Well… Who would have thought that an amazing 50 years had passed since the release one of the most iconic horror films and possibly the best case of horror realism ever?
June 12th 1968 was the initial release of “Rosemary’s baby”. A tale about a family that moves into an apartment building even after the warnings of their friend that the building has been associated with cannibalism and murder. Once they move in they decide that they want to have a baby. On the night that they plan to conceive one of their neighbors brings Rosemary some chocolate mousse and after drinking it Rosemary faints. During her unconsciousness she has a dream about a demonic entity that rapes her in front of her naked husband and a few other people. Once awake and obviously hurt, her husband informs her that he had sex with her while she was unconscious so that they would not pass up the opportunity to conceive. After that we follow Rosemary during her pregnancy as she suffers massive stomach aches, weight loss and starts having unusual cravings for chicken liver and raw meat up and we see her transform from a loving, feminine and innocent woman to a shell of what she used to be, now a pale and skinny woman with a boyish haircut until the very end as we reach the chilling conclusion (which if you have not seen the movie I will try not to spoil)
This movie is one of the rare movies where so many topics are tackled in such a fantastic way. Polanski manages to tap into our real fears of religion, urban living, pregnancy, claustrophobia and much more. The slow tension of the story makes us feel fear in a much more real way than many of the other horror films that came after it. As he himself said it best in an interview “There is nothing supernatural happening in the movie, everything could happen in real life”. This added with the fantastic cinematography where the scenes go uncut makes us feel as if the reality continues out of the frame thus immersing us much more into the film as we are often put into Rosemary’s shoes and we see what she sees and feel what she feels. We constantly see that Rosemary is denied a lot of things like knowledge and information in order to keep her submissive and more of a “traditional wife”. She is constantly being told not to read books for example. The movie is full of satanic undertones but it shows a lot of catholic influence. For example Rosemary is shown multiple times in the colors of the virgin Mary – blue and white which represent purity and loyalty.
There are a lot of ways that you can examine this movie from different points of views. Feminism, traditionalism, sexuality, misogyny and more, but in its core it is a film that terrifies us with loss of power, paranoia and being helpless and alone in an environment where everyone is out to get you. We start to feel with Rosemary because the movie plays on our most common fears of being trapped and controlled and not being able to make choices for yourself. Something that would not be possible without the flawless performance of Mia Farrow as Rosemary.
This is horror at it’s best. Eerie, unnerving, subtle and completely frightening and it is amazing how it still holds up 50 years later. It plays on both sides of paranoia and conspiracy. Polanski himself said that it could all have been in her head after all. It makes you afraid of trusting people, afraid of the big city life and afraid of getting pregnant. It takes place in a normal world without anything that would seem out of the ordinary and that makes it all the more creepier.
Final verdict: 10/10