Rosemary's Baby

1968, Movie, R, 136 mins

Review

ROSEMARY'S BABY
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Roman Polanski's first American movie and his second masterpiece of horror (REPULSION was released in 1965) is set under the sunny skies of modern-day New York City. There are no creepy characters and no eerie locations, just a happy young couple expecting their first child. Newlyweds Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and unemployed actor Gus (John Cassavetes) have just moved into their new apartment in a gothic Central Park building (shot in the famous Dakota, home of the late John Lennon). Their neighbors, the elderly Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman Castevet (Sidney Blackmer), are friendly but a bit intrusive. Rosemary learns that she is pregnant but feels a strange sense of anxiety. She seems to remember a vague dream in which she was raped by a savage beast. She has mysterious scratches on her stomach. Her doctor prescribes a curious elixir. It's perhaps not surprising that Rosemary becomes fixated by the idea that she has been impregnated by Satan and is now carrying his unholy child in her womb while living among a coven of witches.

Truly frightening because so much of it is so plausible, ROSEMARY'S BABY is one of the finest examples of modern horror, a milestone in the evolution of the genre. Although the subject matter is ultimately supernatural, the treatment is very realistic. Perhaps the film's most disturbing aspect is that the fears and anxiety that Rosemary experiences initially seem like an understandable response for a neurasthenic young woman to have when an "alien" being is growing within her. The brilliance of the film is that it takes this realistic basis and builds upon it with supernatural metaphors that make pregnancy a rich and strange condition. leave a comment

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