If you haven’t already seen Rosemary’s Baby (it was released in the 1970’s so it’s not like this warning even makes sense), you may not want to read this review. I’ll try to warn you when I can.
Rosemary’s Baby, directed by Roman Polanski (academy award winning pedophile and statutory rapist), is brilliant. And it could not be made today.
It was produced in 1968 while Paramount was under the reign of Robert Evans. Under Evans’ eye, Paramount released such amazing classics as The Godfather, Chinatown and, of course, this film. It was the golden studio in the golden era of American filmmaking. Movies produced by major studios could have sad endings. Ugly people could play leading roles. Art was just as important, or at least more important, than your shareholders’ dividends.
The same held for music in the 70’s. Kid Rock, one who has happily cashed in on the lower standards of music fans today, said of the 70’s “People were uglier then but they made better music.”
This “better music”, this Rosemary’s Baby, was based on Ira Levin’s novel of the same name. It is such a pure and simple and wonderful premise that every writer must smack their forehead when they hear about it for the first time. Why didn’t I think of that?
Many people know the Christian story of the Immaculate Conception and subsequent Virgin birth of Christ. Levin simply flipped that script. He posited a non-Virgin birth of the Devil’s son. He constructed a fantastic negative of the Bible story. At first we don’t know why Rosemary’s pregnancy is so bizarre but the audience realizes it soon enough. And even though it’s evident before the disturbing reveal, the manner in which Polanski unveils all the clues is entertaining and brilliant as hell.
Farrow’s academy award winning performance is the amazing center of the movie. She nails the terrified and confused mother to be who is struggling to understand why everything is so strange. She doesn’t accept the tricks perpetrated by those around her and instead seeks out the real reason behind her trouble.
John Cassevetes, better director than actor, is fine as her husband. He didn’t stir me or have much heavy lifting. His only poignant moment comes at the end of the film and by then it seems it’s too late for him to make a big impression.
The scene stealer in the movie is Ruth Gordon. If you haven’t seen Harold and Maude, you are missing out on one of the finest films ever made. I’ll buy it and review it for this venerable website one day but suffice it to say, my review will declare it a Pre-Order, a classic of the highest magnitude. She plays another wacko in this film but unlike in Harold and Maude, she is not a wacko you like. She’s pure evil but with a weird old lady twist.
Polanski moves the movie along at a brisk pace and you’re never bored. It’s not a mystery because the audience pretty much knows what’s going on but Polanski always makes you doubt just a little bit. That manipulation is evil on his part but wonderful for the quality of the movie.
Get yourself to a delivery room.
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