Netflix has gone ahead and done it again. They have brought to life yet another spectacular work of Daphne Du Maurier into a film named Rebecca. This movie draws inspiration from Maurier’s 1983 novel of the same name. The novel is popular even today, and the novel’s eerie atmosphere keeps the reader hooked from cover to cover. So, what are the other screen adaptations of Daphne Du Maurier that made it to the screens?
Alfred Hitchcock was as riveted to Daphne Du Maurier’s novels and made many of them into movies. Well, he made three Du Maurier adaptations. A few other creators, too, were instrumental in bringing this author’s works to life, and a few of them had numerous.
For instance, one of her books has two adaptations: A movie in 1984 and once as a BBC One show in 2014. The first version of Jamaica Inn hit the screens in 1984 featuring Charles Laughton. He plays an outrageous 19th-century Cornish fop who leads a life of luxury due to his profession as a ship-wrecker. He, along with his gang of wreckers, lure the unsuspecting voyagers into crashing against the rocks. Maureen O’Hara plays Mary Yellen, the heroine who discovers the truth behind her uncle’s shady shenanigans.
My Cousin Rachel
Roger Michell is the writer and director who adapts this Du Maurier’s 1951 novel. He recreates the moody setup of the book, replacing the rickety garden bridge with crumbling cliffs. Rachel Weisz plays the titular role, presenting complex emotions by her single glance. She keeps her viewer’s fixated with her ambiguous Anglo-Italian beauty who may murder the male narrator’s cousin, or may not. The film is picturized beautifully against the backdrop of the stunning Devon and Surrey landscapes.
Hitchcock’s classic adaptation of Maurier’s horrifying portrayal of how nature fights back is something you can watch in the film The Birds.
The book’s Cornwall setting is transferred to the beautiful Californian coastal town of Bodega Bay, with a disquieting effect as the birds take revenge on humans in all their fearful glory as they start pecking at farmers, teachers, and kids.
The immaculately dressed Tippi Hedren has her eyes and focus on the eligible bachelor Rod Taylor, but things go wrong as the dive-bombing gulls begin to attack her. She and her poised perfection are at the receiving end from birds hellbent on creating mad mayhem. Hitchcock creates a claustrophobic atmosphere, giving us as much of an impression of what is and what can be. Nature is as giving as it can be powerfully unforgiving. Hitchcock has the audience in his firm grip throughout the entire screen time.
Don’t Look Now
Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland come together to bring alive Daphne Du Maurier’s short story. The plot revolves around a married couple trying to escape grief and tragedy.
However, instead of finding peace, they are drawn into a sinister clairvoyant of dwarf sisters and serial murder in Venetian streets’ maze. Director Nicolas Roeg sets the tone for an atmospheric thriller. As you see the tourist-friendly always technicolor drenched streets of Venice in a new light, he creates a clingy atmosphere, from where there is no escape. The relationship between the two protagonists, the heart-wrenching haunting image of the girl in the red coat, and the shocking ending stay with you long after the end credits roll.
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” The haunting line sucks the viewer right into the narrative and sets for the ride of 130 minutes. Hitchcock’s first film gets it right, even to viewers who have not read the book, will take an instant unwitting attraction to the tale.
The mention of Manderly, from the beginning, almost creating it as one of the most important characters, builds up the anticipation, right from the time Violet sets her eyes on the imposing mansion to the last scene where it catches fire! Everything builds up the imagery high and higher but never drops us down.
Violet’s first appearance, discovering her husband’s obsession with his former wife, with the formidable Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) overwhelming her with her poise and clinical deviousness, gives us a taste of a true-blue gothic romance. While you do not see Rebecca on the screen, we could say that she is omnipresent in every frame. The Cornish setting adds to the allure of this timeless tale. The 2020 version is available on Netflix and gives us a fresh perspective, proving a passionate fable is universal and can never lose its charm.
Well, we have seen all the films, and we find each one of them distressingly addictive. Tell us which one of her screen adaptations do you find the most memorable? Please write to us in the comments section below.