March 08, 2016

Cutting Edges: Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary’s Baby
Figure 1: Movie Poster
Rosemary’s Baby is a 1968 film, directed by Roman Polanski. It is about a young woman called Rosemary, portrayed by Mia Farrow, who becomes pregnant after moving into her new apartment, which has an ominous, sinister reputation.
In Rosemary’s Baby, the colour yellow is exaggerated and repeated. In older religious terms, the colour yellow is associated with cowardice and betrayal, which are traits that we see from Rosemary’s husband, Guy. In more modern terms, the colour yellow is associated with the unknowingness of the baby’s’ sex. This could be representative of the unknowingness of the baby’s father, or if it even is a ‘baby’, and represents Rosemary’s underlying fears.
Rosemary and Guy are portrayed as very young, trendy people, who are very modern. We get a glimpse of this when Rosemary redecorates their new apartment, and paints all of the walls a sterile white, and refers to the layout of her kitchen as ‘something she had seen in a magazine’. Rosemary wears short dresses and coats in a style that was fashionable for the 1960’s, and her hair is always in a fashionable style. During the film she gets a very short hairstyle, to exaggerate her style, and also to exaggerate how skeletal she becomes. She gets the haircut as she becomes pregnant, and the drastic haircut may represent how she is stripped of her identity and her ability to look after herself.
Figure 2: Film Still

This portrayal of the new modern generation is purposefully excessive to show the stark contrast between the older generation, who have, for the film, been grouped together and stereotyped as all being part of a coven. This may be a comment on how society views older generations, and even now the elderly remain very separate and stereotypical to the younger generation. The significance that ancient evil, associated with old people, can still effect even the most modern of people.
We see so many divides and differences between old people and young, such as the contemporary white walls of Rosemary’s apartment, and the rich oak colour of the other apartment, belonging to the elderly people, who are stereotypically nosey and overly helpful.

The time in which the film was made, in the 1960’s, was a decade where women were encouraged to take control of their own bodies, it was the time where the contraceptive pill was introduced, and women started to want to be as equal as men. The way in which Rosemary was taken over and controlled by other people once she was pregnant, may be representative of the way people were still against women having a say in their own bodies, and it clear that even though Rosemary is the mother of the baby, it is not hers, and ‘belongs’ to the people around her who are trying to control and manipulate her.

“Polanski worked with an elegant restraint that less talented filmmakers have been trying to mimic ever since.” (Harris, 2009)

In this quote Harris describes Polanski’s style as restricted and elegant. This is not to mean that it is deprived of the tension and uneasiness other classic horrors have, but Polanski is not using cheap scares and jumps, but rather a build-up of tension and ambiguous storytelling.

“... a serious effort that gradually and carefully constructs a mounting sense of paranoia ...” (Biodrowski, 2008)
Biodrowski also expands upon the use of carefully constructed storytelling, the build up of emotion which we feel in these gradual scenes mount up and become something else, and make the film a thrilling horror which leaves audiences scared and with a feel of uneasiness.
The camera shots communicate well the feelings that Rosemary is experiencing, and we are always sympathising with her and not anybody else. We see many camera shots throughout the film, shot from a low angle, watching Rosemary’s small legs walk away from the camera, showing the audience how vulnerable she is.
Figure 3: Film Still
Another expressive camera shot is where the view is constrained and obstructed, such as through a keyhole or a hole in a door, showing us only what Rosemary sees and conveying a lack of information and unawareness of what is going on. We see intimate close ups of Rosemary’s face when it is a particularly emotional scene, and this projects to the audience Rosemary’s emotions and thoughts, and the audience becomes to feel more sympathetic for her. We feel Rosemary’s psychological state deteriorate and come to a low point when the camera is over her shoulder, while she shakily brandishes a knife. We see a normal looking scene of a party, but then the audience sees her madness as we become the one holding the knife up to the party.

Later in the film the camera shots become shaky, and showing Rosemary crying and becoming hysterical about a coven of witches and conspiracies against her, from a distant, isolated shot makes us question whether or not the things we have seen are real or not. The audience doesn’t know what to believe about what is going on. When we are out of the setting of her home, and when she is put into a new environment with a new character, we become conscious of how strange and crazy all the events that have taken place have been.
This is much like the film Susperia, in which we see disturbing happenings in one theatrical environment, and when the main character is taken out of that environment and put into a new modern setting in the real world, it all becomes a bit silly and ridiculous.
“Rosemary's Baby is one of most memorable horror classics ever filmed. Roman Polanski's film is the film responsible for many of the films dealing with the devil, most notably The Exorcist and The Omen.” (Roy, unknown)
In this quote Roy describes Rosemary’s Baby as one of the best horror films there is, due to its memorability. It becomes a classic because it does not become outdated, the themes explored are controversial and still current today, and continue to be explored upon in other films, most likely inspired by this one.


Figure 1: Anon, (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
Figure 2: Anon, (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
Figure 3: Anon, (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
Biodrowski, S. (2016). Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Horror Film Review. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
Rosemary's Baby. (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and well thought through review Becky :)
    Just a point about using your quotes more to their advantage - rather than referring to them as quotes, try and embed them into your writing. So, for example,

    “... a serious effort that gradually and carefully constructs a mounting sense of paranoia ...” (Biodrowski, 2008)
    Biodrowski also expands upon the use of carefully constructed storytelling...'

    would become something like,

    Biodrowski explains the storytelling as “... a serious effort that gradually and carefully constructs a mounting sense of paranoia ...” (Biodrowski,2016)