PRODUCTION | REBECCA
“I was keen to have a gaffer with a lot of experience,” he explains, “so I worked with Julian White [who was gaffer on The Martian ] for the first time in many years. It was a real joy to glean his experience and combine that with my approach.” THE SUN AND MOON Delving deeper into the film’s visual language, Rose describes how light evolved alongside the developing story. “Ben Wheatley, the director, talked about a three-act structure, with the summer holiday romance serving as the first. These early scenes were the only time I used filters significantly. There was lots of light and it was very saturated to create a very optimistic atmosphere,” he explains. Aside from the hotel lobby, all the French interiors were shot in the UK. “We used lots of big tungsten. I had a number of 20Ks set quite low, which I used from a high angle – so rather than coming directly in, the light would hit the floor and bounce up to emulate the look of high sun. “Even in the lobby, we enhanced the natural light with two 18K Arrimax HMIs fixed on a truss just outside,” Rose elaborates further. “We expected to come back to the UK and that bleak grey and green would show a real change in tone, fitting for their return to this gothic manor,” he continues. “However, the summer of 2019, when we shot, couldn’t have been more beautiful. We fought that a lot and did introduce some rain, but more sun sneaked through than we initially planned.” The final act almost becomes a noir, as Mrs de Winter becomes more empowered and embarks on a detective story of sorts. Again, that marks some visual changes, particularly within the camera work. The interior of Manderley is the location for much of the film’s action
Huge in scale and rich in visual splendour, we talk to DOP Laurie Rose about bringing Rebecca to the big screen once again
WORDS LEE RENWI CK / P I CTURES NETFL I X AND JUL I AN WH I TE
N etflix hit Rebecca has been the subject of much discussion since its release, certainly as a result of its source material and previous adaptation, but also for its aesthetic magnificence. The former is unavoidable, many would say, particularly given the fame of Daphne du Maurier’s book and Hitchcock’s 1940 version. The latter is the result of lots of excellent work, courtesy of Laurie Rose, when it came to lighting. Elsewhere, the costumes are as beautiful as those from the best period dramas, production design is done with the greatest of care and the film’s final look is a perfect fit. Were it created as an original in 2020, there’s little question the film would have been much more highly lauded. “From the outset, it was a readaptation of the book, not a remake of the film,” Rose says. “I didn’t want to try to compare to Hitchcock’s version, so for us, the gothic quality of the source material and period, the production design and the locations all fed into the visual language and shaped our approach much more.” The 1940s film was made in the era of the Hays Code (a set of rules within Hollywood that regulated moral content). “There are dark aspects to Rebecca that they just couldn’t broach on screen. But the book, as with all of du Maurier’s work, is actually vibrantly modern,” Rose explains. “We played to that and the first RIGHT Mrs de Winter tentatively reaches for her sleepwalking husband in one of the film’s blue, dreamlike sequences, lit day-for-night using Gemini 2x1 LED panels from Litepanels
script was very much a psychodrama,” he continues. “The film takes lots of dark twists and, thematically too, there are elements, like the notion of gaslighting, as Mrs de Winter goes on a real journey of self-discovery.” Rose is no stranger to period dramas, having captured, among others, much of Peaky Blinders Season 3, set just a decade earlier than Rebecca , although none of them have been on quite such a large scale. He felt a certain element of expectation pre-production, particularly due to the incredible legacy of Working Title, responsible for period features, such as Emma , Darkest Hour and The Danish Girl . “Still, it was exciting to take things further and fit into that canon,” Rose remarks.
10 DEF I N I T ION | FEBRUARY 202 1
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