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A Veneer Of Normalcy
Lechuguilla25 November 2007
It starts off like one of those 1950's Doris Day movies. Young, idealistic Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and new hubby Guy (John Cassavetes) move into a Manhattan apartment building called the "Bramford". Throughout most of the film we, as viewers, see and hear what innocent Rosemary sees and hears. There's a veneer of normalcy at the Bramford that belies what's really going on, behind our backs. It's the script's POV, therefore, that makes this film so chilling.

At the Bramford, which has quite a colorful history, you can hear through the walls. And, as Rosemary and we viewers soon find out, strange people lurk in other parts of the building. The strangest of all are Roman and Minnie Castevet (Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon), superficially cordial, but a bit too inquisitive. Roman is retired. His wife, Minnie, wears tons of makeup and pawnshop jewelry, and gushes with praise for herbal cures, especially something called tannis-root. And Minnie's friend Laura-Louise (Patsy Kelly) wears thick glasses that make her eyes seem to bulge, and she talks with a strangely deep voice.

"Rosemary's Baby" is one of the great thrillers of all time. Given the underlying subject matter, can you imagine how this film must have come across to viewers in 1968? The strength of the film is the script, which through its plot and dialogue implies and suggests. Not until near the end do we, like Rosemary, find out the presumed truth. Suspense increases toward the end as Rosemary ventures into the inner sanctum of the Bramford.

The film's acting is great, and reinforces the strong script. I particularly liked Ruth Gordon, with her delightfully eccentric behavior and mannerisms. Production design and especially costumes are lavish and colorful. Clothes and hairstyles, as you would expect, are very 1960ish. Visual effects are minimal, and are used to enhance the story, not be the story.

Given the film's POV, the story is rather subjective. Its interpretation is based on Rosemary's perceptions, images, and fears. One could explain that Rosemary suffers from delusions. Or, alternately, one could explain that what happens is real. It's all in the interpretation. Either way, it's a great movie. It holds up well, forty years later, a tribute to its writer and director, Roman Polanski.
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Psychological Horror at its very best
RWiggum2 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
One might argue Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby is not a horror film, since it lacks almost everything you'll find in almost all of them: shock moments, vampires, werewolf, serial killers, even blood. The most graphic scene is a nightmare sequence that displays a rape scene so stylized it isn't actually disturbing. But one might also argue that Rosemary's Baby is a horror film in its purest form, since it doesn't depend on all those gimmicks to create its atmosphere. I prefer the latter point of view.

So what is happening in this film? Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move to a new apartment. Their neighbors are Roman and Minnie Castevet, an elderly couple. Although they are very friendly, there is something strange about them - the sounds that come from their apartment, the fact they remove all the pictures from their walls when the Woodhouses visit and other things like that. While Rosemary tries to keep a certain distance from them, Guy is very fond of the relationship to his new neighbors, and especially Minnie becomes more and more obtrusive, especially when Rosemary finds out she's pregnant - she recommends her another (better, as she says) gynecologist's and mixes a (healthy, as she says) herbal drink for her every day.

The pregnancy, however, develops rather unpleasant: Rosemary keeps feeling pain in her stomach and she becomes thinner (Pregnant women are supposed to gain, not lose weight, a visiting friend observes), and when the pain doesn't stop after several months, she begins to believe that her neighbors, her gynecologist's and even her husband conspired against her and want to harm the baby she's carrying.

All this is told by Roman Polanski in the perfect tone; the mood for the entire film is already set during the opening credits when we hear that weird lullaby, sung by Mia Farrow. And a lot of strange things happen throughout the entire film: Guy and Rosemary are told by Hutch, a friend of theirs, about the horrific past of the house they're now living in, a young girl that lives with the Castevets commits suicide (really a suicide?), Guy, an actor, gets the role he wanted so badly after the contestant who was originally supposed to play it turns blind, and Hutch, who might have found something out that would help Rosemary, suddenly is in a coma and dies three months later; all these (and a few other) events are precisely dosed by Polanski to draw us more and more into the film, while he makes sure on the other hand that the film doesn't become absurd. And he manages to give the film an ending that works, makes sense and is observant, slightly (but only slightly) funny and very disturbing, all at once.

Rosemary's Baby also contains two of the most memorable performances ever: Mia Farrow is haunting as Rosemary Woodhouse. She looks like she is physically suffering from her pregnancy and close to complete despair. And Ruth Gordon is amazing as the curious Minnie Castevet, always friendly, but also giving you the feeling that, hidden behind her generosity, she actually follows her own, obscure motives. If you have a helpful elderly female neighbor, you'll see her with other eyes once you've encountered Minnie Castevet. So, if you think a real horror film needs shock moments, vampires, werewolf, serial killers or at least blood - watch Rosemary's Baby and you'll change your mind.
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One of the ultimate horror classics
Vince-52 May 2001
Every bit of acclaim that Rosemary's Baby has earned is totally deserved. The Dakota, located at 72nd and Central Park West, is the perfect setting for the demonic events; all that rich Gothic detail in the heart of Manhattan provides the perfect atmosphere, serving as a dark fairy-tale world of its own within the modern setting. Roman Polanski knows this and utilizes it brilliantly, opening the film with stunning aerial shots of the skyline and focusing in on the ornate castle amongst the skyscrapers and tenements.

The acting is fantastic, particularly Mia Farrow, who is the only person I can envision as Rosemary. Her fine-boned fragility makes her the ideal target for terror. She goes from obliviousness to suspicion to fear to near madness without showing a seam, and we as the audience are with her all the way. And Mia is given a run for her money by the delightful Ruth Gordon, a comical yet sinister presence popping in on a deliberate schedule with pale green drinks and sandpapery advice. She's scary because we know her--a batty old broad with a seemingly sweet nature beneath her caustic surface. That such a person could possibly be a vessel of evil is a thoroughly unnerving concept.

Unnerving is the proper adjective for the entire movie. Unnerving, eerie, and penetratingly frightening in a very subtle manner. The subtlety is key, since a more explicit treatment would've spoiled everything. As the tension heightens, we feel what Rosemary feels: Curiosity, then vague suspicion, then paralyzing terror at the final revelation. At all times, the movie retains its dignity, from the opening and closing shots of the building to the flourishing title script to the beautiful music. Even on TV, this picture can chill you to the bone. The best big-budget horror movie of all time.
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Polanski's Baby
marcosaguado13 March 2004
When people talk about perfect films I don't actually know what they mean. Perfect for whom? Perfect compared to what? I think that perfection is in the brain and heart of the beholder. "Rosemary's baby" is a perfect film to me. Scary in a way that makes you breathless. You're thinking and feeling throughout the film. One of the many sides of Polanski's genius is to suggest. And what he suggest is so monstrous that we don't want to believe it, but we do. The characters are so perfectly drawn that there is no cheating involved. John Cassavettes's superb study in selfishness and egomaniacal frustration is so real that comes to no surprise that he could do what he does to advance his career, but we are surprised, we're horrified. The spectacular Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer are not Deborah Kerr and David Niven, are they? So that they turn out to be what they turn out to be is totally believable, but Polanski presents it in such a light of normality that you can't believe it. Mia Farrow's predicament is as classic as the boy who cried wolf tale and yet, as told by Roman Polanski in the wonderful face of Mia Farrow, is as if we're hearing it, seeing it and living it for the first time. Every silence, every voice in the distance, every door opening. Your heart is always in your throat. There is something there that accelerates a constant state of dread. Very few movies have been able to take me to that place, most of them by Roman Polanski, what about "The Tenant" or "Repulsion"? Other movies that come to mind: David Lynch's "Eraserhead" and Martin Donovan's "Apartment Zero" But "Rosemary's baby" stands alone as a terrifying masterpiece.
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Reassuring to fine it's every bit as good as its staunchest champions would have you believe
Spleen21 April 2001
Why aren't the horror directors of today as careful with their scripts as Polanski was? Not that this is really horror. Horror as we know it came into being with the slasher flicks of the late 1970s and early 1980s; "Rosemary's Baby" is rather the kind of thing that the term "dark fantasy" was coined to describe, by people of taste who noticed that the word "horror" promised audiences something distinctly unpleasant and nasty.

The film's construction is marvellous. Things start slow - one beat, so to speak, to a bar - and gradually pick up speed so that by the end we are nervously tapping out semiquavers with our feet. Polanski also understands the gentle art of hint-dropping. Many events are filed away as tiny puzzles to be solved later, and they ARE solved later; others we don't attach any particular significance to at the time Polanski invites us to re-interpret in retrospect, AND chooses the right moment to let us do so. And then, at the end, AFTER we've worked everything out, he presents us with a surprise - a delightful, gratuitous twist which nothing had prepared us for, which we couldn't have guessed, yet which doesn't cancel out the story as we'd understood it. (Alas, many people know what this surprise is in advance. I, for one. Yet this foreknowledge did nothing to spoil my enjoyment: a sure sign of superb construction.)

All in all, a film that tempts you to rank it with the best ever made - which is more, but not much more, than it deserves - simply because it's perfect. Everything went right. Rosemary is a wonderfully sympathetic heroine, powerless without being passive, largely ignorant of what's going on around her without being at all stupid, and Mia Farrow makes you care deeply about her. The cinematography is pellucid; the art direction is subtly right; there's also a fine, odd yet tuneful, musical score. I can't believe I waited so long to see this.
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Rosemary's Fight
Chrysanthepop2 March 2009
Polanski successfully sets the tone right from the beginning as the strange and somewhat scary lullaby plays as the opening credits appear. In the background we see Rosemary's neighborhood while the focus is on her window. This tone is maintained throughout the entire film. The film is quite well executed. Polanski creates a gloomy, isolated and chilling mood. 'Rosemary's Baby' is a horror film but unlike most movies of this genre, this one is very subtle and is more dependent on the atmosphere rather than the 'horror creatures'. It is only in the excellently executed nightmare sequence, which is comprised of fragments of scenes, that one witnesses something 'out of the ordinary'. I was initially dissatisfied by the ending but after some thought, I couldn't think of a better more effective conclusion. The ending itself is so spine-chilling and makes the movie experience more horrifying. The haunting lullaby replays in the end capturing that moment of horror like a photographic memory. The cast does a fine job though clearly this is Farrow's film. Mia Farrow is spellbinding. The way she captures Rosemary's kindness, agony, anguish, fragility and courage is noteworthy. She is simply amazing to watch. I can understand why it is still so popular after 40 years. There has been hardly anything else like it.
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The Horror Underneath a Pregnant Woman's Belly.
nycritic13 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Pregnancy is the time in a woman's life that, despite the hormone imbalance and the emotional changes, is charged in an overwhelming among of love and support and the notion that she is slowly gestating a human life, male or female, a child that will bring her (and her family) happiness. Motherhood has been depicted as beautiful, symbolic, Woman being Creation in progress in ancient cultures, a Thing to venerate and respect and even worship, Something capable of ensuring the continuation of a family line, a tradition, and hence, life and culture for an entire strata of society. Nothing is supposed to go wrong, or at least, not at the level of what happens to Rosemary Woodhouse's pregnancy, which is the ultimate wrong thing.

What Ira Levin seems to want to tell us in this "plot" surrounding Rosemary's pregnancy is that society and its religious tradition can be substituted by something much more sinister, as-yet unseen but gestant -- the force of will, the creation of Man's own version of what he believes will be the new wave of humanity. Is God dead? Well, considering the timing of the novel and the movie with society's disillusionment with Establishment, the onset of Vietnam, the loss of innocence of a country just years ago with the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, He just as well may be. Religion and religious figures pop up during the movie, but seem unable to bring any comfort and only add to the vague sense of unease that permeates ROSEMARY'S BABY.

And this nagging unease is precisely what both author and director give us: something not quite, completely there, something that seems to be happening just off-limits, barely overheard through the flimsy walls which divide these prewar apartment buildings converted into chic, livable spaces. The way the banal elements that are so much a part of our lives are overthrown so subtly makes the horror that is the movie's denouement even more tragic. Surely the nice neighbors can't be more than just that -- they're so helpful... well, maybe a little too helpful. Surely the death of that girl Rosemary befriends was just a freak suicide. Surely the doctor's recommendations for Rosemary are the best -- don't doctor's always know what's good for us? And surely, one's own partner would not have done the unthinkable in order to advance professionally now, would he?

Paranoia of the unseen is a powerful way to tell a horror story without ever giving away any shock cuts or showing the boogeyman. While it becomes abundantly clear early on that this is a story of witchcraft of the worst kind, the only time some of it makes its way in front of the camera is in the extremely stylized ritual/rape scene, and even then, since Rosemary is having what might be the worst nightmare of her life, one isn't quite sure of what is happening, and of course, in the end, when all is revealed in a comic yet horrific way. That takes skill in a storyteller and what makes ROSEMARY'S BABY so completely disturbing even now, almost forty years from its release unto the public. Also the fact that it never relies on a twist ending so common today but on the nuanced performance of the actors portraying real urbanites enhances: from Mia Farrow who carries the movie and even at the end retains a resigned innocence to her fate once her suspicions are facts to John Cassavettes who plays his part slimy straight, and supporting actors Ruth Gordon and Sydney Blackmer who have the hard task of making kindly and eccentric hide sinister just underneath. Their performance makes you wonder who exactly are your neighbors, and if they might be harboring some deadly lifestyle, and makes you feel uneasy being alone even in an empty hallway or accepting anyone's offered smoothie.
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A Landmark Horror film
haristas1 November 2002
"Rosemary's Baby" is one of the best horror films ever made. This isn't because it's going to scare the pants off you with a series of sensational jolts. This isn't the shallow, gimmicky kind of horror movie we mostly get these days, and it isn't the traditional old-fashioned horror film of an earlier era. This is a movie that came out during a period of transition in Hollywood. The old production codes were breaking down and films could suddenly be more true to life in the way they showed how people really lived, acted and talked. 1968s "Rosemary's Baby" is a more sophisticated, less elegant thriller of the kind that Alfred Hitchcock patented, but it displays much more class and intelligence than the horror movies that would come out in its wake. Popular '70s films such as "The Exorcist" and "The Omen" are the prodigy of "Rosemary's Baby," but offer far less nuance and much greater vulgarity. What we get here is a more naturalistic depiction of modern life, but without the crassness that would soon explode into American cinema.

Most of the credit for what makes "Rosemary's Baby" such a successful film goes to Roman Polanski. Polanski is a master at conveying to an audience not just a sense of the uncanny but a vivid depiction of it. His earlier films like "Knife in the Water," "Repulsion" and "Dance of the Vampires," display the talents that would come to such a controlled mastery in "Rosemary's Baby."

Polanski very faithfully adapts Ira Levin's novel to the screen so that the viewer is, just as the reader was, free to interpret the eerie events of the story as either reality or a depiction of an isolated woman's decent into madness. At the same time the picture can be taken as a black joke on the human male's fears of the changes a woman goes through during pregnancy, both physically and emotionally. But Polanski seems most interested in presenting a normal world, in this case Manhattan in the mid 1960s, and then through subtle cinematic techniques get an audience to actually believe that the hysterical, fantastic ravings of the heroine could be true. It is this tour de force exercise in suspension of disbelief that makes the film a classic. The horror films that have come since have had to ratchet up the shock effects in order to thrill more desensitized audiences, but this deliberately paced film reminds us of how much better it is to leave things to the imagination of the viewer. That is where films really come alive and remain so.

The Paramount DVD presents an excellent print of the movie that looks as if it were shot yesterday, along with extras that include new interviews with Polanski, executive producer Bob Evans and production designer Richard Sylbert, and a featurette from the time of the film's original release that really works as a good time capsule.
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Flawless Horror Masterpiece
alvinatth4 September 2007
Rosemary, in Mia Farrow's performance, is so immediately recognizable that everything that happens to her, happens to us. Her explanation to Dr Hill (Charles Grodin) about the absurdity she's at the center of, is so brilliantly written that she becomes more than just one of us, she becomes us in all the depth of our unspoken fears. To see this film in 2007 is really amazing. Perfection! And that for our benefit. Polanski is not one of those directors who concocts camera tricks to feed his own ego. Everything is at the service of the story. John Cassavettes is a scarily convincing weakling with an ambition bigger than his talent. Ruth Gordon got, what I, in my modest opinion, consider one of the most deserving Oscars in the history of the Oscars. Her performance is beyond superb. Okay, I'm running out of superlatives but let me finish with one more...Roman Polanski is the greatest.
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In a word, outstanding.
oyason19 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
There are only a tiny handful of horrorfilms that really deserve the superlative outstanding, but Rosemary's Baby is definitely on my personal list and damn near the top of the column.

Elements of the supernatural are present; the murderous coven, the devil come to earth, the use of juju to destroy the enemy. But all of these things are at nothing compared to the real horror in Rosemary's life: that she is nothing more then a gestation vessel for her ambitious husband, the gory eccentrics in her building, and the most powerful demon in the Christian pantheon. No one takes her seriously in any other capacity. Even at the end, her last bit of resistance is broken down as Roman Castavet eases her into the role of the "mother of destruction".

I don't think it's any coincidence that Ira Levin wrote this novel or that it became such a huge hit in the sixties, when birth control pills became household words and the first open battles for legal abortion were being waged and won. The strength of this film is that it deals with social issues (reproductive rights) that were actively bouncing between the ears of the greater population of this country, and yet still doesn't become a tedious piece of social realism or agitprop.

The cast of the film is remarkable. Mia Farrow plays a woman protagonist who is far more self identified then the usual female victim in a Gothic, Guy Cassevetes plays a treacherous husband whose actions are beneath contempt, both performances are very precise. The film bounces adroitly from the high camp of Elija Cook's fastidious building superintendent to the great white fatherliness seen in Maurice Evan's character Hutch. The use of Ruth Gordon is inspired, having Sidney Blackmer play straight man to her zaniness even more so. The very fine comedienne Patsy Kelly shows up as a more obstreporous member of the coven, Ralph Bellamy is sedate and subdued as the suave warlock Sapperstein. And somehow or other, director Roman Polanski managed to tie all these energies together and create a solid, consistent package with a subdued pace that is both hysterical and chilling at the same time. It is one powerful satire.

Finally, the film contains one very strong nightmare sequence. Dreams are scary, Neil Gaiman reminds us,but there are few portrayed on film as strikingly as the one Rosemary has under a drug induced slumber on the night of her demonic group rape and the child's conception.

Rosemary's Baby is a magnificent effort. And I believe it set a standard that every new horror film should be measured against, just as the film 2001 has become for many admirers of science fiction one of the benchmarks of that genre.
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the best supernatural movie ever made?
triple829 April 2004
I'm not sure about that but Rosemary's baby has got to be one of the best, if not the best, psychological supernatural thrillers ever made. The real test of a good movie(or one of them) is can it hold up to multiple viewings? In this case-oh yes.

I cannot even count how many times I have seen this. A good-really good-"scary movie" must have more then the ability to merely scare, it must have the ability to haunt. Rosemary's baby is a movie where certain scenes become etched in memory. Movie as good as book which is almost a non existent thing.

This is not a slow moving picture at all or at least I don't see it as one. What this movie does, as does another Levin creation, Stepford wives, is lure you in. There maybe moments that are not scary but as it goes on and you keep watching you start to get more and more creeped out-the atmosphere is what does it-even if someone were tuning in and didn't know this story already-the creepy feeling that something's very wrong is still there strongly from the beginning, strengthening in tone as you get deeper into the picture until by the end and the final few scenes your blown away.This is definitely more subtley and atmospherically creepy then a "boo" in your face scare fest like "scream". It is the type of movie you very rarely see anymore.

If anyone, by chance has NOT seen it they are missing someone-I don't recall seeing this in the IMDb top 250-while I'm not sure I'd put it in my top 10, I still think this maybe should be there, in IMDb'S top 250, it's been an influence on so many other movies and so few movies have been able to follow the movie's lead in the same well done way.
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"Awful things happen in every apartment house"
Steffi_P26 November 2006
Rosemary's Baby was originally proposed as a project to Alfred Hitchcock. He turned it down, and instead it fell to the up-and-coming Polish director Roman Polanski. It's hard to imagine what the master of suspense would have made out of this tale of devil worship and Catholic guilt, even though there is some Hitchockian psychology and mystery at work. As it was however, it proved to be right up the young Polanski's street, taking his career to new heights, and spawning a run of occult horrors in the late 60s and early 70s, of which this is still one of the few greats.

Polanski had already established himself as a director most comfortable with the confinement of interiors in films like Repulsion (1965). Here he draws us right into the claustrophobic feel of the upstairs apartment, often placing the camera in a room adjacent to the action, with the characters viewed through a doorway. The camera movement is mostly restricted to pans. It rarely tracks or dollys, as if it were trapped in a corner. Even in the exterior scenes the sky is often sandwiched or blotted out altogether between the buildings rising on either side. The actors often appear uncomfortably close to the camera, but not in individual close-up shots. Instead, they come in that close as they move around the set and the camera pans back and forth. Not only does this add to the cramped, awkward atmosphere, but this constantly changing distancing of actors within a single shots makes the audience feel as if they are actually standing there.

Rosemary's Baby may come across as very slow to some viewers. 140 minutes certainly is a long time in the horror genre. There do also appear to be a lot of unnecessary details in the dialogue – we get to find out far more about Rosemary's background than is normal for a character in cinema. But for one thing, Polanski was not interested in making a shock-and-gore horror – Rosemary's Baby is all about the eerie atmosphere, the tension and the mystery. He holds our attention by regularly dropping in clues that something sinister is afoot. Furthermore, all the detail and depth has its significance in the finished product – like the references to Rosemary's Catholic upbringing or the background of the Castavets.

Polanski has never overused flashy techniques – no fast editing, zooms or unusual angles that make for a very obvious directorial style. But there is always great complexity and meaning in the look of things – the set design, lighting, costume and so on. One of my favourite touches is Mia Farrow's extremely short Vidal Sassoon hairdo that she has done halfway through the film. With her bony features and pale skin she more and more begins to resemble a skeleton, especially under the carefully placed lighting in the scene after the party when she realises the pain has gone. It's simple yet significant ideas like that which make Polanski one of the best directors of his era.

There's some great casting in this picture. Careful choice of character actors makes for some quirky supporting roles. Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes are perfect in the lead roles. The musical score – that haunting opening melody, or the atonal violin squeaks – all add to the atmosphere.

Rosemary's Baby is a real landmark in horror. It helped keep the genre alive by pushing the occult - something fairly taboo, and not fully explored in cinema since the days of silents - to the fore. Also the restrained atmospheric horror was doubtless influential, particularly on Kubrick when he came to make The Shining. It inspired a lot, but was rarely bettered.
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Truly terrifying
ginger_sonny27 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Roman Polanski's horror classic is literally pregnant with paranoia. Mia Farrow gets an iconic cropped 'do, John Cassavetes broods

Halfway through Polanski's classic psycho-horror, Rosemary (Farrow) decides to chop off her bob. Not since Delilah took to Samson's barnet has a haircut signalled such a decline.

It's at that moment that Rosemary's slump into madness begins. She's pregnant, she's in love with husband Cassavetes, and living in a beautiful new apartment. But a burning pain in her womb tells her something's not right. Why are her elderly neighbours so concerned? Why has hubby's career suddenly blossomed? Surely her memory of being raped by Satan was just a dream?

Ira Levin's story erodes Rosemary's sanity drip by drip. A pierced ear, a foul smelling charm, a chocolate mousse with a chalky flavour, these are the unlikely fertilisers of her paranoia. In Polanski's hands their significance remains chillingly ambiguous as he explores the natural alienation of pregnancy. Truly terrifying.
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Truly Creepy and Demonic
Macabro11 June 2000
This is definitely one of the best horror films ever made. The conspiracy that Rosemary goes throughout the film is truly creepy. What makes it so scary is that she goes trusting her husband and 'friends' without any idea of what really is happening to her. The rape scene is horrifying, very intense and at its best for the horror genre. "Rosemary's Baby" is a great horror film, there are no posessions, no gore, but the film is intense in content. It has power to make the audience nervous, tense and very scared. -********** A perfect 10.
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An Authentic Classic
chimera315 September 2017
I forget exactly when I saw this movie but I will say this: I was a kid when I saw it, quite literally, maybe 9 or 10. My mom spoke very highly of this movie and actually sat down with me to watch it way back when. She told me a few things here and there while we were watching it but I wanted to see it for myself without absorbing the little hints that she was dropping to me. By the time the movie was done, I wanted to rewind it (yes, I watched it on video tape) and watch it again. It is definitely one of those movies that draws you in and never lets go. Ira Levin (may he rest in peace) knew what he was doing when he wrote the book to this. I highly recommend it to anyone, although it doesn't really matter what order you do it in, whether that's being watching it first and then reading it or reading it first and then watching it. Roman Polanski was a real master at terror and suspense back in the day, especially with this work of art. If you want an authentic horror classic that will beg you to watch it over and over again, pick this. You won't regret it.
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Nowadays, this film is an anomaly--a scary movie that uses atmosphere and suggestion, instead of gore.
Robert Hirschfeld20 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard to discuss this film without using spoilers, so I'll get the non-spoiler part done first. Seeing this movie a few decades after my first viewing only confirms my high opinion of Polanski as a brilliant director. In an age when most directors seem to confuse gallons of stage blood and severed body parts with scariness, it's refreshing to be reminded that the most frightening movies need not resort to the grand guignol technique. This one does it with subtle suggestions and carefully crafted atmosphere, and the result is infinitely more effective than the confections in which hideously scarred maniacs take chain saws to shoals of nubile coeds, etc., etc., etc. The acting is quite good throughout: Farrow embodies vulnerable innocence, Cassavettes nails his role, and Ruth Gordon is sublime--was this the film that revitalized her career? It certainly deserved to be. But the star of this film, in terms of who makes the biggest contribution, is Polanski. The end result is a wonderfully evocative and chilling movie that works as well now as it did in the late 60s. (HERE COME THE SPOILERS---IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE FILM, STOP READING HERE) Leaving aside the question of why people, even in a fiction, would believably choose to be Satanists, the great virtue of this movie is the way in which it progresses by gradual steps from a kind of super-normality into a nightmare. Polanski's touches--the shadowy corners of the elaborate old apartment, a fragment of a faded note written by the former tenant, the illustrations in the book on witchcraft that Rosemary gets from the newly deceased "Hutch"--the contrast between the banal, everyday world around the Woodhouses and the horror Rosemary is slowly but inevitably sucked all works. The whole, to my mind, is greater than the sum of its parts. I would say it can be called a genre classic.
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Terrifying; a timeless, paranoid classic
Mr_Ectoplasma30 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Rosemary's Baby" centers on Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse (Mia Farrow and John Cassavettes), a young, happy couple who move into a New York City apartment building to start their life together. They are greeted by their elderly neighbors, Minnie and Roman Castevet (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer), an eccentric and friendly couple who are helpful but a bit intrusive. Rosemary and Guy plan on having a baby together, but the conception is strange and seems to have happened while Rosemary was dreaming. All the while, Minnie and Roman seem to form an unusual relationship with Guy, and begin to take over all the duties and events revolving around Rosemary's pregnancy - things that should be up to the mother. Meanwhile, Rosemary begins to lose weight, is constantly ill, and has odd pains in her stomach - things that aren't normal in a healthy pregnancy. After a series of strange events, Rosemary soon becomes convinced that Minnie and Roman are part of a Satantic cult, and that they have made some sort of exchange with Guy... a horrific exchange that involves Rosemary and her baby.

Maybe one of the greatest stories of betrayal to grace the silver screen, this adaptation from Levin's phenomenal novel is done neatly and the transfer to the screen is brilliant. The film, like the book, takes its time, but the slow-going nature gives plenty of room for formidable suspense and atmosphere.

One of the scariest things about "Rosemary's Baby" is its affect on the viewer. The paranoia, fear, claustrophobia, and foreboding that Rosemary feels channels directly to the audience, and you by proxy experience what she's experiencing. The first forty-five minutes or so seem fairly conventional, but after that the film goes into a straight downward spiral into madness, and by God do you feel it. There's a consistent sense of something not being quite right, mainly with the neighbors whose motives are questionable behind their friendly facade, and this feeling never dissipates. Within the element of the betrayal are the layers of subjects that make it a horror film— the Satanic society, the occult, strange rituals, the Antichrist, and the overall demonic subtext. It's all quite terrifying, and the contents of the plot are all sinister subjects.

The film looks amazing, as if it could have been shot just last week. Nice camera-work that is subtle and neat, but shaky and effective when needed. The settings are all truly spooky, and the Dakota is is photographed to its full Gothic effect.

Mia Farrow stars in the performance of her career as the young, naive Rosemary. All she wants is the ideal life with her husband and child, but she is swept into something more terrifying than she could ever imagine. Farrow plays the part precisely and gains plenty of sympathy from the audience. Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for her portrayal of the Woodhouse's nosy neighbor, Minnie. She's friendly and inquisitive, but we know from the start that she has ulterior motives, as well as her husband. John Cassavettes plays Guy excellently, and Sidney Blackmer is great as well as Minnie's odd husband.

As for the ending, it's a shocker, and probably the most memorable thing about the entire movie. It's something that will stick with you and that you can't easily shake, but is ambiguous enough to keep you asking questions.

Overall, "Rosemary's Baby" is a through-and-through classic. While it isn't 'scary' by conventional means, it manages to maintain a subtle, foreboding atmosphere, unnerving the audience to the point of paranoia. The performances are top-notch, and the subject matter is as shuddering as the Castevet's dark, evil intrusion into Rosemary's life. You'll spend an uncomfortable but spellbinding two hours on the edge of your seat. Isn't that what a good horror movie should do? 10/10.
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A dark jewel of-a-movie in the Age of Aquarius's occult crown
Roman James Hoffman28 July 2012
What does it mean to give a movie 10/10? It must mean that no part of the film could possibly(!) be better: the characters must be three-dimensional and engage the viewer (whether it be sympathetic or antagonistic); the performances must then bring these characters to life; the script must carry the plot without stale verbiage or cliché; the story itself must be believable or, in the case of horror or science fiction, create the conditions wherein the story can be seen as believable; the editing must make it not a scene too long nor a scene too short; the music must be…and you get the point, right? On each of these points, as well as any other you care to mention, 'Rosemary's Baby' easily qualifies.

Having established himself as an up-and-coming European director in the 1960s with the likes of his debut 'Knife in the Water' (1962), Roman Polanski was brought to America to direct this horror movie about a secret society of Devil worshippers composed of wealthy and distinguished citizens manipulating a young woman into giving birth to the child of Satan in late-60's New York. The film is the second part of Polanski's so-called "apartment trilogy" (the other parts being 'Repulsion (1965)' and 'The Tenant' (1976)) and as such begins with a shot of the Bramford apartment building (in reality the Dakota building which would later be the building John Lennon was shot in front of) which struggling actor Guy Woodhouse (Cassavetes) and his beautiful young wife Rosemary (Farrow) manage to bag a sizable apartment in. Despite being regaled with macabre stories of the history of the "Black Bramford" from their previous landlord/paternal figure Edward "Hutch" Hutchins the couple move in to begin their new life and soon strike up a relationship with an elderly couple, Minnie (Gordan) and Roman Castevet (Blackmer), after a young drug addict in their care kills herself. Not long after (and with the "help" of a dizzying dream/nightmare sequence which is far more authentic than the famed Dali sequence in Hitchcock's 'Spellbound') Rosemary becomes pregnant…but her jubilation is short-lived and soon transforms into a disturbing paranoid nightmare.

For a horror film it is refreshingly free of gore or ridiculous "jump-moments", and instead slowly chills the viewer through an atmosphere which becomes increasingly unnerving and claustrophobic as Rosemary discovers various clues which suggest that the Castevets may be involved in the darkest of dealings, and may have lured Guy into their ranks. However, the film perfectly walks the line between suggesting an actual conspiracy (supernatural or otherwise) and a hysterical paranoid fantasy on Rosemary's part which is surely a testament to the fine performances of every one of the cast. A particular joy of the film are the countless "Oh yeah" moments you get from corroborating, upon repeat viewings, observations made by Rosemary like the mismatched paintings on the walls of the Castevets' apartment when they first visit, or that Guy is still wearing his make-up when he returns home unexpectedly early to disrupt Hutch's visit, all of which contribute to Rosemary suspecting that something is afoot. These subtle psychological ploys unsettle the viewer as they suggest things which we are prone to miss despite being in plain sight and effectively conjures an atmosphere rooted in the familiar but where disturbing figures may be watching from the periphery.

A year later, Polanki's wife Sharon Tate would star in the role which would earn her pop-culture immortality: a butchered victim of Charles Manson's family. As such, with its explicit occult themes (although Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey's involvement as a consultant and the figure of the Devil in the dream sequence has been shown to be false) and its exultant subversion of Nietzsche's "God is Dead!" the film could be seen as an eerie prophecy of the darker vein inherent in the flower-power ideology which ended so abruptly with the Tate-LaBianca slayings…and the post-script of which would be with Lennon's murder outside the Bramfo…Dakota building. Polanski himself would go on to secure his Hollywood A-List status with 'Chinatown' (1974) and 'The Pianist' (2002), but how can one's career improve upon a movie genuinely worthy of 10/10?
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A scary slice of paranormal paranoia
moonspinner5512 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Young marrieds in New York City--he a Broadway hopeful, she a contented housewife--get the apartment of their dreams, but the wife is uncomfortable with her new neighbors right from the start. Mia Farrow is incredibly genuine as Rosemary Woodhouse; present in just about every scene, Farrow is handled exactly right by director Roman Polanski, who shows an unerring eye for detail. Polanski, who also adapted the screenplay, apparently loved the book by Ira Levin because there are details on the screen taken straight from Levin's pages (the book now reads like a novelization of the film). Some of my favorite scenes: Rosemary, looking at the belongings left behind by the last tenant of her future apartment, seeing a note that reads, "I can no longer associate myself...", asking the manager, "Why would she cover up her vacuum cleaner and her towels?"; Rosemary dreaming about a mistake she made in Catholic school, confusing it with an argument going on next door and hearing her neighbor's braying voice, "Now we have to start all over!"; John Cassavetes (in a brave performance as Guy) rushing home from the theater, nervous and serious, to pull a fast one on a dear friend; Rosemary staring at her neighbor's pierced ear, the music swelling up in the background; Rosemary in her doctor's office, telling the receptionist she's wearing a new perfume ("Detchema") and finding out her smelly usual (a devilish fungus called "Tannis Root") is a favorite of... It's a stunning, stupendous effort with plush production, a fantastic supporting cast, creepy music from Christopher Komeda (with a title theme la-la-la'ed by Farrow herself) and an incredible amount of cunning wit and the blackest kind of humor.
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Favorite movie OF ALL TIME must see!!
s_ano28 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Growing up my mother wouldn't watch it with me because "it makes a mother's worse nightmare a real thing" I never understood until I actually got around to watching it. Obviously, the plot of this movie would NEVER happen in real life, but that doesn't make the fear any less real. This movie is SO LONG. The beginning kind of drags, you can tell this lovely couple's new neighbors are kind of off, but I chalked it up to weird old people doing what they do best... making people uncomfortable. Throughout the movie you watch as the couple tries for a baby, conceives, goes through the pregnancy (which is no easy task for this poor soon-to-be mom) and finally the birth and disappearance of that child. There is really no way top really encompass the movie and the emotions I felt while watching it. I think everyone should watch this movie. In my opinion, it is truly the best suspense-thriller I've ever seen, and nothing will ever be able to top it.
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Rosemary's baby
Kourosh Jahani31 July 2013
While Rosemary's Baby is often dubbed a horror film, the contemporary viewer may find that generic attribution confusing. Due to its slow pace and reliance on less-traditional formal tools to create suspense, Rosemary's Baby, like Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980), is best described as a psychological thriller or suspense story. Polanski's film, adapted from a novel by Ira Levin, isn't furnished with bloody murders and shocking off-screen entrances. Rather, what makes Rosemary's Baby terrifying is the sense of inevitability. Yes, this inevitability not only manifests itself in the plot, as Rosemary is incapable of stopping the plans set in motion by her neighbors, but from the audience as well. Polanski cues us in to the cult's true intent quite early with the aid of surrealistic dream sequence, so we're aware of Rosemary's potential fate far sooner than she is. Hitchcock once described the difference between surprise and suspense as involving the knowledge of the audience, concluding that in order to fully capitalize upon suspense, "the public must be informed."
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One of the Best Movies Ever
tommmk5 January 2013
It should come as no surprise that "Rosemary's Baby" ranks in the top 250 on IMDb; I, however, would rank it even higher than the general public does. It's the kind of film you can watch occasionally over the years and enjoy each and every time, i.e., a classic. Technically the film is brilliant, with superb cinematography, editing, music, acting, art design, and masterful direction. Polanski captures the timeless essence of New York, at least as I remember it, even though the setting is unmistakably the 1960s, and the milieu is literally diabolical. Depending on how you look at it, you can enjoy the film as a supernatural thriller or as a psychological thriller and study in paranoia. I especially love the dream sequences, which have a surreal beauty and nightmarish logic of their own.
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If this doesn't scare you...
quin19741 January 2001
I had heard a lot about this movie for a long time but I had not had the chance to see it until recently. And I must say that at first I wasn't that impressed. For the first 30-40 minutes not a lot of stuff seemed to happen, but after the truly horrifying rape scene (a great depiction of "was-it-a-dream or reality") I was bolted to my couch watching the enchanting Mia Farrow grow more and more into the frenzy of thinking she is impregnated with the child of Satan himself. I am now convinced that I should go see this movie again to catch all the details director Roman Polanski must have put in those first 30-40 minutes.

Like in other movies in Polanski's early work (i.e. Knife In The Water) this was so well-paced that as a watcher you are lured into this false sense of security just like Rosemary is, but underneath horrible things are happening to her that are unspeakable.

Another thing about this film was the feel to it. I was convinced that this movie was made in 1978 or something but later on I checked my Maltin guide and read that it was actually from 1968! How's that for a surprise. This looks and feels like a seventies film but it's not!

The role of Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castavet was played to perfection to once again give the audience that feeling that such nice neighbours would not be capable of doing something so horrible and give us the dilemma in which we are driven to thinking that it is Rosemary who is dillusional and is making all this up. A deserved Oscar for this lady.

Sheer brilliance, a definite must have on DVD.

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tedg15 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

This is absolutely the most terrifying film ever made dealing with supernatural evil. Forget `The Exorcist,' that's kid stuff. Forget the hundreds of `jumping out of the dark' gore pictures. `The Shining'? effete. This has guts like the old horror radio shows used to because I can imagine something worse than anything you can make up and show with rubber and catsup.

And surprisingly, this film has aged well, even improved as the hippie era is now long gone.

Mia is preciously delicate, open. Her commitment to this film makes it real. One can feel her taking personal risks and this reflects on her character. Roman almost goes too far here, after `Repulsion,' walking the edge of suspense, slowly building, relentlessly restrained. He so eclipses Hitchcock in his camerawork; he so stamps this with a East European mystical surrealism that I wonder why this film is not more celebrated.

When `The Exorcist' came out five years later, the publicity machine made much of supernatural happenings on the set, in an attempt to make the film seem more real. But this film is damned creepy when you look at its history.

Many people were students of magick in those days, as part and parcel of spiritual exploration. Mia gets into this film rather by accident, has an affair with Polanski during it. Divorces her husband the singing thug and finishes the film. Goes to India with the Beatles, Donovan and Beach Boys to meditate, during which John and Paul write thirty songs based on Kabbalah. Inspired in part by Crowley.

This album inspires Manson to kill Polanski's wife, mistakenly thinking the house was occupied by someone close to the Beach Boys. Lennon takes up with Yoko directly on returning from India. Her interest in the occult leads her to the Dakota, where they keep their home until John is killed. During which period, Yoko has a parade of occultists and mystics, even the largest private US collection of Egyptian artifacts.

Polanski meanwhile makes the most powerful `Macbeth' ever filmed because of its emotional take on evil anarchy. Then he is exiled from the US. After a long dry spell and much preparation, makes `The Ninth Door.' which shows incredible understanding of the occult tradition in art, and his own role -- his current wife plays the supernatural agent of semiotic art. Pacing and direction refers to `Rosemary,' but is less confident, more frightened.

Jesus, scary enough for me.
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A mother and her baby !!!
avik-basu188914 September 2015
'Rosemary's Baby' is perhaps the most popular and well known Roman Polanski film after 'Chinatown'. The film is based on a novel of the same name by Ira Levin and it's the 2nd film in Polanski's 'Apartment Trilogy'. The film is about a married couple - Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse who move into the Bramford, a Manhattan apartment. They get introduced to a nosy and odd neighbouring couple - The Castevets who start intruding in their lives a lot. Finally when Rosemary gets pregnant, she starts becoming more and more suspicious about the neighbours as well as her husband.

Polanski had already made 'Repulsion' in 1965 which was the 1st film in his 'Apartment Trilogy' and his 1st film in the English language. But 'Rosemary's Baby' was his first big-budget film and this was also the 1st big-budget Hollywood horror film. But like a true product of its time, it still had the audacity to have ambiguity as one of its qualities unlike the big-budget Hollywood studio productions of the current era. Like 'Repulsion', this film can also be interpreted in many different ways.

The first way to interpret it will be to view it as a work on female liberation. This was made in the 60s when the feminist movement was finally starting to have some impact. One can view the film and opine that Polanski is showing how a woman is being dominated by others and others' opinions are being forced upon her during her pregnancy when all the decisions should rest with her. She starts becoming more and more distant from her husband due to the fact even he fails to understand her mindset and starts dominating her.

The second way to interpret the film will be to take everything literally. The viewer can decide to not go too much into subtexts and themes and take the film for what it is and get immersed in this interesting story of a woman and her pregnancy.

The third way to interpret the film will be to view it as an allegory on how women can seem excessively paranoid and whimsical during pregnancy from a male point of view.

The fourth way to interpret it will be to view the film as the struggle of a woman with a Catholic background to adjust herself to the new and changing society of the 1960s, a decade during which non-conformism and counterculture became a craze. Her paranoia gets the better of her and she begins to fear the prospect of bringing a new child to a world and a society which is straying away from her beliefs and so she tries to distance herself and her unborn baby from all folks that she suspects to have 'questionable' beliefs and faiths.

The beauty of the screenplay written by Polanski himself, is that it facilitates all the interpretations that can be possible. The screenplay is open and provides hints and scopes for viewers to take the film and accept in their own way. I especially loved the ending of the film as I think it is a beautiful tribute to mothers and motherly love.

Another very important aspect of the film is the style of storytelling. Polanski uses surrealism with some dream sequences that are truly weird and effective. Just like 'Repulsion', Polanski blurs the distinctions between what is real and what is being imagined by using a paranoid and sort of unreliable narrator as the whole film is from the point of view of Rosemary who is in pretty much every scene.

Mia Farrow is absolutely brilliant as the titular Rosemary. She looks incredibly gaunt and petite in the film to underline her fragility. She beautifully pulls off the transition from being sweet and gullible to being flat out paranoid. I also loved Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet. She richly deserved the Oscar that she won for this role. She is dynamite in every scene she is in. She puts in a method performance so brilliantly that the viewer is always guessing whether to believe her or not.

'Rosemary's Baby' is a very influential horror film. It uses psychological horror to explore deeper themes without resorting to cheap scares, but it still is pretty disturbing. This film is an absolute masterpiece which I can't recommend highly enough.
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