Saturday Editor’s Pick: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

by on September 4, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

Rosemary's Baby 1968 Polanski
Playing Sat Sept 10 at 5:00 and Sat Sept 24 at 1:30 at the Museum of Modern Art [Program & Tix]

Rosemary’s Baby back on the big screen? This is no dream — this is really happening!

Robbie Freeling for Reverse Shot:

Rosemary’s Baby is one of the few horror movies I can name that is so compelling in its minutiae, so perfectly structured, or sculpted, rather, and most importantly, such a completely realized portrait of recognizable humans caught up in a bizarre situation (from its hero to its many villains), that by the time its characters’ idiosyncrasies have been revealed as indicative of something far more sinister, we’re already emotionally invested enough that we dread rather than crave shocks.


As most agree, Roman Polanski’s effortless masterpiece perfectly mixes a paranoia thriller with the supernatural Satanic, while creating cinema’s most disturbing, persuasive pro-choice narrative (the true horror of the film comes from young Rosemary’s lack of control over her own body, which has been corrupted by nearly every person around her). What makes it special is in the telling: Polanski’s casual brilliance with narrative and space is matched by his adeptness at screenwriting here. With a few elegant strokes, entire back stories are sketched: Rosemary’s Catholic upbringing is portrayed only through abstracted dream sequences and her obvious discomfort at an anti-pope dinner party conversation; her husband Guy’s narratively crucial out-of-work-actor desperation not belabored upon but taken as a sly given; and Polanski wisely allows the creepy next-door Castavets to be almost wholly defined by the amusingly eccentric behaviors and mannerisms of Ruth Gordon (fussy, fidgety, nosy, aloof) and Sidney Blackmer (self-righteous, self-amused, with a piercing stare). These people (including Rosemary’s dapper elderly friend Hutch) are individually fascinating enough to each warrant their own film; all are utterly different in decorum, and their neuroses and needs bounce off of each other with ease.

A great suite of interviews with Polanski, production designer Richard Sylbert, and playboy producer Bob Evans (of The Kid Stays in the Picture fame)–in two parts:

Part two: Read More

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