November

It’s dark.

This post is mostly me waxing lyrical about various pieces of media. Spoilers abound. Um. Enjoy?

  • I read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier for the first time. Magnificent. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Can’t believe it was pegged as a romance all this time. The heroine might be madly, stupidly in love with Maxim, but I wouldn’t call it a romance by any but the most vague criteria.
    After finishing the book, I watched the 1940 Hitchcock film with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier, and the 2020 Wheatley version with Lily James and Armie Hammer. They’re interesting to watch and compare. Both did very well, adaptation-wise. Both also tweaked things to appeal to the audience of the time. My notes are:
    • Fontaine and James both did a lovely job of portraying the heroine’s youth and naivete, perfectly switching on her experience and loss of innocence when required. James was rather more modern, in that she deliberately made a choice to stand by Maxim; Fontaine stayed more true to du Maurier’s version in being so subsumed by him that the choice wasn’t exactly a choice.
    • Olivier is the standout Maxim of the two depictions. I love me some Hammer, don’t get me wrong, and he was definitely a desirable male lead, complementing James’ heroine’s decision to stand by him for chemistry/love, but he didn’t have that cold aloofness which is so central to the character. Both men played Maxim as someone who was wrapped up in his demons yet who genuinely loved the heroine – I suppose any depiction as uncertain or manipulative as the book wouldn’t be a crowd-pleaser.
    • Wheatley’s version included the grandmother scene and sister-in-law comforting our heroine after the costume mishap, as well as the full ball. I enjoyed those parts, and was glad to see them there. Hitchcock didn’t show those, which didn’t subtract from the essence of the story but did miss out on some of the key female relationships.
    • The Wheatley film was more dramatic than Hitchcock’s version and the book itself. Examples: Hammer having James point the gun at him, the actual drama in the courthouse, James running in to check the doctor’s file before the police did and being discovered anyway, Hammer and James desperately falling over each other. The tension after the boat is discovered is understated in the book and in Hitchcock’s film and both of those are better for not giving into the temptation of drama. Releasing it kind of, I don’t know, cheapened the thrill? Audiences will understand what’s at stake, there’s no need to show people desperately running around looking for files and pointing guns at each other.
    • I’d add that putting the sexual desires of the main characters, Rebecca included, out in the open was helpful in the Wheatley version. You have to read between the lines to get the same understanding from the book and the Hitchcock version – that’s not a criticism, that’s a generational and cultural difference. Wheatley’s version lays everything out there – but doing so does detract from the variety of interpretation available to the book.
    • Danvers is solidly the villain, but is most sympathetic in Wheatley’s film. The films depict her death, probably for the audience benefit of seeing her get a comeuppance, but the book leaves her departure and the implication that she started the fire as much more open-ended, which I prefer. Kristin Scott-Thomas takes the lead for me on Danvers: cold, restrained, grieving, outraged, classist, controlling, fantastic.
    • I’m in two minds about Danvers’ little speech about Rebecca and her ability to enjoy herself in the Wheatley film. Like the excessive drama, it lays an aspect of the story bare without room for further interpretation. Telling, rather than showing. I liked coming to the same conclusion when reading the book, but du Maurier didn’t hold my hand to do it, which makes me appreciate the book more. Having Scott-Thomas spit it out at Hammer and James, without any real reaction from them consistent with the times, lessens that aspect of the story. That said, Danvers is the mouthpiece of Rebecca, and in saying her piece, gives Rebecca’s side of the story in a way that’s clear.
    • Enjoyed the book and both movies. Thoroughly recommend! Completely! What a joy to get lost in Rebecca for an afternoon.
  • Playing Among Us. Obsessed.
  • So. Supernatural ended.
  • I lagged behind on season 15 hardcore, I was waiting for the season to be finished before bingeing it all. Then Tumblr spoilered me.
    I follow accounts that only acknowledge SPN from a cultural POV, not a fandom POV. That’s deliberate, as there’s only so much d-horse I can take (read: none) about anything, let alone about Destiel. Genuinely didn’t know how to handle episode 18. Part of me was annoyed, another part was really hopeful.
    • The annoyance: I went into SPN thinking Destiel was mass-induced hubris, then was really solidly swayed. You can read it as a close, almost brotherly friendship, and you can ALSO read it as romantic. It does fit, there’s enough there.
      However, SPN is about killing evil esoterica and saving the world, you know? The romantic parts aren’t the focus, and it was meant to end after season 5, so I’m also 100% certain the creators never intended for Dean to be anything but straight. Therefore any Destielesque development has to be due to fandom influence. And, well, why not, given everything season 6 onwards was beyond the original scope, but there’s something I dislike about the creative vision of a story being so heavily influenced by its fanbase. Authory bias, idk. My stance is that the show did enough to keep the fans, but follow-through wasn’t ever going to be a thing, so why bother.
    • The hope: I really wanted Destiel to be a thing. GDI, the show has kept the characters close for so long. It wasn’t built up well enough to be totally believable to me, but it could have been and I did want it.
    • The finale: I mean. Well. It’s an ending. Episode 19 felt like the ending and episode 20 is like an extension of it. It didn’t wrap up a few loose ends started in the season, and I get the impression they dropped something relating to Cas – I don’t have any real basis for that opinion save that the episode was incredibly abrupt in how it treated the brothers and their endings. The montage of Sam in particular felt very edited – who was his wife? Why did he get a montage, but Dean didn’t? Dean died in a frankly absurd way, considering the past fifteen years. Apparently Cas was rescued from the Empty thanks to Jack, but we don’t see either of them. A lot about the episode felt rushed.
      I listened to Carry On Wayward Son afterwards, and decided that this season finale isn’t really worthy of the show. The talent involved is immense, and they could’ve done so much better than this abrupt wrap-up. I don’t know where the problems happened, but for a show that’s this epic, in runtime, scope and talent, this ending doesn’t do it justice.
  • That being said: 15 years! 15 freaking years. I’m going to miss it.