Rebecca The Criterion Collection
Criterion Collection, Special Edition
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Romance becomes psychodrama in Alfred Hitchcock s elegantly crafted Rebecca, his first foray into Hollywood filmmaking. A dreamlike adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel, the film stars the enchanting Joan Fontaine as a young woman who believes she has found her heart's desire when she marries the dashing aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter (played with cunning vulnerability by Laurence Olivier). But upon moving to Manderley her groom s baroque ancestral mansion she soon learns that his deceased wife haunts not only the home but the temperamental, brooding Maxim as well. The start of Hitchcock's legendary collaboration with producer David O. Selznick, this elegiac gothic vision, captured in stunning black and white by George Barnes, took home the Academy Awards for best picture and best cinematography.
TWO-BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- Audio commentary from 1990 featuring film scholar Leonard J. Leff
- Isolated music and effects track
- New conversation between film critic and author Molly Haskell and scholar Patricia White
- New interview with special effects historian Craig Barron on the visual effects in Rebecca
- Documentary from 2007 on the making of Rebecca
- Screen, hair, makeup, and costume tests including actors Joan Fontaine, Anne Baxter,
Vivien Leigh, Margaret Sullavan, and Loretta Young
- Casting gallery annotated by director Alfred Hitchcock and producer David O. Selznick
- Television interviews with Hitchcock and Fontaine from 1973 and 1980
- Audio interviews from 1986 with actor Judith Anderson and Fontaine
- Three radio adaptations of Rebecca, from 1938, 1941, and 1950, including Orson Welles s version for the Mercury Theatre
- Theatrical rerelease trailer
- PLUS: An essay by critic and Selznick biographer David Thomson and selected production correspondence, including letters between Hitchcock and Selznick
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Criterion, of course, not only provides superior restoration, they also include tons of supplemental material. This newer edition has a few items that the previous DVD did not, including a "Tomorrow" (Tom Synder) interview with Joan Fontaine and a conversation between film critic Molly Haskell and scholar Patricia White about the feminist aspects of the film and a 2007 "making of" documentary. Also new on this disc is a very interesting French documentary on Daphne du Maurier. Other extras are commentary by film scholar Leonard Leff, interview with Craig Barron on the film's visual effects, hair, screen and makeup tests, and screen tests of Anne Baxter, Joan Fontaine, Vivien Leigh and Margaret Sullavan and telephone interviews with Fontaine and Judith Anderson.
An exceptional treatment for an exceptional film!
I can't praise highly enough Criterion's dedication to releasing great world cinema. Their restorations are second to none!
Daphne du Maurier's story is an intricate tale of romance and love lost like an even sadder version of Jane Eyre. Hitchcock takes the pace evenly to keep you guessing in suspense at all times. The themes of love, unhappiness, dejection, despair, kindness, and forgiveness are all at the heart of Rebecca.
Hitchcock sets up Rebecca more as a mystery as to who this Rebecca is or was in earnest. You hear her name echoed at all times, but never get to hear the main character's name as anything other than Mrs. de Winter. It's a fascinating narrative with the unique storytelling device of other character's hearsay is all you learn about Rebecca. The finale is quite shocking as everything unfolds in style. Hitchcock's style is already present in this early movie of his. I think he got better as a director, but Rebecca is easily of his finest films.
Joan Fontaine is absolutely precious as Mrs. de Winter. She endears herself to you as you just want her to be happy as everyone is so cruel to her. Sir Laurence Olivier is intense as the mean Mr. Maxim de Winter. He is more somber and sullen than his usual roles, but Olivier kills it as a dour widower ordering around his new bride. He is so shrill and rages often with a surprising duplicity. I like Olivier for this role quite a bit. Lastly, I must mention Judith Anderson's excellent performance as the cruel head maid Mrs. Danvers. Her cold and backhanded comments are a joy to witness.
Overall, Rebecca is not an exciting thriller like many of Hitchcock's later films, but it is a beautiful drama filled with curious clues and odd mysteries. I would give it a chance if you can find a copy.
I'm changing my review from one star to 5 b/c there ARE subtitles that are accessible by using certain buttons on your remote. In my case, it was the "info/display" button (something I've never used before b/c I never had to). Here is the nice reply I got from Mr. Mulvaney of the Criterion Collection:
"Thanks for writing. All foreign-language Criterion Collection features and supplements have optional English subtitles within the main disc menu, and almost all English-language features have SDH (subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing). This includes REBECCA. The SDH subtitles can be turned on and off while viewing the film by pressing the "subtitle" button on your player's remote control. If your remote doesn’t have a “subtitle” button the SDH is accessible in other ways. Is there a button on your remote that says something like "audio", “display”, or "subs"? If not, there's likely to be a menu button that would eventually lead you to the subtitle option within it's menu choices.
Here is a list of Criterion discs that do NOT feature English subtitles or SDH:
Fishing with John