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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Film Review - Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Fig.1 Film Poster

Director Roman Polanski’s film Rosemary’s Baby (1968) is a psychological horror film which took the horror genre in a new direction. Rosemary’s Baby was Polanski’s second horror film following his first Repulsion (1958). Both films are about a mentally unstable, sexually terrified women left alone in her apartment. Focusing on the horror’s of apartment dwelling. “Roman Polanski made this gripping film which scares the audience through clever direction and storytelling and without the traditional horror movie "monster".” ( Hill, 1968)

Based on the novel Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin (1967) in Roman Polanski’s hands becomes a multi-layered, seminal horror film that exposes collective subconscious fears and cultural anxieties” (Valdez, 2009). In Polanski's psychological film there are such topic's that are touched upon  such as Satanism and motherhood making this film even more intriguing to watch.

Fig.2 Film Still

The creepy, eerie Gothic film is about a young couple moving into a  New York apartment and planning to start a family.  We first meet Rosemary and Guy as they are planning on moving into a large, rambling old apartment building in Central Park West that looks as if it is falling apart around them.  We find out in the beginning that the previous tenant of the apartment died mysteriously. So right from the start there is an unsettling tone to this film. They slowly and reluctantly become friends, with the overly-solicitous and intrusive elderly couple next door.  The following events slowly unfolded  through the eyes of Rosemary the naive young wife. Guy is an ambitious actor who will not stop at anything to make it to the big time, even willing to bargain with the devil and betray his wife. The true nature of what they have done to Rosemary is gradually revealed to us in the dramatic last 20 minutes of the film. Finding out that their neighbours are witches and that Guy has allowed them to impragnate Rosemary with the seed of the devil. Rosemary is trapped and alone forced to give bith to the spawn of Satan.

Fig.3 Film Still

In the final scene we see the triumphant of evil that is disturbing and can be said that “There is a certain touch of black humor in the proceedings that underlines the horror” ( Biodrowski, 2008) This is seen in the final scene when Rosemary herself and the audience actually find out that all the things that have happened to her were not just her imagination but that they were real. The baby is not shown but what we are given is a brief flashback to the red eyes that Rosemary saw in her dream earlier as well as being told that the baby itself is the spawn of Satan. Subtly it allows the audience to make up their own images/ideas of what it could look like. It could be said that the Rosemary’s Baby is actually a symbol of the Anti-Christ. Who will cause death and destruction to the world the total opposite to Christ. What is so chilling in this last scene is when Rosemary becomes one of them and even though she known’s that it is the Spawn of Satan her maternal instincts kick in. The film ending as we watch Rosemary rocking her baby to sleep.

Fig.4 Film Still

One thing that can be noticed is that “The film’s strength lies in the way that Polanski plays out the ambiguity in the drama” (Travers, 2005) The audience never known’s whether what we are seeing is real or just the hallucinations of Rosemary’s over-active imagination. In the end we are left with the conclusion that Rosemary’s experience were real after all.  Polanski film shows someone's experience of being paranoid and losing their sanity.  It is that well filmed that by the end the audience can understand how it feels to be paranoid just that little bit.

Fig.5 Film Still

Polanski’s Rosemary's Baby is one of those well-crafted movies that show the viewer that horror doesn't necessarily have to equate to blood and gore to be frightening.  

List of Illustrations

Figure 1 - Rosemary's Baby (1968) Rosemary's Baby Film Poster (Accessed on 21/12/2010)
Figure 2 - Rosemary's Baby (1968) Rosemary's Baby Film Still. (Accessed on 21/12/2010)
Figure 3 - Rosemary's Baby (1968) Rosemary's Baby Film Still. (Accessed on 21/12/2010)
Figure 4 - Rosemary's Baby (1968) Rosemary's Baby Film Still. (Accessed on 21/12/2010)
Figure 4 - Rosemary's Baby (1968) Rosemary's Baby Film Still.'s++Baby/185 (Accessed on 21/12/2010)


Hill, Simon. (1968) Celluloid Dreams. (Accessed on 21/12/2010)
Biodrowski, Steve. (2008) Rosemary Baby (1968) – Horror Film Review. (Accessed on 21/12/2010)
Travers, James. (2005) Rosemary’s Baby (1968). (Accessed on 21/12/2010)

1 comment:

  1. Hey Sasha - good to see you getting up-to-date here - even though Christmas-is-a-coming!

    Just keep an eye on your spelling and grammar - yeah, I know, boring - but still essential; just do a quick edit/proof read and polish out any typos - 2 of which I've highlighted below - there are more...

    In Polanski's psychological film there are such topic's (don't need apostrophe)

    Rosemary is trapped and alone forced to give bith to the spawn of Satan. (birth)