Saturday, 11 December 2010

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Director: Roman Polanski
Writers: Ira Levin (novel), Roman Polanski (screenplay)
Staring: Mia Farrow, John Casssavetes and Ruth Gordon

The plot of Rosemary’s Baby revolves around a young couple that move into a new apartment in New York. Peculiar neighbours who, at first, seem very friendly surround them. When the wife Rosemary (Mia Farrow) falls pregnant she begins to grow very paranoid for the safety of her unborn child. The paranoia begins controlling her life, as she becomes suspicious of her neighbours and even of her own husband (John Cassavetes). She believes her neighbours are members of a satanic cult of witches, and they want her baby.

Rosemary’s Baby is a fantastic film on many levels the plot is engaging and the main protagonist is relatable. Mia Farrows performance as Rosemary could be considered the backbone of the movie. The audience naturally engages with her character because of her vulnerability in this horrible situation. This is especially noticeable in the later portion of the movie when Rosemary is heavily pregnant, and at her most vulnerable.  Although she is vulnerable, her resilience to the horrors she is facing for the sake of her baby is very admirable.

Unlike the other two movies in Polanski’s apartment trilogy (The Tenant 1976, Repulsion 1965) the threat against the protagonist turns out to be real. In the other two films the characters are imagining the threat due to their own psychological demons rather than literal demons. The movie is however fairly ambiguous to a lesser extent, the possibility that Rosemary is imaging everything is there until the final act.

Nothing paranormal is ever seen in the movie with the exception of one dream sequence. Even in the final scene of the movie when the baby itself is revealed we don’t actually see it. Rosemary’s reaction and the ominous black crib is what make it so incredibly creepy.  It is noticeable that this idea of not showing the monster has been repeated in other movies such as The Blair Witch Project (1999).

Fig. 1

Rosemary's reaction to the demon baby

Perhaps the most horrifying thing about this movie is the fact that the characters are so believable. Rosemary and her husband seem like a realistic young couple. The nosey neighbour (Ruth Gordon) is especially unsettling because she is a believable neighbour. Most people have probably known someone like her, someone who is extremely friendly but a little self imposing. The characters believability helps the audience accept the more extraordinary things that happen in the film. Roger Ebert said in his review of the movie that its scary “because we can believe them as women who live next door to each other, we find it possible to believe the fantastic demands that the Castevets are eventually able to make on Rosemary” (Roger Ebert, Oct  2004).

To conclude Rosemary’s Baby is a fantastically effective engaging thriller due to its subtlety and great acting.


Ebert, R, 2004,,


Fig. 1, Rosemary's Reaction to the Demon Baby, [Rosemary’s Baby Roman Polanski], At:


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