Tuesday, 8 March 2016

CUTTING EDGES 9: 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968)

Fig.1. 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968) Movie Poster

Directed by, Roman Polanski and based on the novel by Ira Levin, 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968) is, at times, a terribly mundane film that reaches it's full potential towards it's final scenes. Early on in the film we are shown quite realistic way of life involving out two main characters, Rosemary and Guy, played by, Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes, only for it to be flipped upside down by a strange pregnancy.

Fig.2. Film Still 
Let's skip the foreplay and jump straight to the conception. For most people conception is a beautiful moment that is shared with the person they love, a moment of passion and lust. Not in the case of 'Rosemary's Baby' a scene filled with fear. Green smoke rises from the body of Rosemary as a devilish red hand caresses her body. The terrifying ticking that plays throughout this sequence hold's the audience at a stand still as they watch what happens on screen. And then, the electrifying music that suddenly invades the minds of the viewers. Roger Ebert says, 'It is a creepy film and a crawly film, and a film filled with things that go bump in the night' (Ebert, 1968)  it is arguable that 'Rosemary's Baby' is a monster a movie, a powerful monster movie categorised by it's unknown nature. Like in typical monster movies we are teased by it's physicality, just like in this film, we see it's hands, the hands of the devil. Then it's piercing red eyes, filled with fire and fury staring into the eyes of Rosemary, although during this point, it's eyes stare directly towards the audience which feels invasive and harsh. 

Fig.3. Film Still
"What have you done to it's eyes!?" A good question asked by Rosemary. What have they done to it's eyes exactly? Polanski left us in the dark about this, leaving the audience to wonder and watch as Rosemary is her distressed state copes with what she has just seen. In a review for 'Slant Magazine' Eric Henderson he states, 'Every moment we choose not to believe Rosemary, regardless of the fact that we're being led by the nose of Polanski, we become complicit in the set of values that, externally, continue to pollute the discourse surrounding pregnancy' (Henderson, 2013)
Everything that has happened in the film has led to this moment, having watched the story unfold, we have watched Rosemary play catch up. The audience will always be one step ahead as we don't watch as a participant but as a someone passing by who happens to notice some strange things going on. As an audience, not believing Rosemary seems like such a strange thing to do, but it leaves you to wonder is what is happening to her real? Is her mind simply being challenged by the effects of her pregnancy? or does is this film a possible insight to her mental health. 

As told in a review by 'The Guardian' 'The film works on multiple levels - as a supernatural thriller (though explicit paranormal elements are limited to a hallucinatory dream sequence and the final shot of the baby's eyes), as a psychological thriller about a paranoid pregnant woman who imagines herself at the centre of a conspiracy, and as the last work in the marital betrayal, since the most despicable villain here is surely Guy, who allows his wife to be raped by the devil in exchange for an acting role.' (Billson, 2010) Having all these genres in one film is what makes 'Rosemary's Baby' stand out, it reflect on the social issues of women in the 60's which gives it a dramatic and realistic aspect but mixed in with the supernatural/horror that Polanski uses it gives it an edgy sense of surrealism that takes you away from the mundane and off into a world that doesn't seem as close to home. 


Billson, A 'Rosemary's Baby: NO.2 Best Film Movie of All Time' At:http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/22/rosemarys-baby-polanksi-horror Accessed On: 08/03/2016

Ebert, R 'Rosemary's Baby' At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/rosemarys-baby-1968 Accessed on: 08/03/2016 

Henderson, E 'Rosemary's Baby' At: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/rosemarys-baby Accessed on: 08/03/2016


Figure 1. 'Rosemary's Baby' [Poster] At: http://www.classichorrorposters.com/4061/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/rosemarys-baby-movie-poster-1968-1020264758.jpg Accessed on: 08/03/2016

Figure 2. [Film Still] At: https://tinygrenade.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/dream-rosemarys-baby.jpg Accessed on: 08/03/2016

Figure 3. [Film Still] At: http://www.thelocationguide.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/The-Original-Rosemarys-Baby.jpg Accessed on: 08/03/2016


  1. It's nice that you found the time to watch this under your own steam, Tom. I can't quite get a sense if you admired/enjoyed the movie; for me, it's a grower; first time I saw it when I was much younger, I was like 'meh' - but its sophistication impresses more and more to my adult eye - and it looks utterly gorgeous.

    Your reviewer is in error; he talks about 'the final shot of the baby's eyes' - but that in fact is the one shot we're never shown, we're only left to imagine it...

  2. I didn't really enjoy the movie, I get what it is and how well made it is but I just couldn't find myself drawn in to its story. That may be why my review seems so very distant. Ah yes, that he is!!

  3. Give it a few years Tom, and try it again :)
    I didn't really find your review distant... I found it to be quite 'evaluating', so well done.