37. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Directed by Roman Polanski

Written by Roman Polanski

Produced by Michael Castle

Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavets, Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer

Country: United States

Release date: June 12, 1968

Running time: 136 minutes

Why you should wash it?

This movie is based on the best selling 1967 novel Rosemary’s baby by Ira Levin. This is one of my favorite movies, this is a quite macabre film filled with an eerie sense of humor.

This is Roman Polanski’s first american film. This film portrait of the evil and horror, and how it can came in a  friendly, nice, warm and neighborly way. In the film we can see in the bright scenes hits and innuendos of the dark and horror behind the phantom of an american love story.

PLOT

Rosemary Woodhouse, a bright but somewhat naive young housewife, and Guy, her husband and a struggling actor, move into the Bramford, a New York City apartment building. Their neighbors, Minnie and Roman Castevet, are an elderly and slightly eccentric couple who tend to be meddlesome but appear to be harmless. Guy first loathes them but then becomes unusually close to the pair while Rosemary tries to maintain a distance from them.

Rosemary meets a young woman, Terry Gionoffrio in the basement laundry room, and Terry tells her she has been taken in and helped by the Castavets after sleeping on the streets and doing drugs. She says Roman and Minnie have been like grandparents to her. As Rosemary admires a pendant necklace the Castavets gave to Terry, she remarks on the strange smell which seems to be coming from the pendant, and Terry tells her it is from some kind of root. Returning home one night, Guy and Rosemary see a commotion and police on the street outside the Brampton; Terry has thrown herself from the window of the Castavets’ seventh-floor apartment. Minnie and Roman arrive, shocked by what has happened.

Guy lands a role in a play when the actor who was originally cast suddenly and inexplicably goes blind. Soon afterward, Guy suggests that he and Rosemary have the child they had planned. On the night they planned to try to conceive, Minnie brings them individual ramekins of chocolate mousse. Rosemary finds hers has a chalky under-taste and surreptitiously throws it away after a few mouthfuls. Shortly afterwards, she has a dizzy spell and passes out. Rosemary experiences what she perceives to be a strange dream in which there is a group of naked persons in their bedroom and then she is raped by a demonic presence. The dream is so , and when she wakes, she finds scratches on her body, and her husband tells her that he had intercourse with her while she was unconscious because he did not want to pass up the moment for her to conceive.

A few weeks later, Rosemary learns she is pregnant and is due on June 28, 1966. She plans to receive obstetric care from Dr. Hill, recommended to her by her friend Elise, but the Castevets insist she see their good friend, famed obstetrician Dr. Abraham Sapirstein who says that Minnie will make Rosemary a daily drink which is more healthy than the usual vitamin pills. Minnie also gives Rosemary a pendant similar to the one owned by Terry, telling her it is a good luck charm and the odd smell is from a plant called “tannis root”.

For the first three months of her pregnancy, Rosemary suffers severe abdominal pains, loses weight, becomes unusually pale and craves raw meat and chicken liver. The doctor insists the pain will subside soon and assures her she has nothing to worry about. When her old friend Hutch sees Rosemary’s gaunt appearance and hears that she is consuming the mysterious “tannis root” on a daily basis in Minnie’s health drink, he is disturbed enough to do some research.

On the day Hutch plans to share his findings with her, he mysteriously falls into a coma a few hours before their meeting, and dies three months later. After briefly regaining consciousness before his death, he has instructed the doctor to have a book about witchcraft, which he had left on his desk, be given to Rosemary. Grace Cardiff, a friend of his, decides to have the book delivered to Rosemary at Hutch’s funeral along with the cryptic message: “the name is an anagram”.

At the Castavets’ New Year’s Eve party, Roman raises an equally cryptic toast: “To 1966: the Year One.” Rosemary sees that Hutch has marked photographs and passages in the book. Using the clue given to her in the cryptic message, Rosemary deduces that Roman Castevet is really Steven Marcato, the son of Adrian Marcato, a former resident of the Bramford who was accused of being a witch and of worshiping Satan, and was a martyr to the cause. Rosemary suspects her neighbors are part of a cult with sinister designs on her baby, and that Guy is cooperating with them in exchange for their help in advancing his career. She deduces that Dr. Sapirstein is also part of the conspiracy when his receptionist comments that the smell coming from the good luck charm given to Rosemary by the Castavets, reminds her of a fragrance often used by the doctor.

Rosemary becomes increasingly disturbed and shares her fears and suspicions with Dr. Hill, who, assuming she is delusional, calls Dr. Sapirstein and Guy. They tell her that if she cooperates, neither she nor the baby will be harmed. The two men bring Rosemary home, at which point she briefly escapes them by spilling the contents of her purse, then hijacking the elevator as they gather the contents from the floor. They pursue her to the apartment, where Rosemary locks the door. A few moments later, they enter the bedroom, having somehow gained access. Rosemary goes into labor and is sedated by Dr. Sapirstein. When she awakens, she is told the baby died; however, she hears an infant’s cries somewhere in the building, and suspects he is still alive.

In the hall closet, Rosemary discovers a secret door leading into the Castevet apartment where the coven meets (and which explains how Guy and Dr. Sapirstein were able to enter the apartment after she chained the front door), and finds the congregation gathered around her newborn son. Seeing the disturbing appearance of her baby’s eyes and demanding to know what had caused the deformity, Rosemary is then told that Guy is not the baby’s father. The revelation that the baby, named Adrian, is actually the spawn of Satan horrifies Rosemary, who spits in Guy’s face when he approaches her. Roman urges Rosemary to become a mother to her son, and tells her she does not have to join the coven if she does not want to. The film ends with her adjusting her son’s blankets and gently rocking his cradle.

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