Thursday 20 September 2012

Rosemary's Baby [1968]

Polanski has always loved delving into the dark and grotesque underbelly of human behavior, and nowhere has this been more pronounced than in Rosemary’s Baby, his first film in the US. He had made a masterly psychological horror with Repulsion, and he crossed the line towards the supernatural with this movie, which counts among its successors such iconic horror films as The Exorcist and Omen. Adapted from Ira Levin’s bestselling novel, the film begins with Guy (John Cassavetes), a struggling actor, and Rosemary (Mia Farrow), his loving and simple-natured wife, moving into an old but beautiful New York City apartment located in a creepy, gothic building with a gruesome history, where they are befriended by an intrusive and overtly friendly elderly couple (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer). The story takes an incredibly dark and ominous turn when Rosemary finds herself pregnant with her first child after a bizarre dream where she is violated by her husband in satanic garb and with their elderly neighbours performing demonic chants around her. From there on, it becomes a gripping account of her futile attempts to save her child from those around her; but the question remains, is something sinister really going on around her, or is it all just a manifestation of her disturbed mind, repressed sexuality and Catholic guilt? Though some of the editing could have been smoother and the finale a tad subtler, the end product was deeply distressing and disconcerting, filled with great atmosphere and mood. The acting was good, with Farrow providing a standout performance as the fragile and emotionally vulnerable protagonist trapped in a hellish nightmare.

Director: Roman Polanski
Genre: Horror/Psychological Horror
Language: English
Country: US


Dan O. said...

Great review. This flick isn't terribly scary, but it's got a tense and paranoid sense of style that really worked, especially in the last 10 minutes when everything comes full-circle. Pretty freaky stuff here, I must say.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Dan. Yup, the film wasn't as much about its scariness-quotient, as it was about the ominous mood, relentless sense of paranoia (as you aptly observed), and a perpetual disconcerting feel for the viewers.

Sam Juliano said...

Excellent piece here Shubhajit of a horror classic! K. Komeda's haunting score is one of the best of it's kind, and Ms. Farrow proves herself up to the vocals. Some of the bizarre supporting characters have been justly celebrated, and the film has delicious and devilish underpinnings. Can't wait for the Criterion blu-ray due next month!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Sam. The score as well as the camera-work nicely complemented the ominous tone of the film. And what to say about Mia Farrow - she was the film's focal point, and she did more than ample justice to that. By the way, the kind of things that she had to do during the filming process (esp. the scene where she walks across a busy street), made for great reading.