Saturday, July 08, 2006

Mystery Solved!

Thanks to Kathleen for digging into her Hitchcock archives and finding out the reason for the change in the ending of the movie Rebecca. Here's what she found:

"Selznick's edit (to stay true to the book) contained provisos, since censorship forbade strict fidelity to du Maurier's story. Maxim shoots Rebecca, whereas in the film she has to die accidentally. The doctor's X-ray of her malformed uterus is omitted, along with Jack Favell's sick, worried query about whether cancer is contagious: he's afraid it might be a sexually transmitted disease. One primale, unfilmable scene in the novel Hitchcock left until later in his career. Olivier does not gun Rebecca down; ever the gentleman, he is not even sure that he hit her. Somehow she fell over, banged her head and killed herself. It was a hygienic solution, because it left no mess to be cleaned up. ... At the end, Hitchcock's Rebecca had to go further than du Maurier's novel. The novel concludes with a distant view of a false dawn as Manderley burns. Selznick, having torched Atlanta for Gone with the Wind, could hardly resist this smaller scale conflagration, and the scene enabled Hitchcock to compose a surreal poem in praise of decay and purgative fire. du Maurier's characters are all incorrigible, untidy, self-consuming smokers. ... The narrator burns the dedication page of a poetry book and watched it sift away: 'It was not ashes even, it was feathery dust.' When Rebecca is reburied, she recites the terminal mantra - 'Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust' - and imagines the crumbling corpse as 'dust. Only dust.' Yet the novel stops short of that ultimate scene, the incineration of Manderley. Hitchcock filmed it, with a last close-up of Rebecca's scorched bed, and made i a grandly operatic climax. It is his equivalent to the 'Liebestod' in the crypt that ends Bunuel's Abismos de Pasion, a version of Wuthering Heights with the added benefit of a Wagnerian soundtrack. Transfigured, Anderson (Mrs. Danvers) dances through the flames and dodges falling rafters like Brunhilde among the wreckage of the Gibichung hall as the funeral pyre flares in Wagner's Gotterdammerung. A simple case of arson becomes an immolation, cauterizing the polluted world."

My original thought when the movie first ended was that maybe moviegoers didn't want to see Olivier shooting his wife - I was pretty much dead on with that theory! I apprecaite your help with this, Kathleen!!

Hope you all have a great weekend!


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