the fresh films reviews

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Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Roman Polanski
Psychological horror
Rosemarys baby
136 minutes
William Castle
Screenwriter (based on the novel by Ira Levin):
Roman Polanski

Cast includes:

Rosemary Woodhouse Mia Farrow
Guy Woodhouse John Cassavetes
Minnie Castevet Ruth Gordon
Roman Castevet Sidney Blackmer
Hutch Maurice Evans -
Dr. Sapirstein Ralph Bellamy -
Terry Fionoffrio Victoria Vetri -
Laura-Louise Patsy Kelly -
Mr. Nicklas Elisha Cook, Jr. -
Dr. Hill Charles Grodin -



This was one of the first mainstream horror movies about Satanism, devil-worshipping, witchcraft and possession, five years before William Friedkin's The Exorcist made its mark on history. Rosemary's Baby was Roman Polanski's first American film, after he had earned a name for himself worldwide through European films such as Noz w wodzie and Repulsion. And the trip across the Atlantic didn't seem to Americanize him too much he kept his delicate playfulness and command of the medium. Polanski was a master at utilizing props for thematic effect, sometimes subtly, sometimes more outright, and that is very much valid also for Rosemary's Baby. Nothing is left to chance in this film, and certainly not the cinematography, as William A. Fraker trails Mia Farrow throughout the movie, and not with one ounce of pity.

One of the highlights of this iconic film is a wonderful dream-sequence, which in many ways also is its turning point. Polanski piles on so many narrative and thematic elements here that the scene ultimately becomes a thought-provoking chaos of imagery. Throughout the rest of the film, Polanski reaps the benefits of this segment, as Rosemary delves deeper and deeper into her predicament.

The ending is one for interpretation, but perhaps not in the way some would have hoped. Because how can those cosy geriatrics really be anything than nice? The threat they pose has all the way been thematic and implicit, which towards the end may make it less palpable seeing as their characters remain good-natured. The only really dishonest person in the film is Guy so perhaps actors and filmmakers are the real target here?

Notwithstanding, Rosemary's Baby is two hours of meticulously built suspense. Not only has Polanski derived Hitchcock's delightful lack of consideration for his protagonist and viewers, but he also manages to create a uniquely stylistic horror movie without even mentioning SFX. And as Mia Farrow peeks into the bassinette, we don't even get to see little Adrian's eyes, which is far from what Linda Blair had to suffer for the art five years later.

English version: Copyright 18.02.2020 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review:
Copyright 31.10.1997 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang