audience as I call it, we, the voyeurs. The narration by Joan Fontaine is quite faithful to the novel's opening and gives the audience a background into what we are about to see. 

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

We see the close-up of the gate to Manderley. As the dolly moves into the twisting drive way toward the mansion along with narration, we are introduced to the most important character in the film, Manderley. The shot of the crashing waves upon rocks and the vertical shot of Olivier standing on the edge of the cliff is a touch of the unmistakeable Hitchcock touch. 

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 gives a structure and sense of the story as it unfolds. I come to know a bit of the past of these two people. 

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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.

Right away, we have the main character talking about the past, her past, and the house that she used to live in. The camera takes her perspective and leads us into the story as if we are sharing her dream. The effect is more surreal than the opening scenes of earlier Hitchcock films. We don’t have a murder to deal with or a public place that seems normal and everyday. We have a house that is part of the narrator’s dream and part of her past, and from the way that she describes the house, we know that living in it was unpleasant and disconcerting for her.

 

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

The transition from the dream to the flashback, with the broiling sea and the unsettling music, came the closest to a Hitchcock touch for me. Honestly, though, there didn’t seem like much else about this opening clip that was similar to his earlier films.

 

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

The film starts right away with the house, even though we don’t see it right away. Everything that the narrator says leads us, as the camera leads us, to the house. The camera moving along the overgrown drive is taking us to what it most important: the house itself. The flashback then takes us to the beginning of the story about the house and the narrator’s experience living in it. The house even has its own name.

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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.

 

Than you so much for pointing this out. I thought of The Fall of the House of Usher, too. But even more uncanny for me was the similarity of the opening shot of the moon with the opening shot of the moon in the film The Letter, starring Bette Davis. I remember the moon playing a large role in the Bette Davis film. It appeared and reappeared almost like an observer. In Rebecca, it seems to bring Manderlay to life in the narrator's memory.

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I think this opening is different than the multiple openings in that there is no crowd or obvious turmoil at opening.   

The Hitchcock touches in this film opening that help me identify it as a film directed by Hitchcock is the taking us through the woodsy driveway then the waters crashing against the rocks and then BOOM the long shot of way up there the man, alone, standing, contemplating-- to jump?  

The opening uses Manderley -- the house -- as a kind of character in the story by making it prominent, a standout, a mysterious back drop, not background, but we immediately know this house is or will be a character in this film.  

The affect the voice over narration and flashback structure have on my experience of this scene is I am not too sure other than that there will be great story and cinematography ahead.  

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First I must ask: Am I the only one who noticed that Dr. Gehring called Joan Fontaine "Joan Crawford"?

1) "Rebecca's" opening scene is entirely devoid of humour, livelihood and other players. It is narrated by an unscene woman and she gives a most maudlin reminiscence of her old home.

2) The tight close up on Laurence Olivier and the hint of will-he-or-won't-he plunge to his demise let you know that you are watching a Hitchcock film.

3) The lighting that changes in tandem with the narrator's description of Manderley allow the viewer to see the house in various seasons and times throughout it's life. This house has many stories to tell. Based on my film experiences, nothing good is going to come from what lies within the walls of this 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?  In the past films there are close up of people in the opening scenes. 


2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? The erieness of the scens.  The low monotone voice and is suspenseful.  The crashing of the sea against the rocks and the forward step on the edge Lawrence toodk. 


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 dark outline of the house reminds me of the scary Bates motel.  The voice over and flashback adds to the supense of the movie that you know you are in for a good movie.


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1.  Here we have a Hitchcock film opening with a narrator in a quiet voice telling us about her dream; surreal, calm, a beautiful scene lit by moonlight.  How very different from the crowds, pace action oriented scenes we have seen in previous films like the Lodger, Blackmail, and The Man Who knew Too Much.  Killer on th loose, silent screams, crowds attending a sporting competition and the many characters involved.  In Rebecca the scene invokes a feeling of sadness rather than fear or horror, but it does promise that there is more that we willl learn as the story unfolds.

 

2.  The Hitchcock Touches are evident in the creative way the audience is invited into the dream.  The camera actually takes us on the journey through the gate, and then along the path that leads to Manderlay as though the audience is actually walking with the narrator towards Manderlay. The set design and cinematography is beautiful.  The use of light and shadow is very effective in briefly awaking the house and then back to sleep it goes when light moves to shadow, then the final reveal of the damage to part of the structure.

 

3.   I suppose when the camera/narrator reaches Manderlay the lights in the window might be seen as the house awakening so that the structure takes on a character of its own.  The narrator in some ways sounds like in her dream she is visiting a friend that she knew in the past. The success of this opening scene for me is that I became invested in learning more about what is to come.  The introduction of the main characters, the scene that begins on the rocky shoreline, the camera panning from a distant shot of a man on a cliff,then the close up, his look of resignation and finally the camera angle behind the man as he takes a step forward to the cliff's edge creates a heightened sense of danger. Finally the shout from a young women telling the man to stop creates an emotional connection to the characters very early in the film. 

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As always, this course is exposing me to a variety of films that I have always heard about, but never seen. Rebecca is one such film, and I will most likely be trying to record it this week. As I watched this film opening, it almost was like seeing a novel come to life on the screen. Currently I'm reading The Woman in White and this opening scene with the mansion reminded me of that novel. Joan Fontaine's voice is perfectly haunting and immediately draws you into the story. At first, this seemed very un-Hitchcock like; the gothic setting was more akin to Wuthering Heights or even Gone with the Wind (unsurprising, as both were Selznick films) than Strangers on a Train or Psycho. Yet, it is the way Hitchcock films the story that is very Hitchock-ian.

 

I use the scene of Lawrence Olivier and Joan Fontaine as an example. Based on the first few seconds of the film, we as the audience anticipate that Olivier is planning on jumping; it is just a matter of when he will do it. Rather than immediately bring Joan Fontaine into the scene, Hitchcock spends a few minutes building up the suspense of whether or not Olivier will jump. There are other elements of the Hitchcock touch in this scene as well. In spite of opening in this very grand shot, when we are introduced to the characters, we get the impression as the audience that at least Joan Fontaine is an "ordinary person" who will be thrust into extraordinary (and suspenseful) circumstances. At the very least, it is her casualness of dress and hair that indicates she is not by any means an extraordinary person, especially when contrasting between her and Olivier. 

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"Rebecca" is one of my favorite Hitchcock films, perhaps due to the slower, pensive pace not just of the opening, but throughout the film, which sets it apart from Hitchcock's earlier work. You have the narration which sets the tone in large part, but you also have the chance to become familiar with Manderley yourself, through the POV of the speaker. It is not a fast moving film - despite the fact that Mrs. Van Hopper admonishes the soon-to-be second Mrs. deWinter that she "gives her credit for [being] a fast worker" in gaining Maxim's affections! (Still waters DO run deep)

This approach, although different from its predecessors, still is classic Hitchcock: It is absolutely NOT a so-called typical opening scene for most films as has been established; but for Hitchcock, it draws the audience into the action via the voice over and POV of the second Mrs. deWinter - definitely his "touch." It just does so at a slower pace than his previous work which, to me, helps build the suspense and intensity of the story. You can't wait to find out what will happen next.

This opening sequence also uses Manderley as a character through the words spoken by the second Mrs. deWinter; she speaks of the house reverently,almost  as her opponent in many ways, because Rebecca herself had such a strong, impenetrable hold on Manderley that it was as if they were one and the same - making her feel as if she never belonged, or could belong, there as mistress of the manor. This element brands it as horror, and makes Mrs. Danvers' later comment to the second Mrs. deWinter about the "dead watching the living" especially potent. Rebecca is gone, but Manderley still lives.

 

 

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Rebecca 1940  ...Daily Dose #9...opening scene

 

My first thought is how beautiful the sunlight  can be streaming through the trees in the fog. Morning, afternoon, evening doesn't matter ...this is nature in its full beauty. This is difficult to find naturally, but I know the movie makers made this with fog machines & big lights...I don't care it is lovely. Photographers look for this kind of scene naturally ...at least I do & it is difficult to find. 

 

The little intro story that goes along with the beauty of the scene is a contrast because it looks as though the house is not occupied; I know what happened to it because I* have watched this movie, but in keeping with the opening scene I will say it looks as though something happened there...something not so nice.

 

The path winding through the fog is lovely but could be treacherous in the fog. It is a good hint of what awaits in the house when the new Mrs. de Winter (Joan Fontaine) moves in. Unsure footing & so on is hinted at in this low light & heavy fog, but with sunlight pouring in for hope. Twists & turns abound also in the opening scene & the house shrouded in darkness & light... then darkness again along with the voice over is wonderful & mysterious. Who could resist watching this movie after this tempting opening? Not me.

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

 

- The Point of View shot

This time around, the POV shot is executed with tracking camera movement as the representation of someone's in the car riding in to the house. 

This particular point-of-view reminded me of another somewhat evil house scene from the eyes of Julie Harris in The Haunting (1963) when she first arrives at Hill House and finds herself drawn this house of dark and mysterious beauty.  

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  • Is very different from the previous Hitchcock films as the opening is so very, very slow and equally paced as we listen to Joan Fontaine talk and the camera slowly follows the overgrown driveway up to the burned mansion.  All his films jumped into scenes with lots of action, talking, lots of primary and secondary characters and the settings were fast-paced.  Here ...we are wondering why the mansion was empty and a shell of a place and then get to see the two characters meet in fairly normal circumstances while out for walks in nature.  We all take walks, usually not in the south of France, but being outside isn't unique like the majority of his previous films.  We see many things in their interaction:  recuser vs. alleged victim; rich and powerful vs. modest and meek, etc.

The coolest thing is when L.O. is up on the cliff and we see the scene start in the water that has a shadow visible, which is the exact silhouette of J.F.'s profile.  Then the camera advances out and up as it climbs the cliff.  Beautifully shot and the intensity is felt, despite it being gorgeously chosen in the south of France, we still get a chill up out spines that is abnormal for this warm weather scene.

Yes, the mansion is a kind of character most certain.  The home had a life of its own and seems to truly be Rebecca now that she is dead.  The cloud remains for J.F. as the home still appears in her dreams with sadness and regret at the same time.  Weird aspects of this film is J.F. really is like a ten year old and too slowly matures when she is married and the veil is slowly being pulled back for her.  The flashback tell us bad events occurred and like earlier Hitchcock films follows his touch in the way he lays everything out on the table at the start, so we empathize with the characters and wish for their success, even though we know it may not turn out quite right from the start. There is always the negative aspect of death either prior to the story line or during it.  We know this in many previous films:  Jamaica Inn; The Lodger, and; 39 Steps, etc.   Our first instinct is to help save the innocent actor by yelling at the screen, "walk away now and quickly!"   I saw this movie when I was single and in my twenties and I realized how vulnerable the quick engagements to marriage truly were in the olden times.  Maybe that is why I wanted until I was 34 to marry.   :rolleyes:

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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 biggest, most obvious difference for me is definitely the pacing. The other scenes we've looked at gave me the impression of being out in public somewhere, happening upon some action, and stopping to see what's going on. You're launched right into the film at a fast pace, often witnessing events that will turn out to be key later on in the story right away. With Rebecca, it's more like you float into the setting all by yourself at a slow pace. Instead of being out in public, you're someplace that feels very private. It's not better or worse than the way things were done in Hitch's previous films, but definitely different.

 

You're also told instead of shown when it comes to the information Hitchcock wants to give you as the viewer right out of the gate. You hear a narrative that (I assume) comes straight out of the book and adds context to what you're seeing, instead of simply being shown a scene and left to interpret it for yourself. In fact, this feels more like the opening scene of a book than it does almost anything else for that reason.

 

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

 

Even though it's clear that the narrator is reliving a dream she sometimes has about a place she once lived, we're still seeing what she sees as if from her point of view. We even get to float through the front gate all ghost-style just like the narrator says she does when she's dreaming. That's definitely something Hitch not only likes to do, but does well -- puts the viewer into the shoes of a key character and shows them how things look from their point of view. This is a very subjective scene we're seeing as well -- a dream, which may or may not be 100% true to the actual setting. This scene is as much about how the narrator perceives and remembers Manderley as it is introducing us to the place itself -- a total Hitch thing.

 

There's also plenty of that eerie mood-setting I associate with a lot of Hitch's later work. You can definitely tell this is going to be a suspenseful film that gets you thinking and wondering about various mysteries. I also feel like Hitch is doing his best to give me some information about Manderley's ultimate fate right up front so I'm not spending too much of my viewing energy wondering. You can see that it's an abandoned, burnt-out shell of what it formerly was. 

 

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 narrator doesn't speak of the house in a way that I feel people do when they're recollecting a place. She recalls her memories of it as you would memories of a person. What she's saying sounds really personal. Almost wistful and a little regretful. It's how I would talk about someone I used to know, but had some mixed feelings about -- like an old friend I had a falling out with, maybe -- but not necessarily a place I used to live.

 

Something about the way the lights were on in the house when the dream narrator approached the vicinity, but then faded into darkness as the house turned out to be just a shell of its former self also made me think of a person. Maybe someone that was wide awake and then fell asleep... or someone that was alive once and no longer is. Coupled with the fact that the house also has a name the way many houses did back in the day, that effect definitely gives me the impression Manderley also has a personality, a mood, and a history the way a person would.

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This is one of My favorite Hitchcock movies.


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 is different in this movie because it's like a blast from the past, The New Mrs. Winters is telling her story of how she first got to Manderley. It's also more gothic.


 


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


POV is the one of Hitchcock signature move.


 


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 sets off the whole story line.

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The opening to REBECCA  differs a great deal from Hitchcock’s previous films, so much so that it is difficult to find the Hitchcock touch. Instead of a public place, we have a private residence. Instead of flashing lights and fast paced action, we feel like we are slowly going down a dark abandoned rabbit hole. The only thing that seems reminiscent of Hitchcock is the line where the second Mrs. Dewinter states that she could never go back. This tells us immediately that something major has happened here.  This is much like the early murder scenario in beginnings of THE LODGER and THE 39 STEPS. It is interesting though that this is said in dialogue in REBECCA rather than shown visually, Hitchcock’s preferred method of story telling. Also the first person POV shot is reminiscent of the opening scene in THE LADY VANISHES.

 

The decrepit mansion acts as a third character in that it is quite present and foreboding; it has a spirit. It keeps us out then drags us in. First we are locked out by the gate, then we are taken through a very dark, long and windy pathway. When we finally come to a stop, there is a petrified and clutching dark tree in the foreground telling us this place has it’s claws in us. 

 

As stated above, the affect of the story telling flashback gives us several clues upfront. First that something dire occurred in the house. The fact that the second Mrs. DeWinter is narrating, makes her the survivor. Once again, I see hints of film noir throughout, and I'm wondering if film noir would have even have existed if not for Hitchcock.

 
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