ROSEMARY’S BABY, Roman Polanski (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby is one of these films impossible to recall how many times I’ve seen, and still haven’t got tired of.

Today I’m having a very relaxing day, taking it really easy, being listening to music in the morning, I’ve switched on the TV thinking I’d find the standard crap, but surprisingly the initial credits of the film were rolling and although I hate watching movies on TV due to ads cuts, today it was fine to go on watching.

Still remember one of my best friends saying, when he was a kid, got so much traumatized by the film, he hasn’t the balls to review any more. I love it, though.

I wouldn’t consider it a horror film, although the whole story can make you feel uneasy, and the more I watch it, the more I think Polanski has a twisted mind.

This young couple moves to a new flat in Manhattan, it’s funny is located in Dakota building, which became famous because of  the assesination of John Lennon. Truth is that when I saw it in my first visit to Manhattan, the building impressed me for both its beauty, and for something sinister and menacing in the air. Probably I was suggested by the background it had, but definitely made an impact.

Anyway, Guy (John Cassavetes) and Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) move to this new and beautiful apartment in a bad reputed building with a record of mysterious past events. Soon, their weird and eccentric neighbors, Roman and Minnie Castevet, will welcome them and force a close friendly relationship with the young couple. Against all odds, Guy  starts spending much time with them, especially with Roman, a fact that Rosemary somehow does not understand nor accept too well, plus he turns moody and kind of awkward to his wife.

Forgot to remark Guy is a not very successful actor, and the releasing punching ball for his frustration is obviously Rosemary.

When the situation among the couple is suffocating and almost unbearable, Guy, all of a sudden, accepts, even encourages his wife, to have a baby, something Rosemary has wanted badly for long time. In a traditional romantic attitude, he arranges the perfect night for the baby being conceived, and Rosemary is completely charmed. However something strange happens after dinner, and she falls unconscious.

During her deep sleep, she has hallucinations, in which her neighbors are present, and an evil creature rapes her.

Curiously, she gets pregnant. This is the perfect excuse for her neighbors to take active part in their lives, suggesting doctors, taking care of her…but something seems wrong, very wrong.

Although a gorgeous girl when young, I’ve never been devoted to Mia Farrow. The truth is that, despite Polanski’s determination to cover the role of Rosemary Woodhouse with a strong woman, such as his own wife Sharon Tate, the final decision of Farrow as the lead role is simply perfect. The actress combines this innocent appearance with her thin and small body highlighting frailty, fitting the pregnancy process during which poor Rosemary’s energy is sucked to dry up to the point, such decline threatens her life.

If you think about it, Guy Woodhouse visually hasn’t much importance in the film. I mean, all the plot and most of scenes are clearly focused on his wife, and he stands aside, or seems to. Right at the end of the film, when all makes sense, you get the clear picture that all the events have happened due to his appetite for success. As a selfish and frustrated actor whose only wish is to become established, famous and respected, he comes to a point in which he chooses to deal with the Devil rather than keep on struggling for himself, in order to achieve his goals, at any cost. And sells his wife…sad and pathetic.

Can you imagine? The person you love and trust most, not only gives up on you, but also betrays you on his/her own behalf, and you don’t even get the chance to decide whether you accept or not. In Rosemary’s Baby, Polanski deals with Satan himself, but this is an ordinary issue in real life.

Focusing on the film story, a secret society of powerful people looking for the heir of the king of darkness, and this poor girl, Rosemary, for no apparent reason ends up being the mother of the Evil. The dichotomy here is, would you assume that role and care for the little monster or end up putting a bullet in your head? Boundaries and love between mother and son are said to be the strongest, but imagine the scene…terrible.

Whenever I think of Rosemary’s Baby and these circumstances, The Omen also comes to my mind. You see? There’s a limit trespassed the parents cannot endure any longer and try to put the kid in a coffin, once they get acquainted with the situation and the meaning of his existence. However Polanski just focuses on the conception of the evil and leaves the door open to many possibilities.

Polanski’s taste for the twisted and the dark, had already been manifested in Repulsion, for instance, but I’d love to go back to the past and peep the reaction of the audience at the cinemas while watching the film. Sure I’d be plenty of fun people in shock.

Rosemary’s Baby is a classic, a benchmark in films related to the occult, any fan of horror should watch to understand what came next.

You don’t need blood splatter or guts, or amazing special effects to create horror films, you just need good ideas, be able to play with the minds of the audience and create uneasy situations, playing with fiction and reality, highlighting the unknown, to create fear and and a feel of lack of safety. I reckon that’s the key for delivering a good horror film, and Polanski really knew about it.

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