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Rosemary’s Baby

Director: Roman Polanski
Screenwriter: Roman Polanski
Based on: Ira Levin's novel
Year: 1968
Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon



I decided to make this the starting off movie, instead of 12 Angry Men, because of the remake news I heard about it. I’m indignant.

I first saw a scene of this when I was very, very young—too young to understand how TVs worked. I walked in while my mother was watching it, and it happened to be the last scene—yes, I was spoiled for this movie at a very young age. I tried to look in the crib, because dammit, I wanted to see what the baby looked like. I was extremely disappointed, because you never saw him.

Now I know why you never saw him.

Rosemary’s Baby is a psychological thriller, not a horror movie. Everything is subtle and scary, not overblown, save the rape scene, which is done out of proportion and ridiculous so you would think it was a dream. We’d seen her dream sequences before, so you don’t think twice about it. Everything must be subtle, otherwise it becomes campy, hokey, and cheesy. There is nothing cheesy about Rosemary’s Baby. Even the demon rape is scary, because, as surreal as it is, it makes you feel incredibly dirty after watching it—it looks like rape.

The actors all performed very well. Mia Farrow plays Rosemary, who is a loving, if naïve, young woman who wants nothing more than to please her husband and see him successful and have a large family. John Cassavetes plays Guy, her selfish husband, and I probably despised him the most of all the characters. His movements, like the rest of the movie, are very subtle, the best/worst being when the baby first moves. Rosemary is excited, almost crying with relief that her baby is alive and all right, and when he feels it, he jerks away in what could be interpreted as shock, but you know exactly why he is so afraid.

And, of course, there are the neighbors—their nosiness quickly becomes sinister, inconspicuous but effective acting portraying that. They go from wanting to know everybody’s business to simply controlling, keeping Rosemary in her own home as if it were a prison. Farrow’s performance as well as when she, one by one, whittles down her allies to absolutely nothing is brilliant and real. And, of course, the movie’s climax, when everything is finally revealed, and Rosemary’s baby turns out to be not her husband’s, but the Devil’s. The screaming chants of, “Hail Satan!” and wild, frenzied praise of the Devil never fails to send chills up my spine.

Which is exactly why the remake, like the remake of The Omen, will fail spectacularly.

This generation has no idea what to do with subtlety—it’s like they can’t understand it. As such, the demon rape scene will be hideously exaggerated and explicit, and they will most assuredly show Rosemary’s baby to the audience even though in the original you never saw it—the audience would be far too fussy if you didn’t show a hideously deformed mutant devil baby straight out of It’s Alive. They will most assuredly turn Rosemary’s Baby into a horror movie, which is something it isn’t. It’s a psychological thriller, and is one of those movies that should not ever, ever be remade.

My rating: 5 out of 5 for its genre. Effective, subtle, evil, and tense.


Feel free to ask any other questions regarding the movie.

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April 2008

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