Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – 5 Film Adaptations and 1 Audiobook

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier proved to be an enduring story. Published in 1938, it continued to be print and available for sale.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier proved to be an enduring story. Published in 1938, it is still in the market and had spawn so many film adaptations.

I was surfing Youtube when I happened upon the 1997 TV drama Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. It stars a young Emilia Fox.

The full-length version!?

Rebecca was a novel written by Daphne Du Maurier and published in 1938. It is a story about a young girl who married Maxim De Winter, a widower, and had to live in a huge mansion under the immense shadow of De Winter’s first wife. The story was narrated by the young girl and her name was never mentioned.

I remember trying to read this novel when I was a teenager. But, I couldn’t finish it. Therefore, I decided that I could at least watch a film adaptation. The 1997 adaptation wasn’t too bad.

I did a little digging around and discover that Rebecca has been adapted several times, the earliest being 1940 starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine.

Besides the 1940 movie, there were adaptations in 1962, 1979, 1997 and apparently, an Italian version in 2008. What makes this novel so interesting to filmmakers?

I suspect it is the twist at the end of the story. No, I am not going to spoil it for you.

Here’s a little list of all the adaptations as found on Youtube.

1. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – 1940

This movie version was produced in the US. As mentioned, it stars Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. It was Alfred Hitchcock’s first Hollywood film and it won the best picture award at the 1940 Oscars.

2. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – 1979

This is the playlist for the TV version by Britain. Stars Jeremy Brett (of Sherlock Holmes fame) and Joanna David. I first saw Joanna David in Pride and Prejudice as Mrs Gardiner, Elizabeth’s good friend. Emilia Fox, who played is her daughter.

3. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – 1997

A BBC production starring a very young Emilia Fox. Unfortunately, the video was taken down for copyright infringement.

Rebecca 1997
Rebecca 1997

4. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – 2008 (Italian Version)

This version looks interesting. Unfortunately, the Youtube clip that I can find is dubbed into Russian. Quite strange to watch Italians mouthing Russian.

5. Rebecca 2020

The newest remake stars the beautiful Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs Danvers.


I watched the 1940, 1979 and 1997 versions and couldn’t help making comparisons.

Interestingly, all three began with the same scene, which is also how the book began too. It testifies to Du Maurier’s writing prowess when filmmakers need not “adapt” too much.

Some have accused Daphne of plagiarism. But, I think that even if the plot is similar, the way she wrote and developed her characters is unique.

Now, I remember why I couldn’t finish the book!

I thought the young wife whine too much about living in the shadow of a perfect dead wife. Du Maurier did a terrific job of developing her. But as a teenager, I just couldn’t appreciate it.

It seems the filmmakers thought the same because the films reduced the protracted negative self-talk and self-doubting that the female protagonist engages in throughout the book.

Perhaps I might try reading Rebecca again or maybe I should listen to the audiobook.

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