Today we have the wonderful Anna of Film Grimoire reviewing a horror favorite of mine. Anna got really excited about this brilliant film & posted a little about it along with some amazing images from the movie HERE. Anna is passionate about film and writes excellent reviews on a wide variety of genres. Anna – it may not seem like it as I’ve not been commenting on anything on WordPress lately due to a busy schedule but I love your reviews & you’ll wake up one day to suddenly find a million comments from me where I’ve made time to thoroughly raid your blog! I must really annoy people when I do that… 😉
There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE.
Now let’s turn things over to Anna to get her full review of Rosemary’s Baby, IMDB rank 229 out of 250…
The second film in Roman Polanski’s famed Apartment Trilogy, Rosemary’s Baby (1968) is a film synonymous with the horror genre. After moving in to a beautiful yet spooky apartment building, Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse become close with their annoying neighbours Roman and Minnie, whether they like it or not. Rosemary becomes pregnant under mysterious circumstances, and with her mothering instincts kicking in, she must fight to protect her unborn child against supernatural forces.
Where does one start with a film that is so iconic, and so ubiquitous? Where do you start writing a review of a film that is so universally loved, and after you finish watching it, you have to sit in silence for a moment to pay it the respect it deserves? It may come as no surprise to say that I love this film. It’s been in my top 10 films of all time list ever since I started thinking about a top 10.
Firstly, the music and sound design are two of my favourite elements of this film. From the very beginning, when the camera is panning over the metropolis of New York City, we hear a simple lullaby that is at once comforting and threatening. This immediately sets the tone of the film, and when the camera rests on the creepy building that Rosemary and Guy seek to make their home, the audience instinctively knows there’s something wrong with it. The repetition of this lullaby during key moments increases that feeling of being threatened. In addition to the music, the sound design is perfect in general. During scenes inside the building, we can hear city sounds, creaking floorboards, kids screaming from outside, taps dripping, traffic noises – all of these sounds combine to create an environment that seems both protected from the outside, but also vulnerable to it. The sound design is as much a storyteller as the characters are.
In terms of the acting, Mia Farrow is charming as Rosemary from the very beginning. She plays her character with such innocence, but also a rawness that’s difficult to pinpoint exactly. At times she’s childlike, at times lustful. As her body changes during pregnancy and she becomes confused by her condition and physical decline, she portrays the conflict between wanting to be healthy and wanting to keep her baby in such a heartbreaking way. Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer portray Minnie and Roman, the suspicious neighbours, perfectly. Particularly Ruth Gordon, who scored a Best Supporting Actress for her role, and whose intrusion into and influence upon Rosemary’s daily life and pregnancy is played with such well-meaning menace. John Cassavetes’ performance as Guy is fraught with his own secret conflict and can be frustrating to watch for this reason, but is also very good.
There are a number of moments in Rosemary’s Baby where I just throw my hands up and say, “That’s it, this is a perfect film.” One particular moment, where Rosemary and Minnie are washing dishes in the kitchen after a dinner party, and Guy and Roman are smoking together in the living room. Rosemary looks back from the kitchen toward the living room to see where Guy is, and we can’t see or hear them, but all we see in that shot is smoke curling across the air from where they’re sitting. Something so simple can be so threatening, and Polanski’s direction nails it every time.
Speaking of which, the direction and cinematography in Rosemary’s Baby are top notch. The camera work adds to the overall feelings of tension as it looks through the apartment slowly and creepily. Any scene where the camera is following Rosemary and another character through the apartment seems strange because it feels like there’s an extra person hanging around watching them. Later in the film, there is some interesting handheld camera work, which adds to the frenzy of certain scenes. The film’s dream sequences are also directed impeccably, in such a way that they do seem like real dreams, rather than ‘movie dreams’ that can be a bit too linear to be realistic.
Meanwhile, the cinematography is amazing. The way the film is constructed visually is just as impressive as the camerawork. Early on in the film, Rosemary and Guy paint the apartment white to make it feel lighter – later in the film, as Rosemary’s pregnancy progresses, the use of shadows and angles makes the apartment look just as dark as before, even though the colour scheme is light. This is but one example of the amazing coexistence between the film’s cinematography and story.
Rosemary’s Baby also has a lot of good rewatch value. Small looks, clever elements of cinematography, and symbolic props add another layer to the film that you might not catch upon first viewing. One example of this is where Rosemary and Guy are looking at baby clothes – revulsion quickly flits across Guy’s face when Rosemary holds up a small jumper. Having already seen the film, something so simple as a facial expression can have a strong impact on the viewer. These smaller moments are so rewarding when you watch the film for a second, or even a third, time.
Finally, the ending of the film is one of the more perfect film endings. The final scene of the film (no spoilers here) is one of the best. Even though some elements of it can be cheesy, purely due to the supernatural elements at play in the film, the “big reveal” is so sinister that I tend to forget about them. Rosemary’s character arc is complete, and as a viewer it can be difficult to reconcile her actions throughout the film with the actual ending of the film. But the film raises an interesting question about what it means to be a mother, and the kind of protective instincts that might arise in a mother upon giving birth to a child.
You might be able to tell that I am a big fan of this film. I honestly could write a lot more about it but I should probably stop before I write a whole book. Rosemary’s Baby is a film that will stay in my top 10 for a very long time. It is a slow burner, but it develops at a steady pace and certainly gathers a lot of momentum. Please watch it, if you haven’t already. It is absolutely worthy of its place in IMDb’s Top 250, and is probably one of the best horror films ever made.
Watch the trailer here.
Great review, Anna. I guess I need to see this. 🙂
YES you DO need to see this classic! : )
Thanks! 🙂 Now you officially must see it.
Wahoo! 🙂 Thanks for the lovely words, had a lot of fun writing this. Loving this blogathon!
Thank you so much for joining in! : ) Great review! Love this film. And love that you’re loving this blogathon! Lol. People really seem excited about it. I hate to put it on hold during the Hughes blogathon now! : )
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Nice work, Anna!!! It’s been SO long since I’ve seen this – I should revisit soon : )
Mutant Disco – did you know that Anna got the first ever SHITFEST tattoo???? Tramp stamp all the way, baby!!!
Thanks! 🙂 Now that’s a tattoo that I’ll be proud of forever!
What’s this Shitfest tattoo all about???? I’m jealous!
Awesome film and a rare brilliant book interpretation.
I’m actually reading the book now and loving it! Getting some strange looks on the train though.
This is a book?! Lol. Love the film at least. : )
Another great post in what’s proving to be a really strong feature.
Thank you! 🙂
It is an excellent post. I’m loving all these wonderful guest reviews for this! : )
great review Anna.
Maybe I should see this one day eventhough I’m not a fan of horror
Thanks! You definitely have to see it – it’s not your typical horror film.
I love Rosemary’s Baby, Rob! Of course, I love The Shining too… ; )
Great work Anna. This is without a doubt one of the very best horrors ever made. Such a psychological nightmare.
Thanks Mark! Totally agreed. And it’s so clever in building the sense of paranoia and threat over time.
Why can’t they make good horror like this anymore?? : )
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Another over-rated, gawd-awful, over-hyped, cliche-ridden “film” with the zero-dimensional Mia Farrow giving a galactically boring performance. If you have a chance to see this tripe- do something else.
I love this movie.