Wednesday, 8 December 2010


Director: Roman Polanski
Producer: William Castle
Cast: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy
Year: 1968

Rosemary's baby is an American horror film directed by the famous Roman Polanski who is well known for his darkly atmospheric signature in films. The plot is simple yet effective: a young couple moves into a new Gothic style (19th century) apartment in New York City. There, they are surrounded by peculiar, nosey neighbours who were strangely being paranoiac about Rosemary's current pregnancy. What was later discovered was that her baby was going to be used as a sacrifice to Satan in exchange for Rosemary's Husband's career success. Rosemary,yet shocked, has no choice but to play her role right as a mother and raise her only child.
Even though it lacks in special effects and hardly sheds a drop of blood, which is what the audience expects from horror films nowadays, Rosemary's Baby was way ahead its time and is considered as a "classic", an unbelievable tale of the supernatural. There was no need of any special effects in this film- fear itself was the special effect and gave it a very special touch. "Much of the fear factor is psychological, and there are no overt visuals or particularly gory scenes. It wasn’t necessary." ( Sumner.2006) In terms of flow the film was quite slow. Using dream sequences and small clues, Roman Polanski sluggishly moves to the story's sudden ending which gives time to the audience to fully comprehend and quietly builds an unbearable tension."Polanski takes a most odd situation and makes it completely believable, right up to the end." (Murray.2010)
It is very interesting how Polanski uses colour to accompany the film's mood. The sicken yellow at the beginning of the film for instance (FIG.2), which has a conflicting symbolism, denotes happiness and joy- the kind of mood the young couple is going through when they are about to move in the new apartment. At the same time though, yellow symbolises betrayal, dishonesty, illness and  deceit which could be a kind of a hidden message within the film, a warning to what is about to come.
It is also noticeable how the film starts with brightness and vivid colourations and slowly changes into a darker atmosphere (FIG.3) as the story approaches its spooky, nightmarish side. It is actually quite uncanny: the joyful bedroom and living room seem homely but as the plot of the story begins to unfold they are no longer pleasant. The house slowly scares Rosemary, she regards it as her enemy- the place where all evil started and ruined her dreams of the future.


In addtion, Roman Polansky uses his film as a way to express his opinion in different issues such as religion. At some point in the movie Rosemary picks a magazine which was titled: "Is God Dead?". Rosemary is a Catholic, experiencing guilt for her religion and practising on a consistent basis. Polanski suggest with this scene how abandonment of religion can be preconditions of Satan's birth.
Another issue the film examines is the boundaries in-between young and old generations. The film starts with a young couple ready to start their new life together but their happiness is slowly driven away by their eccentric neighbours who are an elderly couple. This aspect towards elderly people can also be seen in  Polanski points out that evilness can be found in the most friendly places, like in our neighbourhood's warmth and warns us to always be concious of whatever is too friendly.
Another element which gives the film such suspense is its use of camera angles. In most cases the camera is used as a third person who peeps through and stalks the characters' actions. Like in one of the last scenes where Rosemary carries a knife and walks into the living room (FIG.4)where the camera is placed in the room she came from.That view instantly makes the viewer think someone else is following her and maintains the audience's interest.
 Finally, Polanski uses interesting sound effects in the film like the pleasant but somehow creepy lullaby or the speeding ticking clock noise. Silence is also being used a lot  which emphasizes the tension of the scene and grabs your attention.
All in all, Rosemary's Baby is a fascinating film to watch. It takes to a journey through the unknown world of psychology and works in multiple levels: as a psychological thriller, a supernatural thriller and "as the last word in 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)

Steven Cassey Murray(2010) Film Review 8/12/2010)
Sumner, Don(2006) Film Review 8/12/2010)
Billson, Ann(2010) Film Review 8/12/2010)

List of Illustrations
FIG.1: Film Poster (accessed at 7/12/2010)
FIG.2: Film Still (accessed 8/12/2010)
FIG.3: Film Still
FIG.4: Film Still (accessed 8/12/2010)

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