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Mrs Danvers — Rebecca (1940)

One of the characters, apart from the elusive image of Rebecca herself, that lingers long before the Rebecca book (1938) by the English author, Daphne du Maurier (1907–1989), is read or a movie adaptation based on it is watched, is Mrs Danvers — the housekeeper at Manderley estate. The power of this character is such that even though she is not the main heroine and plays a supporting role, in reality, she is one of the main story influencers.

The name of the housekeeper — ‘Danvers’ — is a referral to the port of Antwerp in Belgium, — d’Anvers. This is no accident, for Rebecca de Winter, the first wife of Maxim de Winter and the mistress of Manderley, used to love sea and sailing. Mrs Danvers, who raised her and then moved with her to Manderley, was her symbolic harbour. The one that Rebecca de Winter could always safely return to. The prefix ‘Mrs’ before the housekeeper’s name denotes that she was a married woman or at least was once, which is unusual for a housekeeper in service of a large estate. Normally, it was a job for life that took all the time and attention of the one who had it. …


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This piece is a continuation of the Part 1 — A Warm Welcome and Part 2 — A Respectful Scammer.

In any business that is based on clients the most important thing is to keep them satisfied and happy for they bring in the money by staying loyal. Especially so, in the letting-renting business where the customer is the one who pays the landlord’s bills, literally.

There is a saying: ‘The client is always right, even if he/she is wrong’. The statement is wise. For the clients might be wrong on certain occasions and not great all around, but if they are not happy, the business will eventually wither out. The notion that Henri-Louis Maunoir and the agency Bory Regie do not seem to comprehend. For they treat their clients like second-rate citizens who must pay regularly, stay loyal, be happy with whatever nonsense comes their way from the ‘top’, and then do not have even a say when their needs are not met. It seems that Henri-Louis Maunoir and the agency Bory Regie adopted a top-down attitude, which they have been rigorously practicing. Anything that comes from them should be respected and immediately executed, and everything that comes to them from their tenants e.g. …


Part 2 — A Respectful Scammer

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This piece is a continuation of the Part 1 — A Warm Welcome.

When in trouble inflicted by your landlord go to ASLOCA. It is a non-for-profit organisation that was established in 1942 in order to protect tenants’ rights and represent their interests. Back in 2017, when we appealed to this organisation with our dilemma, the whole of their website and all the information on it was in French. Rather inconvenient, considering that 40% of the residents in Geneva are foreign nationals working for international corporations and many do not speak French. …


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Between February 2014 and March 2020, we lived in Geneva, Switzerland. This was not the first foreign country that we had resided in. There was also London, Moscow, New York, Dubai, Helsinki. As usual with relocating, in each city we had to rent an accommodation that would become our home for a while. The accommodation ranged from apartments in converted period houses to ones in newly built high scrapers. With one thing in common — the landlords we had were very agreeable, respectful, easy to communicate to and deal with. That is until we came to Geneva.

At the time of our arrival the city rental market was booming, with majority of residents, the local ones included, renting. Especially when it came to expats. Although foreign to Geneva, we were not expats in a usual sense of it. We did not have a contract with a big firm or any firm at all for that matter. We moved as independent professionals on our own terms, thinking we could start a new chapter in our professional lives in Geneva and even make it our home one day. What we did not expect, however, that we would have the most horrible experience of our life with the accommodation we were about to rent. …


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Emily in Paris (2020) TV series

Emily in Paris TV series (2020) is not what you think it is. I doubt if the producer, Darren Star, is fully aware of what he has created either. For, at the first glance, he was making a movie about Paris and the French and the clichés and notions associated with the country and the people. But, in actual fact, while achieving the initial goal, he actually produced a by-product as well. The by-product that is more interesting than the product itself. …


Recent adaptation Rebecca (2020) of the same title by Daphne Du Maurier yet again has attempted to cope with a dubious image of Maxim de Winter — one of the main characters — an aristocrat whom the nameless heroine of the book and the narrator of the story falls in love with or rather, by binding herself with him, falls into a trap of self-deception and delusion.

The challenge of adapting the book by Daphne Du Maurier lies in the difficulty of portraying a man who is seemingly not lovable, admirable, or kind, yet has an obvious status, influence, money, and power. An epitome of a ‘true man’, so to speak, based on the traditional male paradigm. But the true man Maxim de Winter is not or, at least, he does not appear to be the one. And, this is exactly what film makers and screenwriters who attempt to adapt the book to screen are struggling with. …


Adaptations are difficult and it requires patience and knowledge to work out a scenario into good, logical continuity. — Photoplay magazine, 1917

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David Lean and the crew

I have recently come across a rather poor adaptation of one of the books by Agatha Christie — the movie The Sittaford Mystery (2006). If it was not for such poor retelling of the original story the movie could have been an interesting view on a murder mystery involving the other worldly energies. …


It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit. — Charles Condomine (Blithe Spirit play by Noel Coward)

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Ouija board

Ouija boards, popular at the end of 19th and beginning and mid of 20th century, were one of the means of communicating with spirits. The interest for this kind of communication arose out of people’s wish to learn more about life after death, be ‘reunited’ with their loved ones, and also find out answers to some questions that otherwise would be left unanswered. …


The world may or may not be without a purpose but it is not totally without some kind of magic.’aunt Vanessa, Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

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Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

Spirituality as it was understood in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century did not have anything to do with religion. When one talked about Spirituality one would refer to the communication with passed away relatives, friends, or loved ones during a séance.

Séance comes from French and denotes ‘session’. In English, the word séance was used to refer to a spiritual séance — a gathering of people who wished to communicate with spirits. The interest towards this kind of communication arose out of the disillusionment with the Church doctrines and religious dogmas. In the Victorian era of the technical and scientific progress (1834 -1914), religion no longer could offer credible explanations to the questions that bothered the minds of ordinary people. These inquisitive ‘ordinary people’ were not quite ordinary. They were scientists, doctors, writers, journalists, artists, upper and middle class women and men, as well as aristocracy, in other words intellectual and social elite, who had money and time to devote to the exploration of Spiritual realms. …


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Portrait of A Lady on Fire (2019)

Movies are like paintings and photographs that speak to the viewer with their lights and colours. There is no need for words when colours and colour vibrations can deliver message faster than any sound can. For light travels at the speed of 299 792 458 metres per second as opposed to the speed of sound — only 343 metres per sec. Thus, visual imagery, colours included, is always received and processed quicker than spoken words.

Contrary to the belief, black and white movies of the silent era were not void of colours. The colours of the depicted garments and settings were relayed on to the screen as tones. Those tones were picked up, decoded and translated by the audience into colours. …

About

Seraphima Bogomolova

Astro-cine journalist, author, and screenwriter

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