Pregnancy is a scary proposition. While it may be one of the most memorable acts a human being can take on, it comes with its fair share of horror. Not only is the pain off-putting, but the realization that your entire life has changed can be terrifying for many individuals. Luckily, many mothers are able to have a safe and comfortable pregnancy due to the help of significant others, family, or just strong will.
Not only is giving birth a special moment, but just the decision to have a child is a celebration in and of itself. The thought of bringing a new life into the world is powerful and gives life meaning for many individuals. What happens when all the happiness and empowerment is taken away and replaced with paranoia and fear?
Rosemary’s Baby begins in 1965 with Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her husband, Guy (John Cassavetes), buying a new apartment in a rich part of New York City. The upgrade in lifestyle and territory comes with a lot of rumors about the families that live in the building. While it may be filled with older people who are past their prime, it is stacked to the brim with a gossipry of witchcraft and occult behavior. While Guy is a struggling actor and seems quite ornery at times; Rosemary is a vivacious, albeit annoying, wife who wants to have a child above all else. Once they decide to have a child, all hell breaks loose and Rosemary’s grasp on the truth begins to loosen. It is a slow, but powerful descent into madness.
Rosemary’s Baby asks the viewer to imagine a world where you are completely distrusting of everyone around you. In this world, are you a pawn in a greater game or is your own mind getting in the way of the truth? Paranoia and suspense are the two things that Rosemary’s Baby masterfully accomplishes. This film may be long (136 minutes), but it is the slow crawl of suspense that eventually bursts and the viewer is rewarded. This film is also highly relatable. While many of us may never experience child birth, we all can relate to the various themes represented in the film. What happens when you can’t trust the people you love anymore? What happens when you can’t trust yourself anymore?
From a cinematic standpoint, Rosemary’s Baby is brilliant. It may not have the pop out scares that we are accustomed to now-a-days, but it does have a sinister quality to it. This movie pushes itself from good to great during the various dream sequences in which we are privy to Rosemary’s mind. Religious tension and sexual assault forces the viewer to compare and juxtapose various concepts that can become unnerving.
Is there anything wrong with the film? Almost all of the characters simply aren’t grounded. This can result in many viewers becoming annoyed with the actions of a few. There are few characters you can truly relate to (looking at you Hutch), but this may just add to the mystery of it all. My biggest qualm with Rosemary’s Baby is the ending. Is the payoff big enough? Could the director (Roman Polanski) have pushed this movie just a bit further to get everything out of it?
Rosemary’s Baby is a phenomenal demon film that spawned many future devil movies. A couple people may have issues with the length, characters, or ending, but these are all mute points when it comes to the masterful execution of the film. In the end, It is impossible not to root for Rosemary. It is dire indeed when you think what you cherish the most has been stolen from you. Losing what you love may hurt, but not even knowing whether you lost it at all can be even more painful.
If you liked Rosemary's Baby, you might also like The Exorcist.