Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ten Statements About....ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968)

One of the greatest reaction shots in movie history...
"He has his father's eyes."
"What do you mean? Guy's eyes are normal!"
1) This film is right smack dab in the middle of Polanski's suspense/horror period--and much like similar films like Repulsion, What? and The Tenant, Polanski starts building the sense of unease with tiny, near-subliminal touches during Guy and Rosemary's initial visit to the Bramford. After all the strange glimpses of workmen seemingly working on nothing, the cracks in the hall and the likesuch, I'm surprised they're willing to take it...especially after Maurice Evans' Hutch gives them that gruesome catalog of stuff that happened within. But then, you all know what my friend Derrick says about white people and haunted/evil houses...

(and incidentally, after this and The House On Haunted Hill, I'm convinced that if Elisha Cook is showing you a

2) You know, I always knew that Farrow would give good paranoid with the best of them...but I never realized how well she did the before of Rosemary, how she was able to convey how engaging the character is at the beginning of the ordeal. This just emphasizes how truly far she falls once everything goes off the rails--an emphasis given sharper relief by the hints we see in her dreams that there was always something of a desire to keep everything in order in her from an early age.

You know, if you meet a couple over the body of their
just-suicided boarder...they're prolly not good best
friend material.
3) I love how Rosemary and the Casevets are, at their core, doing the same thing when they interact with Guy--namely, reflecting back his own desires and thoughts, feeding him a continual line of what they think he needs to hear. It makes the deal Guy makes--or that Rosemary thinks he makes--all the more plausible.

4) The genius of the dream sequence is how Polanski spends so much time with stuff that is obviously a dream--the whole thing with the ship and Hutch and the like--that when we get to the stuff that might not be, like creepy naked old folks preparing Rosemary for her date with The Devil, we don't question it. Hell, even when a wide-eyed Farrow tells us flat out that this is not a dream, we don't accept it as fact.

5) I really like how the only person who behaves in a creepy and suspicious manner is Guy--which is why I think John Cassavetes was perfect in the role. I think that if they had cast someone more, well, movie star handsome we wouldn't buy him being so squirrely...which means that Guy wouldn't serve to throw suspicion off of the true monsters of this film.

6) I know there has to be some form of make-up involved...but My God, does Farrow sell her physical changes through her body language and even the way the timbre of her voice subtlely alters every time she improves or worsens.

7) Reason why this film could never be remade #1: the fact that, crazy dream sequence nonwithstanding, we never see anything overtly supernatural happening. This keeps open something that Polanski wanted open (and something that seems to have been an obsession with him during this period)...that it's all in Rosemary's head, and this conspiracy of witches is something she creates to justify her condition. If it was remade, you know we'd have lots of scary shit going on and CGI spooks a'bounding. And speaking of which...

The worst thing about these satanists is how...
reasonable they are.
8) Reason why this film could never be remade #2: Every one of the members of the conspiracy in it behaves so damn normally. This creates an ambiguity that modern Hollywood would just not let stand.

9) Because this film is so claustrophobic, confined for the lion's share to just that one apartment building, it actually serves to make the few outside shots seem alien and strange, even the ones of landmarks we recognize.

10) What makes the final sequence so unnerving is how Polanski gives us a variety of reactions to Rosemary discovering Adrian's existence. The fact that Roman and Minnie treats her with such reverence and respect allows us to come to our own decision about what our heroine ultimately decides...and no matter what she does decide, it's not good.

Overall...a masterful, excellent film that can be looked upon either a paranoid thriller or a creepy, subtle horror story that is made even more amazing by the uniformly great performances from everyone--especially Farrow.

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