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Horror > Rosemary's Baby (Roman Polanski)

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message 1: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments One of the great horror films that relies on suspense and drama...not crude violence. It has been many years since I saw this so watched it this weekend; hope you like my review:) Interesting note, The Stones released Beggar's Banquet which introduced us to the baby's father the very same year 1968! Coincidence?


ROSMARY'S BABY (Roman Polanski, 1968, USA) Rosemary births a malignant tumor and is dominated by a Coven who have stolen her body for their own diabolical purpose and planted an inhuman seed, which will only bear poisoned fruit. A soothing child’s lullaby underscores the opening shot across the rooftops of New York City until it settles upon Rosemary and Guy, as they decide to rent an apartment in the archaic Bramford. Director Roman Polanski is careful to feed us the ungodliness in slow bites and not gorge us with cliché: most of the film plays like a failing marriage, as Guy concentrates more on his career than his pregnant wife. In this cold emotional territory Rosemary seems lost, isolated from friends and family by an egocentric husband and creepily adoring neighbors. Soon, she can’t differentiate dream from reality, questioning her own judgment, relying on the “kindness” of intrusive strangers. The drug-induced visual sequences are eerily surreal as Rosemary’s perceptions trip the light fantastic, dancing upon madness and hellishness as she is violently penetrated. This is a film of modern paranoia, reflecting our lovely perfect lives into a dark mirror, not quite what it seems, fearing the monsters that lurk in the abyss of our primal wombs…or next door. Polanski has made an unbelievable premise plausible and therein lays the true horror. A perverse ironic humor dominates the film as the daemon is conceived during the Pope’s visit to New York and its expungement on that holiest of Christian holidays, representing their own dead savior’s virgin birth. As Rosemary tries to escape her fate, the whole world seems involved in the conspiracy to take her baby, to seek its destruction, to disappear into the fiery maelstrom. When she finally discovers the dreadful truth, her gentle lullaby rocks the crying daemon to sleep, a mother’s nourishment for our world’s new successor. (A)


message 2: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5315 comments Sorry, Alex, not clear on something, the expungement on the holiest of Christian holidays. Can you clarify, I'm not sure what you mean.


message 3: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Satan's son is born on Christmas day:) At least, it's implied though I've never read the novel.


message 4: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5315 comments Sorry, but he's not born on Christmas Day. It's summertime, look at the clothes they're wearing, it is warm outside. I think it is actually sometime in June, maybe even June 6, as in June 6, 1966.


message 5: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Jan 20, 2009 12:35PM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Didn't she have her breakdown and go into labor at Christmas time? I remember the scene when she escapes to the doctor (Charles Grodin) and it's winter with a Santa ringing the bell. I thought she gave birth shortly after being taken back to the apartment. And I liked that there were no Christmas decorations anywhere in the building...like the entire complex was part of the demonic conspiracy.



message 6: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5315 comments Unless I'm way way off (always a possibility), the Santa appears earlier in the movie and in her pregnancy, I seem to remember him being visible during the scene when she's going to meet Hutch and he doesn't show up. I really remember that the scenes in Dr. Hill's office and the labor etc. all take place during summer, or at least during warm weather. Anyone got the DVD handy to make sure?


message 7: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Jan 20, 2009 12:52PM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments I rented from Netflix and returned already. I definately could be wrong and it just stuck in my mind about the holiday. I remember her being in the phone booth trying to call Dr. Hill (shortly before seeing him) and the people lingering outside were wearing coats. I really like the idea of June 6!

The WIKI entry doesn't help much except it states that she goes into labor immediately after being brought home from Hill's office.


message 8: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5315 comments I searched online, and found the original script, which gives a clear chronology complete with dates! The birth happens, at least in the script I found, on June 25, 1966, which gives both grim jokes: June 1966 (6/66, get it?) and is half the year round from Christmas.

Of course that's just some version of the script which was posted online, but it jibes pretty well with my memory of general paranoiac awfulness in the film: on top of everything else, Rosemary's stuck in NYC in the summer.


message 9: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Yeah, I just remembered the New Years Eve party where she eats the raw liver and pukes, so around June makes sense. But the ending shot of the rooftops shows smoke coming from chimneys...like cold weather and I'm sure the people outside had coats on. Maybe a continuity error while editing? But I agree with you, June 1966 was intended.


message 10: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5315 comments Anyway, no doubt that ROSEMARY'S BABY is a terrific movie, for my money Polanski's best. And the acting is really terrific. If you get a chance to see it on a big screen, grab it, and marvel at Ruth Gordon's outlandish performance while pitying those poor souls who had to share the screen with her, knowing full well that no mere mortal could upstage her.


message 11: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10505 comments a fantatsic film. the opening scene where the aerial camera is floating over the apartment buildings (the dakota, right? - isn't that where lennon was shot?...) creates a great eerie feeling, not unlike the opening of the shining.

so many great things to say about the film - but alex has summed it beautifully. i remember seeing various edited versions on tv when i was younger (i seem to remember it was rated x when it first came out, and then i think the released an edited version that played in more theaters) and when i finally saw the complete cut, i was a bit older, but the shock didn't subside until long after the film wrapped.

i don't know that i would hail it as polanski's best - not that it matters. i think knife in the water and the pianist are also extraordinary films. but one of the finest "horror" films to come out of the 60's, which paved the way for the great wave of horror that came with the 70's.


message 12: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Thanks guys, Ruth Gordon just tore up the screen and was funny while being creepy...a great performance! I would recommend THE TENANT as another great horror film and also has comparisons to Kubrick's THE SHINING in tone. Ya' know, I've never seen KNIFE IN THE WATER or REPULSION...must fix that ASAP!


message 13: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10505 comments I just watched the tenant again. it had been years. it's a great one...a lot like reading kafka - a subject surrounded by off-kilter behaviour, paranoia, suspicion and sexual arousal. what's not to like?

yeah alex, check in on knife in the water. and repulsion! you might just end up reviewing that one for the (good) horror group.


message 14: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tracy_falbe) | 21 comments Nice review, Alex. I think the movie is good and I found the book to be riveting. Back in high school, for the Forensics team I used to do the scene when Rosemary sees her devil baby for the first time for dramatic interpretation competition. The judges always looked horrified. In retrospect, I realize if I wanted to win a trophy I should have chosen less sacreligiious material. Oh, well, story of my life...

Thanks for reminding people of this creepy classic.


message 15: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments There are more important things than winning trophies! I would love to have seen their faces, awesome:)
I bumped KNIFE to the top of my queue with Robert Wise's CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE. Next I'll have a Val Lewton marathon while my Friday nights are still reserved for Visconti. I'm glad I married a women who doesn't like to go out much! Just coffee and films at home in the evenings. Life is good.


message 16: by Jim (last edited Jan 22, 2009 06:12AM) (new)

Jim Cherry (jymwrite) Has anyone noticed that these movies about something satanic in society from the early 70's usually revolve around there's something wrong with the children. Could the youth movements of the late 60's have inspired this type of film.


message 17: by Phillip (last edited Jan 22, 2009 08:16AM) (new)

Phillip | 10505 comments there was a lot of demonic activity going on in films those days, jim (still is). it's possible the youth movement had something to do with pushing that theme. i'm a little rusty with my history - did rosemary's baby come after the tate-la bianca murders? he must have been working on it before they happened. i think sharon tate was murdered in '68 or '69. there might be an answer to your question there....

but i think filmmakers have always been interested in exploring the occult on film. one of melies' earliest efforts was devil in a convent (that was somewhere around 1911?)...there are other examples, perhaps too numerous to cite.


message 18: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5315 comments Well sort of, but youth in ROSEMARY'S BABY is shown to be pretty thoroughly exploited by old age. The film sets up a very definite youth vs. old age dynamic. The coven at the Bramford are all shown to be senior citizens.


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