239. Rosemary’s Baby

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Movie: Rosemary’s Baby

Release Date: June 12, 1968

Director: Roman Polanski

Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy.

Tag Lines: “It’s not what you’re expecting.:

“Conceived in terror, born in fear.”

“Pray for Rosemary’s Baby.”

Relevance: My memory of watching ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ for the first time is a bit foggy, perhaps due to my old age finally kicking in or perhaps due to the power of Satan himself. In all honesty, I’m an atheist. Contrary to popular belief by some Christians that does not automatically make me a satanist. I actually don’t believe in any imaginary creatures, good or evil. But just like I can enjoy a movie about God and heaven (see 246. Heaven Can Wait), I can also enjoy a movie about Satan and hell. I’m all about equality after all.

I was definitely pre-teen when I first watched the movie but unfortunately I don’t recall the exact year. Maybe 1980 or 1981? Although it could have been earlier. Like I said, the details are foggy. What I do remember is that there was a television program on one of our local stations, pretty sure it was an ABC affiliate, that basically showed a movie. Unfortunately the name of said program escapes me. There was a host, I think it was a daily program and I am pretty sure it was on pre-dinner hours, possibly 4pm to 6pm. There was usually a theme to the week, like comedy or horror. I do remember a “Monster” week where I caught up on all Godzilla and King Kong movies. Regardless of my lack of specific information, I know that was when I first watched ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ The details may be sketchy, but the movie’s impression was long lasting.

I was always a fan of horror movies. My mom on the other hand, despised them, but that never stopped her from letting me watch them. I would just usually get a comment like, “Don’t come to me crying if you can’t sleep tonight,” as she walked out of the living room. So while my mom prepared dinner in the kitchen, I watched Mia Farrow. I only knew it was Mia Farrow because my mom told me. She liked her as an actress, just not in ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ I remember being completely in awe of the movie because it wasn’t your typical horror film, but still incredibly creepy. At that time, I was all about God, saints and the devil, so it actually scared the shit out of me. I did not sleep that night. I also did not tell my mom I didn’t sleep. I didn’t want her to think I couldn’t handle a horror movie and I most definitely wanted to keep watching them.

I have watched ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ numerous times throughout the years. Because of the film, I read the novel by Ira Levin on which it was based and eventually read the sequel called “Son of Rosemary.” The movie was my introduction to the psychological horror film genre, and for that I am completely thankful.

Today’s Thoughts: There is nothing like waking up at six in the morning and watching a movie about a bunch of Satan worshipers in the late 1960’s. But that is what I did today. And it was a most enjoyable way to spend over two hours this morning.

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ plays more like a psychological drama in 2020 then when I first watched it, but the ending still induces chills on the back of my neck. I guess regardless of your beliefs or lack thereof, hearing “Hail Satan” at the end of the film is very creepy, especially after taking that journey with Rosemary Woodhouse, brilliantly played by Mia Farrow. She is totally committed to that character and her performance is both chilling and heartbreaking. Ruth Gordon as Minnie is also a standout in the cast. Her comedic timing is only equaled to her creepiness. The balance she displays between both is very convincing and her Academy Award is well deserved.

However it is Roman Polanski’s direction that takes this film and elevates it to the status of “classic” and a serious work of art. He easily evokes menace and terror in the subtlest of ways and captures the horror aspects without the use of explicit violence or gore. His dream sequence while the main character is being “raped” by Satan jumps between real and surreal so quickly, it leaves the audience feeling very uneasy. The director’s intent I am sure.

As I have mentioned, I was and always will be a fan of horror. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is one of twenty-three films from that genre on my list of most influential movies of all time. It’s just as enjoyable as ever to watch and comes highly recommended.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Ruth Gordon (winner), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Roman Polanski (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress, Ruth Gordon (winner), Golden Globe for Best Actress – Drama, Mia Farrow (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Roman Polanski (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Score, Krzysztof Komeda (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actress, Mia Farrow (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Roman Polanski (nomination), National Film Registry (2014), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Drama, ROman Polanski (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, DVD Availability.

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