Archive for Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary’s Baby – Body Language

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 17, 2008 by babydylan
Polanski had specific control over the body language and gestures within the film. On first viewing the audience may be surprised at the films ending, yet on second viewing these almost imperceptible devices can give away the conclusion, if they chose to read it that way.

There are the simple scenes mentioned earlier, the first being when the landlord dusts the usher at the beginning of the film (this is one of my favourite scenes) and soon after when the handyman glares at Guy, possibly because he thinks he is being stared at. Later on however, after Rosemary and Guy have had dinner at The Castevets, they begin to eat their desert in a really ‘over the top’ fast way. It’s unnerving to watch, and it unknowingly puts you on edge.

Later on the same night, after Rosemary has finished helping Minnie Castevet wash up from dinner, she interrupts Guy and Roman having a conservation. Look closely at Guys face. He seems shocked, and he is staring at Roman with wide upon eyes as though he‘s just been told something unbelievable. After, when Rosemary mentions to Guy that the Castevets had taken their pictures down, he briefly pauses and his shoulders tense, as though he already knows the truth about them (it’s so brief that I could be imagining it, look for yourself and tell me what you think). When Rosemary’s friend Hutch meets Roman for the first time and Hutch begins to wonder about the ‘tannis root’ that Rosemary has been exposed to, Roman stares at Hutch with rapt attention, and he barely pauses to look at Rosemary. It’s actually a hard scene to watch when considering what happens to Hutch later on…..

Mother of the year

Mother of the year

Later in the scene, when Hutch asks Guy and Rosemary where his other glove has gone, Guy again tenses up and goes quiet, and every time something vital happens to them, such as when Guy finds out he has the acting role, when Rosemary finds out she is pregnant, and when she gets the lunch invitation from Hutch, Guy’s initial response is to always leave the house, to always ‘go for a walk’, and in reality, to always run to The Castevets.

One of three scenes that stand out is during the New Year’s party that Rosemary and Guy have attended, which is full of Roman and Minnie’s older, Satan worshiping friends. As they welcome in the New Year, one of the guests congratulates Dr. Saperstein, by telling him that 1966 will hopefully be a good and productive year. He lightly touches his nose and winks at Dr. Saperstein, subtly hinting his glee at their plan coming to fruition. Even after the seeing the picture so many times, I only just noticed this scene. This is an indicator of the multi-layered film Polanski has constructed.

Another is when Rosemary wakes up for the first time from her impregnation dream. The audience is looking at her scratched back, so they might not notice the way Guy tenses his hands and shuts his eyes, as though trying to get control after having done something he has trouble believing he did.

Another key scene is just after the party, and Rosemary begins to rejoice after feeling her pain stop, and finding out that her baby was still alive. She puts Guys hand and her stomach, to feel the baby moving, and he jerks away as though more scared than excited. I love that scene.


Rosemary’s Baby – Rosemary’s World

Posted in close analysis with tags , , on November 17, 2008 by babydylan

After seeing the film for the first time my initial reaction was to watch it all over again to better understand just how ‘absolute’ Rosemary’s naivety, and The Castavet’s immorality really was. I thought it was remarkable that two couples, who were just on polar opposites of the spectrum, could meet in the one place, and that the ‘good’ couple would eventually have their ‘goodness’ overridden by the ‘bad’ couple and their ‘badness’. Because of this, it would have to be understood how different their two different worlds were, hence Polanski must have stressed the rigidity of their two different worlds at various points in the film. The Bramford is after all, the scene of a showdown between good and evil, hence the good and evil sides must be understood.

Rosemary and Guy’s marriage is completely self-contained, meaning that they are oblivious in the beginning of the film to what is happening around them. In the opening scenes, Rosemary and Guy laugh at the African American usher who is ‘dusted’ by the caretaker, as though a piece of furniture, and a handyman glares at Guy when he thinks he is being ‘checked out’. These attitudes are a stark contrast to what eventually happens in the same building. If you wanted to read this much into it, you could say that The Bramford is Dante’s vision of Hell. One level contains small acts of racism. Another contains full blown devil worship. As I said though, it’s only if you wanted to read this much into it…..

As the film progresses, it becomes apparent just how subservient Rosemary is to Guy. She spends the day cleaning and outfitting their house, and when he arrives home from work, she automatically greats him with a sandwich and a drink (was this normal in the 60’s? I don’t know….I wasn’t alive then). It is her suggestion that they make love when in the new house, and the mechanical way in which he turns off the light and takes off his clothes suggests a lack of intimacy or affection between them, again a contrast to the previous scene. As the film progresses he begins to mistreat her, and is increasingly cruel – a contrast to the beginning scenes – and when he apologises to her later, she welcomes it, as though unable to be honest with him. Near the end of the film, when the camera cuts briefly to her bookshelf, we can see that her collection is comprised of ‘Self-help’ books about being a better wife, and how to better understand your husband, further emphasising her idealised view of married life. As she begins to learn the truth about her neighbours and friends, she becomes increasingly hysterical and frantic, as though only just comprehending what is happening. Guy’s behaviour, and the ease with which he makes the pact with The Castevets, suggests he has a history of being self-involved. Rosemary is naturally trusting and she instinctively puts Guy and others first, as highlighted by scenes of her welcoming her neighbours (even when she is wanting private time). She is completely shut off from reality, innocent and naïve and seemingly impervious to reality. Depressingly, this makes her an easy target. As Rosemary begins to slowly realise the truth, the ‘rigidity’ of the evil is gradually shown. This is accentuated by the final scene, when Rosemary’s maternal instincts begin to emerge. The camera draws back from the window, away from the Bramford, and across town, a juxtaposition to the opening credits (which had the camera pan across the city to rest on the apartment, as though ‘introducing‘ us to the Bramford, and the worlds within it). I love how the audience can be shown in one shot a horrible truth, and then Polanski can pull the camera away from the window, to have it pan across the city on such an idyllic day. This makes the evil so much scarier! It demonstrates to the audience that evil can exist in such a mundane setting lurking within potential domestic bliss. Bob Evans remarks that this is a horror film without horror, and he is right to an extent. It doesn’t have any of the token wam-bam editing that is the prerequisite for the latest batch of horror and torture porn films. Instead it has a much more nuanced approach using the subtly of the camera work and the acting choices to play on the audiences innate fears.

Rosemary’s Baby – The Perfect Horror.

Posted in close analysis with tags , , on November 17, 2008 by babydylan

A lecturer at uni once told me that – according to screenwriting ‘guru’ Robert McKee – the difference between a horror and a thriller was that a ‘horror’ film has to have an element of the supernatural, whilst a thriller always deals with a human threat. At risk of contradicting McKee and his apparent success it is obvious that this statement is not entirely true. Some of the iconic horror films, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Psycho, and to a lesser extent, The Hills Have Eyes, Friday the 13th (this is debatable due to that scary-as-a-mother-bitch moment when Jason jumps out of the water) and Last House on the Left, include murderers that are human. However other iconic horrors, such as The Exorcist, The Woman in Black, Carrie, and A Nightmare on Elm Street deal only with the supernatural. The better horror films are ones that can successfully combine threats, the human and the supernatural. The Shining is amazing because Kubrick combines the evil at The Overlook Hotel (something we aren’t ever sure is real until the end of the film) with the fear of isolation and the threat of betrayal by a family member (something which would unnerve even the most hard of audience).

Similarly, Rosemary’s Baby takes betrayal and a corrupt view of relationships (an idea auteur filmmaker Polanski is fastidiously obsessed with) and crosses it with the threat of evil. Perhaps I’m biased because I’ve had a Christian upbringing, but the threat of evil is so much more real and scary than the threat of a knife wielding maniac (I’m looking at you Scream and Saw, you mean nothing to me!). Polanski stated that his approach to directing is to put multiple layers within a film, meaning that one person may find one element more sad, scary, or funny than another because of a preoccupation they already have. “We see far less than we think we see because of past impressions we already stored in our minds” (Polanski 270). Hence evil is scarier to those who believe in its power.

Eugenes wet dream

Eugene's wet dream

Producer Robert Evans lured Polanski to America under the false pretext of directing Downhill Racer (a romantic comedy skiing film!) yet almost straight away Evans presented Polanski with a copy of the novel Rosemary’s Baby, because Evans knew that Polanski’s sensibilities would gravitate to such a unique story, such as it had with everyone else. After agreeing to direct the picture however, Polanski was adamant that he write the screenplay, so he could change the threat of evil, something which had been real and all knowing in the original novel, into something that could be a manifestation of Rosemary’s imagination. As he puts it, he wanted “a thread of deliberate ambiguity to run through the film.”

This was a stroke of genius. To some, the most frightening part of Rosemary’s Baby is when the audience begins to suspect that Rosemary has been betrayed by her husband and her new ‘friends’. To others, it is when they first hear the séance in the next apartment, and when she is impregnated in the dream sequence. Personally, I find the latter to be the scariest thing ever to be committed to screen, in the history of cinema. Ever.