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? 


This scene opens much more quietly than the other opening scenes we've seen.  It has an ethereal, lonely feeling, whereas the other movies have a very loud and boisterous, public beginning.  This seems very spooky and horrific as stated in the lecture video - a gothic horror genre.


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


Hitchcock uses his lighting techniques and dreamlike aspects as in other movies.  He uses the technique to make it feel as if you are walking forward as the narration guides you.


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?


As the narrator describes the house, it is fully fleshed out as a character so that you can place yourself at the home.  You know that they house will play a big role in the movie.  It is the place that something occurred.  


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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 far more conventional and starts like a lot of movies, with voice over and camera panning over a scene. There is no liveliness, and no people. Up to now, Hitchcock has used social (parties) or public settings (music halls, inns) at the beginnings. 

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

I actually did not see any.  Sorry. I have watched this many times and for some reason it did not strike me as Hitchcock and I hadn’t realized it was his. There is a “spooky” and “mysterious” feel to it at the beginning.  Later scenes with Mrs. Danvers feel more Hitchcockian. I think what it is about Rebecca is that I consider if a very “female point of view” movie, such that the men don’t seem all that important.  It’s a showdown between the unnamed second Mrs. DeWinter (who is such a cipher she doesn’t have a name) and Mrs. Danvers.  Why doesn’t Maxim just fire that old bag instead of letting her terrorize the house?  I think Hitchcock’s movies use women but have a male point of view, and this one doesn’t, which proves me somewhat wrong but I still don’t see much Hitchcock in this scene.

3.  How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What effect do the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene?  The key thing is the lighting.  I feel like Rebecca the great is hovering over the scene, that the shadows are her shadows, but I have seen this many times so it’s not a fresh perception.  The fact that we realize that the house is in ruins at the end should be a shock; why would she think well of a ruin? The fact she is recounting a dream adds to spookiness.  It just occurred to me how this film parallels Jane Eyre. Young, innocent, homeless girl marries rich man with a secretive first wife story, and the house burns down in the end.  Hummmm. 

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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 most obvious difference is the use of Narration to open the scene. Also, the opening does not contain people, but concentrates on first an iron gate, then a wooded path and finally a structure; a derelict mansion that looks both majestic and eerily haunting. A place that beckons us to it, yet fills us with some trepidation as we grow closer. Unlike other films by Hitchcock this sceneary is more than just local, it is a character in the story, a place of significance (even though we are not sure why?) But it is something to be focused on, as any other character in a movie is to be.

 

Finally as we move inside the structure, the scene goes black and we are transported to a flashback of the narrators story to a cliffside overlooking the sea and a man drawing ever closer to the edge, seemingly to end his life, when a shout from an approaching woman stops him. They argue and she moves on.

 

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

 

The "mood" of the opening scene given its life by Hitchcock; the sorrowful voice telling of the mansion that is coming into view as we travel the wooded path in an unsettling silence. The ominous shadow cast over the structure as we approach gives an air of concern as we grow closer. This gothic structure, which looks as though it had seen better days, is something the audience will be forced to investigate, as Hitch draws us ever closer to this imposing place. Then finally the use of the "black" entrance into the backstory  of the early events that begin this tale.

Then the scene changes to bright light and looking down from a high cliff to the noise of the sea crashing onto the shore far below. Then the legs and feet of a man who edges closer to the cliff, building up the viewers suspense, (will he jump?) Finally, the shout of a young woman who causes the man to stop his progress. We now see he is a well dressed man annoyed by the interference of this woman. We see that the woman is decidedly perplexed by his actions and his anger. The confusing that Hitch loves to instill in a scene to cause heightened  emotion and draw us in.

 

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? 

 

Certainly the "tone" of the opening scene suggests the Manderley is not only a structure but an entity of some prominence to the narrators story. She speaks of the mansion with some reverence and concern. It sets a mood for the audience to draw them into her story and gives them a emotional attachment to the surroundings to make them part of the story yet to unfold; we want to know more.

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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 the first opening without a crowed scene as an opening. its a first person point of view and the dialogue, the camera draws you in to the story. Is it a dream? or did it happen?

 

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

Well going to try to answer this question in another way that I just now noticed it almost opens up just like Welles's Citizen Kane which also draws you into the story just really without any dialogue and only music. 

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? 

As I said, it draws you into the story...what happened in this beautiful old dark house and what story does it tell? From the point of view and the dialogue. This is one of the first films were a house its self is a character in a Hitchcock film, the other house that played a big role was the house from Psycho. What story's does that house have to tell?

 
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1)  The most obvious difference is the single character narrating a quiet scene as opposed to loud public scenes that introduce multiple characters.  This opening is also very different in that the house is portrayed as a character that seemed to have a life of its own.

 

2)  The lighting is definitely reminiscent of Hitchcock's other films but what really struck me was the POV shot where you actually feel like you are walking through the gate and experiencing the dream with Rebecca.

 

3)  The house is very much shadowed at the beginning of the clip and you really can't tell that it is in ruins until the end shot before we cut to the cliff scene.  From the narrative and the transformation of the house to ruins as we near it, it is very clear that the house is a character that had its own experience in the film.  As I haven't watched the film yet, I'm looking forward to seeing how the house is transformed and how the characters fit in to this transformation.  Are they the cause of it?

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Clearly, this is a big shift from the fast-paced, fast-talking, chase-y films of the British period. We have a languorous, slow, misty opening, with a slow and thoughtful narration, a slow walk along an overgrown driveway, and a cloud slowly obscuring the reflective windows of Manderlay. This is more classic American, or perhaps just Hollywood, story-telling, and certainly novelistic in its approach to the entire story as one big flashback. I believe Hitchcock would have told this story much differently without the insistent pressure from Selznick to follow the novel as closely as possible. The opening sequence is also reminiscent of some of Val Lewton's works with Jacques Tourneur: eerie, misty, moody, wistful.

 

I'm also struck by the parallels between De Winter's Manderlay and Rochester's Thornfield Hall. These ornate but cold, wealthy gentleman's "castles" are both characters in their own right, full of mysterious rooms that help define the humans within. (Although one might be tempted to compare Manderlay to Selznick's previous Oscar-winning mansion, Tara, that one was really a working plantation, where its owner had hands dirtied by toil.)  And, in different ways, the two films are both examples of a bildungsroman genre.

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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? 


My first thought is that the opening focuses much more on the place than on the people. It is as if the house is the most important piece of the story. Another difference is the lack of music in the scene. I feel like in some of the other openings we've seen, music or crowd noise has been the primary introduction to the scene. However, in Rebecca, the music feels less important, with the voiceover taking control, until we leave Manderley.


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


One "touch" is the seemingly ordinary person being drawn into extraordinary circumstances. Joan Fontaine is a newlywed who, through coming to live at this house, has her life changed forever.


Another "touch" is the obvious experimentation. About a minute into the film, the image of the house goes blurry for a second as a feeling comes upon Fontaine. Through the use of this device and the voiceover, the audience can feel the same sensations as Fontaine as they approach Manderley. 


One thing, though I'm not sure it's a Hitchcock "touch" so much as a recurring item, is the use of the sea.  I feel as though as often as not I can rely on the sound and image of waves breaking against the shore and the image of a precipitous cliff.


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 opening sequence immediately intimates that Manderley is a character in the story by putting the entire focus on the house itself. While we can hear Joan Fontaine's voiceover, the camera is focused on the house, not Fontaine. Also, the way Fontaine describes the house is more in the vein of how one would remember an old friend or acquaintance, not a house. The way the voiceover and camerawork is done is extremely in the Gothic sense, in that nature, homes, etc. can be an expression of human passion and emotion, and so I feel the Gothic sense right away, which informs my viewing of the film (I have seen this one before).


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The opening sequence focuses on the house. The audience has been drawn into the movie. Manderley is the main character of the film.

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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? 

 

Instead of focusing on a person or people the focus is on a place. We are also seeing Manderley through a dream. We are seeing it the way the second Mrs. De Winter sees it. It may not be the way other people do. 

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

The scene is set up much like the films that we have seen prior. While the tracking is different we are still taken into the world of these characters in the first moments. 

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 notice from the start that Manderley is a place haunted by something. We don't know the type of story we are about to see but we do know that Manderley is one of if not the most important part of the story. As she talks and we see the winding of the road and the change that has come upon we realize the significance this place has had on the lives of all that has entered it. In the narration I wonder if this is a girl I want to be saved or if it is a girl that will be saved by the events that will come. We are given enough information by the direction and story but are allowed to figure things out a long the way. 

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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 people in the scene, it feels quite eerie, almost like Gothic horror film. Joan Fontaine's voice over is wistful and serene. It's unlike any Hitchcock film I seen so far.

 

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? By using the manor house and it's dark and eerie feel and the cloud's for a second look like the head of a woman. Olivier on the cliff , moving slightly towards the edge and his upset tone.m These seem like some of Hitchcock's touches.

 

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? By entering upon a decrepit mansion and the voiceover mention that the house had been beautiful and obviously something unsavory happened here.  As before, Fontaine's voice is wispy and dreamlike, as if the deterioration hasn't happened to the house.  

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The opening scene from Rebecca is in darkness and there are no people, but we hear Joan Fontaine narrating over the unsettling background shadow of "Manderlay."  Her voice is somehow quietly strained as she remembers the past and her time at that place/palace.  I don't remember any other opening without people or motion.  However, this opening is so creepy that you know it is a Hitchcock film.

 

Olivier then appears on the edge of the cliff as if he is ready to jump.  We hear Fontaine voice again filled with fear as she warns him to step back.  We hear concern rather strain; she fears he will jump or fall to his death.  Her concern takes Olivier aback and he dismisses her and walks away quickly.  

 

The shadowy darkened house becomes a character as soon as we hear Fontaine voice telling us when her memories take her back to "Manderlay."  The shadow of the house casts along with Fontaine's narration creates a shadow of its own and somehow we know something terrible happened there; something that changed her life forever.  

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1. There are more visual effects highlighting the eerieness of Manderley than in some of the earlier films. Instead of having various characters set up the theme in the setting, there are 2 characters: Manderely and the 2nd Mrs. deWinter.

2. Joan Fontaine is an ordinary character sucked into very extraordinary circumstances. She has to stand up for herself. Things unfold in a leisurely but creepy manner. Manderely certainly isn't an ordinary place but perhaps Manderely is the MacGuffin.

3. The opening, the voiceover narration & the flashback sequence sets up an unfolding sense of doom, foreboding, horror and overall creepiness.

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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? Unlike previous films, Hitchcock uses the voice of a narrator to immediately establish that the story will be told from her perspective.  The narration is accompanied by long, slow tracking shots (I would even say POV shots of the narrator (?) in a very dark, gothic/horror setting.  The opening music is much more subdued than in previous films -- what most audiences would associate with a feeling of foreboding.  This is also an early example of a tracking shot visually taking the audience through a gate or wall.  I also like the jarring cut from the dark, moody views of Manderly to the bright crashing of the ocean and low angle shot of Olivier.  Almost like Madeleine and Scotty and their rendezvous by the crashing Pacific in Vertigo.

2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? As mentioned above, the long tracking or POV shot that lingers outside the entrance of Manderly and moves through the gate.  Reminds me of the long pans and slow zoom through the hotel window in the opening of Psycho.

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? As the camera first lingers on Manderly, the narrator (Fontaine) gives a detailed account, or reflection, of the important 'role' the house played in her life.  Her reflection also helps support the visual with a detailed description of the structure of the house.  The scene indeed serves as a vocal flash-back to set the stage for the film.

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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? 

How this opening is different from the others we have seen so far is the narration. Hitchcock offers far more meaningful exposition here than in the scenes we have seen so far. Yes, it is metaphorical, but it is exposition. Once we get to the South of France, it becomes more like what we are used to.

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

The framing is still claustrophobic. When Manderley is revealed, we get a full image, but that is quickly cropped. We don't see everything. The ocean side in France should provide us this massive vista, but the rocks and the cliff dominate the frame.

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 shots and the narration describe how Manderley has decayed over time and fallen into disrepair. As a character, Manderley's decay may be linked with the revealing of de Winter's plot.

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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 most obvious difference is that all the openings in Daily Doses have happened in crowded places, whereas the opening of Rebecca happens in a far-away property. It also has a voice-over narration, something new.

 

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

Although it’s not one of the elements of the “touch” described by Phillips, I see that we share the point of view with the second Mrs. De Winter.

What I see that was described by Phillips is the ordinary lead, here played by Joan Fontaine.

But, overall, Rebecca is more a Selznick picture than a Hitchcock one.

 

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 voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? 

A house says a lot about the people who live in it. The word “symmetry” was a key to me: a symbol of order and sobriety. I also think that the moon casting a light and then a shadow helps give the house a “feeling”. Manderley is as sinister as a haunted house.

On the other hand, by those few initial minutes, we can sense that Maxim is a disturbed, haunted character, and the second Mrs. De Winter is a naïve and nervous one – she is insecure and awkward.

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1) The opening scene is quite different from the ones we've seen in the past mainly because it focuses on a place and not characters.His movies usually open with large crowds in public places. "Rebecca" is filmed in a much more sophisticated manner and it's the first time we hear a voice narrating a story about the past. it's smoky ethereal appearance is a taste of noir.

 

2)The Hitchcock "touch" I noticed was the camera work. the viewer has the POV of the narrator's dreamlike shadowy walk toward a mansion with hints of past secrets even though she points out that it's "a desolate shell without a whisper of it's past". perhaps a touch of "things are not what they appear to be"?????

 

3) Manderlay is a character, it has a name, an identity and a story.I was transported to it's gothic location by the narrator's haunting voice flowing like a  mysterious dream. She tells us that Manderlay is "secretive and silent as it always has been" thereby intriguing the viewer to find out what happened there, what was kept silent????? Why is it abandoned now?? Great stuff. No wonder it won Best Movie Oscar!!!

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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 opens on a scene dark and private. It's not a public place with a large cast of characters. As we travel the driveway we can see the disrepair. Then the house looms large and seems to have a life of its own. Something bad has happened with it affecting the narrator years later. It felt like an older lady looking back on her life with regrets.

 

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

 

Dark and moody with a possible tragedy of Sir Laurence plummeting to his death.

 

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 feels like the house is alive. That whatever happened in this place is bad and dark. Such a beautiful place marred with bad. It seems as if a lady is looking back on her past and remembering.

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Rebecca opens its gothic romance with the dreamy narration about Manderley.  By introducing the current state of Manderley, burned and deserted, reclaimed by nature, the scene sets up a mystery that will be solved over the course of the film.  The viewers know how Manderley ended up, and the film will explain how it got there.  This is a cool way to set up the gothic tale, so viewers watching the romantic scenes between Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier will know, in the back of their minds, that some tragedy lies ahead.

This opening narration could have been accompanied by still shots of burned-out ruins, but Hitchcock creates a vivid, cinematic scene by taking the viewer on a trip down the winding driveway and up to the mansion using elaborate miniatures, evocative lighting, and a traveling subjective camera.

 

The viewer floats through the property like a ghost, even floating through the main gate (in a cool scene that reminds me of a similar camera move in Fritz Lang's M, where two pieces of the set are slid apart at the last moment to allow the camera to seemingly move through a narrow space).  Hitchcock brings the viewer right inside the set.

 

Once Manderley is in view, Hitchcock superimposes an image of the house in its previous splendor, with the lights on, giving the viewer a sense of the before/after (another cinematic trick Hitchcock uses to help bring the scene to life on the screen).

An opening narration scene like that could have been handled in a much more boring way, but Hitchcock keeps it visually engaging.

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I'm also struck by the parallels between De Winter's Manderlay and Rochester's Thornfield Hall. These ornate but cold, wealthy gentleman's "castles" are both characters in their own right, full of mysterious rooms that help define the humans within. (Although one might be tempted to compare Manderlay to Selznick's previous Oscar-winning mansion, Tara, that one was really a working plantation, where its owner had hands dirtied by toil.)  And, in different ways, the two films are both examples of a bildungsroman genre.

 

Lots of parallels between "Rebecca" and "Jane Eyre" (the 1943 version) besides the great flame-scorched mansions!  Both are based on classic gothic novels.  Both movies starred Joan Fontaine.  And both movies were scored by Bernard Hermann. 

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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 is very different in that there isn't any real action going on. There aren't characters. There is a voiceover, but nothing that the narrator tells us matches with the shots on the screen. There isn't any particular attention paid to an object or item (until the end of course). 

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

The use of the camera, the dark shadows and fog all seemed very Hitchcockian to 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? 

The camerawork allows us to see the POV of the character and make us, in a way, the character of the narrator. 

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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 the opening for Rebecca, instead of using graphics or signage for exposition, we are immediately introduced to the character of the estate through narrative.  While, as explained in the notes, this is probably due Selznick's demand to remain faithful to the novel, it is a difference that Hitchcock accommodates through realism.  The camera has more movement and the exploration of the space between the gate and the house.  Hitchcock has always used lighting but there is more use of lighting that creates more texture and emphasizes the dilapidated building.  There are no people, so the sense is loneliness, our loneliness or the narrator's loneliness.

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

The location of the cliff and the lone figure is reminiscent of some the scenes from The 39 steps.  The character approaches the edge of the cliff only showing his feet.  We know from the juxtaposition of his feet and edge inches away he would have fell if she hadn't intervened.  We are introduced to information the other character isn't fully aware of.

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? 

Because the remarks of the narrative we know that this was once a beautiful estate.  But now it is in bad shape.  It has evolved.  The estate itself will have it's own story arc in conjunction with the characters.

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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 more slow and quiet compared to the usual more action or allude to something that has already happened.

 

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

 

The almost false look that things might not be as they appear.   We start to see the house and it looks big and beautiful then when you get closer, you see that its not what you thought at all.

 

 

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 slowly comes to light and then you see that it is in ruins.  It sets us up to know that something happens in the house and that the house must play an important part in the film.  The voice over is calm and in a way gently informing is that something is coming.

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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 is different because it's not full of gaiety and music and crowds like the openings from the British films. It's got a very somber and lonely feeling to it.

 

 

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 flashback structure and the voiceover narration draw me into the film and entice me to watch the film to see what happened to the narrator and Manderley. It's the kind of opening that draws you in and makes you want to get comfy on the couch with a warm cup of tea while you watch the film.

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Sorry, I already typed my whole response out last night but managed to lose it, so I am abbreviating the questions, etc. as much as possible here.

 

1. How this opening differs from other openings of British silent or sound period?  Several of the other films start with crowd scenes, many people moving about or enjoying a show or crowding around after a crime has been committed, or such.  This one begins with a scene of an old, seemingly destroyed or run-down house, as it appears in a woman's dream, the same woman who is narrating at that point.  Quite different from the other openings.

 

2.  Hitchcock "touches" - There is the POV shot of moving down along the driveway until the house comes into view; we have the use of light & darkness to add to the mystery of this house and what has transpired there.  The music, which is rather quiet and in-the-background at the first part comes more to the fore when the scene switches to Mr. DeWinter standing upon the precipice, the raging waters below.  The music becomes rather sinister, foreboding. 

 

3.  How does the sequence use Manderley itself as a kind of character in the story? The whole 1st segment is a woman talking about the house, it being in her dreams, it having clearly been something of a focal point in their lives in the past.  It makes us want to know more & what was its significance. 

What affect does flashback structure & voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? The flashback structure brings us right in to the story; it intrigues us & makes us want to know what is the big deal with the house, this big beautiful mansion, what happened & why can they never go back there again? 

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In this opening of Rebecca we get another Hitchcock POV shot.  What makes that even more interesting to me is the way he layers lighting and sound to create movement and emotional shifts.  As the narrator moves down the path, the shadows crawl across the ground in front of her, and in the same direction she travels.  So it’s like they accompany her.  They don’t necessarily seem ominous, though that’s a possibility.  But to me they provide mystery and motion.  And this makes an extended narration not seem static, which is always the danger.  To also break up the scene Hitchcock gives us, at one curve in the path, an almost complete white-out of fog, as if we’re transitioning to another location, but as that fog dissipates, we’re just around another corner.

 

The music in this scene adds so much.  First, as she moves in a dream-like state, we get, of course, a harp sound, which is often used for dreams and altered state scenes.  But along with that is a double reed (English horn or oboe in its lower range).  This instrument is often associated with pastoral scenes, and this makes perfect sense to characterize this dreamy location as deeply rural.  The music tends toward the more mysterious minor mode.  And the music’s leisurely pace matches her slow walk and her dreamy approach.

 

But as Manderley comes into view, the music changes (though not jarringly).  This shift gives us a further sense of movement as we and the narrator approach the house.  First, the music moves more toward the major mode, brightening the scene subtly.  But even more significant, I think, is the introduction of a violin.  This instrument, often used for feminine characters and romance, has the effect also of humanizing the scene (the violin is the instrument that sounds most like the human voice).  So when Waxman, the composer, writes for solo violin just as we see Manderley, it sort of warms the atmosphere.  And this happens as the narrator begins to imagine lights in the window, another kind of human warmth.

 

Of course, the light fades and Hitchcock takes us into the darkened house through a window and onto the turmoil of the sea which is to become so important in the film.  But the narrator’s opening is a masterful moment, and I think shows Hitchcock’s effective collaboration with the folks who do scene design, lighting, and music.

Thank you for helping me understand the specifics of how the scoring is supporting the scene.

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