Rosemary’s Baby

Talk about classic thrillers – I think I understand why Rosemary’s Baby is considered amongst their number. Only tip would be…don’t read the blurb on the DVD/video cover, or it loses some of its effectiveness. Like most thrillers (or shows that play with one’s mind), this film is more effective the less one knows about it.

Rosemary’s Baby is dated (it’s a 1968 film after all), with clothing, hairstyles and even attitudes that many Westerners today wouldn’t accept (eg. the husband blatantly refusing to allow his wife to consult another doctor). In terms of the latter, such a film might not be possible now.

The story involves a couple who find and move into a New York apartment, with some nosy and eccentric neighbours, Minnie and Roman Castevet. The husband (Guy) is an actor struggling to make his name in the theatre scene, and Rosemary is increasingly left to her own devices, whereupon she finds the attentions of her female neighbour unbearable. Upon realising her distress, Guy agrees to try for a baby, and after some rituals (candlelit dinners and more), they succeed. However, problems arise. Rosemary soon begins to feel paranoid about various happenings, driven in part by the pain that her pregnancy is giving her, and the lack of understanding she receives from her husband and doctor, and the isolation enforced by her pain and Guy’s intimacy with Roman (and Minnie). When her friends finally get a glimpse of her, they advise her to get help…

The most gripping aspect of Rosemary’s Baby is how Rosemary is portrayed as a woman spiralling through pain and loneliness into what seems to be an insane paranoia that Guy and the Castevets are plotting to take her child for a Satanic ritual. And, provided you know nothing of the film, the uncertainty as to what the truth actually remains throughout the film, until the final reel confirms her fears.

Rosemary’s situation – her isolation and the lack of options open to her – would be inconceivable in New York today, at least, that’s what I’d hope. But it also paints a horrible picture of certain groups of people…I mean, what does such a film say about old, eccentric people? Did it only teach the people of the 60s and 70s to avoid mingling with older neighbours, especially those who might seem eccentric? Does it associate a certain portion of society, a certain group of people, with Satanic cults? What does such a representation do to our society? So many questions, many of which are probably irrelevant to appreciation of the film…but well, that’s how my mind works when I decide to write something down.

Anyways, despite all that, one of the first things that came to my mind after watching this was: never marry an actor…how in the world can you trust him/her? (Yes, I’m being discriminatory…but well, given the last few months of entertainment news…)

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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