Netflix to release Rebecca film set in the 1930s
I’m so excited for the upcoming Netflix remake of the classic film ‘Rebecca’ set in the 1930s.
Netflix will release a Working Title Films production of ‘Rebecca’ in Australia on Wednesday 21 October at 6pm.
The psychological thriller is based on the 1938 gothic novel by Daphne du Maurier. It’s a modern-day remake of the original Alfred Hitchcock film released 80 years ago in 1940, starring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier. I remember watching this as a kid (on the TV with a colourful intro from Bill Collins) and also reading the classic novel.
The 2020 version is directed by Ben Wheatley and stars Lily James as Mrs de Winter; Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter; and Kristin Scott Thomas as the ice-cold Mrs Danvers. You can watch the trailer below and read on for the inspiration behind the costume design.
Without any spoilers, the film’s official released notes and storyline go something like this:
“After a whirlwind romance in Monte Carlo with handsome widower Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), a newly married young woman (Lily James) arrives at Manderley, her new husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast. Naive and inexperienced, she begins to settle into the trappings of her new life, but finds herself battling the shadow of Maxim’s first wife, the elegant and urbane Rebecca, whose haunting legacy is kept alive by Manderley’s sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas). Directed by Ben Wheatley (High Rise, Free Fire) and produced by Working Title Films (Emma, Darkest Hour), REBECCA is a mesmerising and gorgeously rendered psychological thriller based on Daphne du Maurier’s beloved 1938 gothic novel.”
I cannot wait to see the costumes and lavish set designs in recreating Manderley and the fashions of the 1930s. The film’s costume designer, BAFTA-nominated Julian Day had just come off a period of working on two of Britain’s biggest biopics: Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman when he began talks with the director of Rebecca.
Julian Day took inspiration from a variety of sources and people as he set about dressing the cast, studying photographs of 1930s fashion and beachwear, and emulating historical figures such as Wallis Simpson, Marlene Dietrich, and Greta Garbo for Lily James’s character; and Errol Flynn, Anthony Eden, and Prince Edward for Armie Hammer’s character.
“The thing about clothes from that era is that they’re actually modern in their own respect. So many contemporary designers take inspiration from the 30s — you just have to look around. That era was, I think, the first period where modern clothing was born. So for me, modernising these looks is about how you style the clothes. If you keep the silhouettes, you make it look 30s, but you style it in a modern way. And of course, the way the actors wear them makes a difference,” he said.
The majority of the pieces that Lily James wears in Monte Carlo were vintage in order to affect a deliberately worn-in look that suited her character’s lower social standing, while still remaining chic.
For Mrs. Danvers’s signature look, Day chose to outfit Scott Thomas in a suit that was deliberately sharper, sexier, and ever so slightly inappropriate for her role as a housekeeper — the skirt a touch too tight, the heels a bit too high — as a way of intimidating and asserting her dominance over the new Mrs. de Winter upon her arrival at Manderley.
“I wanted to give Danvers a slightly dominatrix-like vibe,” says Day. “My initial idea was to present her like a bruise. She was the wound of Manderley and so all her colors are reflective of the colors of a bruise, aubergines, blues, ochres, all of those things, and how a bruise changes over time. She only has one suit in the whole film, but a number of blouses, all the same design, but different colours.”
Though Rebecca doesn’t make an appearance in the film, she’s often referenced in terms of what she wore: a pea green coat, a scarlet dress, and most notably, a black chiffon nightgown.
Says director Ben Wheatley: “There was an idea that Maxim’s golden suit at the start of the film made him look almost like a prize. At the beginning, he’s this great golden trophy that Lily’s character is getting a hold of, but then as she develops, she becomes that thing herself. She has her own golden suit that she wears in the end. So, you get these bookends of colour coding of the characters: As he diminishes, she rises.”
To recreate ‘Manderley’, the film’s production designer Sarah Greenwood skilfully amalgamated the best of eight different UK country houses and estates, including Cranborne Manor (Wiltshire), Hatfield House (Hertfordshire), Mapperton House (Dorset), Loseley House (Surrey), Petworth House (West Sussex), Hartland Quay (Devon), Blegberry Farm (Devon), and Osterley House (Isleworth).