Monday, 10 October 2011

Percecution, Paranoia and Motherhood... with Satan

Rosemary’s Baby
12 June, 1968
Directed by: 
Roman Polanski

Produced by:
William Castle

Written by: 
Roman Polanski, based on the novel “Rosemary’s Baby” by Ira Levin.

Mia Farrow
John Cassavetes
Ruth Gordon
Sidney Blackmer
Maurice Evans
Ralph Bellamy

Summary: Rosemary and Guy have only recently moved into their New York City apartment, when strange events begin to happen – particularly involving their neighbours Minnie and Roman. Rosemary is a somewhat na├»ve housewife and Guy is a struggling actor. Unknown to Rosemary, with the promise of his career improving, Guy makes a pact with the Devil for Rosemary to carry his baby – with the encouragement of Minnie and Roman. Rosemary does not think that things are right, and begins to feel like people do not want what is best for her baby. As she becomes more and more isolated and confused, Rosemary attempts to uncover what is actually happening before it is too late.

My Favourite Scene: For me, the most poignant scene and the one which remained with me afterwards, was when Rosemary visits her doctor (not the devil worshipping Abe Saperstein, but a different one!) and confides in him everything she has discovered about the ‘witches’ and expresses her worries for herself and the baby.  The doctor sympathises and tells her that she will be okay. After the conversation Rosemary is shown to a room where she can rest. It is clear that she feels a huge sense of relief and tells her baby that everything is going to be fine. However, just when we think that Rosemary is protected from them, the husband and Doctor Saperstein come and collect her, saying: if you say anything more about witches or witchcraft, we're gonna be forced to take you to a mental hospital. You don't want that, do you?” It is obvious that the doctor Rosemary thought would help her, did not believe her - and thinking that she was mentally unwell, contacted her husband and doctor to take her home.

This scene really made me feel for Rosemary. When she found someone she could talk to, it seemed that she was no longer alone and someone was going to help her. However, it turned out that the story was so ridiculous, it was not credible. Perhaps the most distressing element of the scene is the knowledge that now the ‘witches’ know Rosemary is aware of everything, they will trap her to make sure nothing more could possibly go wrong. This scene in the film really highlights the sense of Rosemary being defenseless and isolated, with nothing and no one to help her.
My Favourite Quotes: 
Rosemary Woodhouse: Witches… All of them witches!

Minnie Castevet: He chose you, honey! From all the women in the world to be the mother of his only living son!

Rosemary Woodhouse: What have you done to him? What have you done to his eyes, you maniacs!

My Thoughts: I found ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ really very gripping as a ‘scary film’ because as the plot progressed and more of Rosemary’s character was revealed, the audience connect with her and empathise with her situation – as anyone would! This makes what happens to her more hard-hitting and has a strong emotional effect on the viewer, I believe. The brilliant element of the plot, is the way in which it is slowly revealed.  Rosemary’s sense of a lack of security and trust as a result of what is happening to her - is felt by the audience also and therefore, it is difficult to know whether someone is helping Rosemary or not. This gives the film a very frightening feel.

I cannot imagine Rosemary being portrayed more perfectly than by Mia Farrow. I think she really captured the weak, fragile and vulnerable character. She also depicted the paranoid element to Rosemary’s character excellently, as the film developed – in such a way that it almost appears to be her that is insane, not the ‘witches’. The characters of Minnie and Roman Castevet (Ruth Gordon and Sydney Blackmer) were also portrayed brilliantly. The pushiness of Minnie and slight delusionary aspect of Roman, create an element of their characters being slightly loveable – as in some aspects, they present a realism which is not usually portrayed in the ‘baddie’ role in scary films. They, and the other Satan ‘worshippers’ also question the idea and existence of evil, as they are presented as just normal neighbours.

Something I found fascinating about ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is that it is believed the isolation and persecution of Rosemary, is a reflection of director Roman Polanski’s own experience growing up as a Jewish person in Nazi-occupied Poland. I found this parallel very interesting and think that for a director to incorporate their own experiences in a film, really shows strong commitment and passion.

A powerful theme in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is the idea of the bond between mother and child – although in this case, the child happens to be satanic! The end scene of the film really conveys that that bond is unbreakable because despite knowing that the child is evil (spawn of the Devil probably would be!) Rosemary still decides to rock the baby’s cot – portraying an element of her accepting the baby. I thought this film was really excellent. It was incredibly gripping and presented the strength of Rosemary attempting to protect her baby against everything. While the film revolves around Rosemary being surrounded by evil – there seems to be an underlying message of love.