Rebecca is a psychological thriller about the events after the mysterious death of a woman named Rebecca. The tale revolves around the title character’s husband, Maxim, and his new wife. The characters of the story still seemed to be affected by Rebecca even after her death. The servants still adored her, Maxim still seemed to be hurt by her loss. As a psychological thriller, the visual design of the film helped in creating a suspenseful atmosphere all throughout the story. The setting and the acting of the characters all contributed in creating an eerie feel about the things that have and might happen. All and all, Alfred Hitchcock successfully constructed a visual tool in the film to keep the viewers hanging from their seats.
Even at the beginning of the film, the visual design somehow directs the viewers as to what to expect from it. With the view of the ruins of the country manor, it creates a feel that something relevant in the story happened here. Something big, something tragic happened that it lead to that view of the ruins. The sheer destruction that was shown was but a taste of what could be expected of the film as a whole. The story commences when a lively young woman falls in love with an aristocratic widower named Maximilian de Winter (Dirks, 2008). They got married, and went home to Maxim’s country manor.
The film casts several servants who resent the presence of the new bride. They are reluctant of accepting her as the new lady of the house. Their acting adds to the effect that something is unknown to the viewers. They are still so attached to Maxim’s previous wife, Rebecca, and that adds the thrilling effect to the story. The house is also spacious, yet it feels so empty for the viewers. With the house help reluctant to accept the new wife, it seemed that they are neglecting her inside the comforts of her own home. The house is well lit, yet it seemed dark, creating a gloomy feel for the viewers, indicating that there is more thrilling events to unfold.
Another event in the movie wherein the visual design and content invoked a thrilling and suspenseful atmosphere was during the costume party organized by Maxim’s new wife. At this point, the audience would be expecting something from the event, like a murder or a crime, as it would be impossibly hard to identify the culprit with their costumes on. However, there was no such happening at that time, only that the new wife donned a costume which was worn by Rebecca just a year ago. This has caused a commotion among several characters, especially Maxim, who was enraged and immediately ordered his wife to change her attire. The visual content of this film created a suspenseful atmosphere because the characters were all in their costumes, and for the average viewer, all of these hidden identities could lead into something eventful. Every shot of people in masks and costumes causes the anticipation for something thrilling, something that could stir the insides of a viewer. This mood was followed by a commotion, set just after the new wife changed her outfit. It seems that a ship drifting in the nearby sea has been found, containing the body of Rebecca.
The discovery of the ship and Rebecca’s body has been the culmination of all the visual images that contributed to the suspenseful feel of the film. Rebecca’s mysterious death had the shadow of murder, and this pointed out to her husband, Maxim. It also lead to the affair that Rebecca had with another man, which has deeply enraged Maxim, leading to an argument. Their argument leads to an accident, with the consequence of Rebecca’s death. The film is indeed a psychological thriller, and the visual designs and techniques employed in the production of the film all contributed to the suspenseful feel that left the viewers hanging from the edge of their seats.
Dirks, T. (2008). Rebecca (1940) Retrieved January 29, 2009, from http://www.filmsite.org/rebec.html