Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rosemary's Baby

This is hands-down one of my very favorite films ever made, and unlike some of the others, has real credibility, too. Roman Polanski definitely gets the job done, as does Ruth Gordon (as Minnie Castavet) who won the Oscar for best supporting actress in 1969. This isn't just a horror film, but an all-around brilliant piece of work. If you haven't seen the film and eventually plan to, this will be full of spoilers, just FYI.

Rosemary's Baby, 1968. Directed by Roman Polanski.
Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavettes, and Ruth Gordon.

"A young couple move into a new apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins controlling her life." (IMDB). 

Clearly the Satanists get all the press in this story, and don't get me wrong---you'll never see the elderly in a more unfavorable light, chanting, scurrying about, cheering "HAIL SATAN!", etc.---but the real enemy in this story has nothing to do with them. . . . it's Guy Woodhouse, y'all, the husband, the actor, the basic slime of humanity. In this film, he:

I dreamed someone was raping me. . .
1. Lies, constantly. "Are you a doctor?" "YES." Rosemary breaks in---"He's an actor." Later, after Rosemary's pregnancy is announced, he lies to her original obstetrician about moving to California. "You know me, I'll tell him something." Say nothing of the royal lie he feeds to Rosemary herself about what really went down during "baby night." Which is worse, admitting (as a husband) you've just rented out your wife's business to Satan for the evening (while an apartment full of creepy old people watched and chanted, *naked,*) or covering it up with a story about how you basically raped her while she was unconscious ("it was kinda fun, in a necrophile sort of way,")---she's just supposed to be all right with that? Nice moral fiber there, Guy.

2. Slaps ass, a lot, and not in a cute or, ugh, sexual way, either because it just makes him come off as an even bigger dick each time he does it. After the night in question, Rosemary, raped and scratched, struggles to awaken and suggests that Guy get his own breakfast . . . "LIKE HELL, I WILL!" he snaps back, smacking her hard on the ass. Insult to injury, much? What a fucker.

3. Agrees to allow his wife to become impregnated by Satan to further his acting career, and then basically resents her for it, refusing to really look at her after the pregnancy is confirmed, belittling her decisions (haircut, relationships with friends, suspicion that the old creeps are after her baby, etc.), ultimately treating her like a child or a crazy person. After the baby is born and taken from her (her doctor lies and tells her it died), Guy expects Rosemary to simply shrug it off as he's done, and focus on the many acting roles that have suddenly popped up . . . in perhaps the most dismissive moment in the entire film, he tells her, "You can have more, Ro, as soon as you're better," and later, after it's revealed that she was correct all along about the Satanists, "They promised you wouldn't be hurt, and you haven't been. It would have been the same if you had the baby and lost it." Then he adds something about how much they're getting in return; Rosemary responds by spitting in his face.

Two of the most meaningful scenes (that deal directly with Guy's not only malleability but shady character) are the dinner scene with Minnie and Roman where the deal is made, as it were, and the collection of scenes where Rosemary decides to have the party against everyone's advice.

Um. Yikes! 
The dinner scene, which seems at first nothing but utter comedy at the codgers' expense is really quite important. Minnie and Roman are presented almost ridiculously----he bumbling around, "I seem to have over-filled the glasses!" spilling vodka blushes on the carpet and jovially going on about his world-wide travels, and she just a witchy, yammering nag (with table manners just slightly better than a two-year-old----check out her cake-eating bit, if you don't believe me) but they're totally playing. As soon as dinner gets going, Roman tests the religious waters by criticizing the pope; Guy agrees, Rosemary hesitates. Next, he flatters Guy's acting work ("I remember being struck by a gesture you did and checking in the program to see who you were . . . ") and sees that Guy immediately takes the bait. After dinner is finished, Minnie gets the goods on Rosemary's fertility background while Roman presumably lays out the plan to Guy in the next room. Apparently he needed next to no time to think over their proposal, as he assures Minnie that Roman's stories are "very interesting," (to which Roman slyly responds to Minnie, "You see?") and agrees to come back and hear more the next evening, inevitably planning what would soon become "baby night," and perhaps perusing chocolate mouse recipes.

When Rosemary decides to throw a party for the couple's younger friends, she stands up to Guy and Minnie as she never had before, which is crucial in showing that despite their manipulation of her, they still have to let her have her way since she's obviously the most important player in their little game. After Rosemary's friends advise her to change doctors, Guy criticizes them and begins a tirade but is interrupted by Rosemary's sudden excitement over first, a stop to her ongoing pain, and second the movement of the baby. Guy hesitantly allows her to place his hand on her abdomen but then yanks it away in awkward discomfort, choosing to sweep the floor while Rosemary smiles and laughs giddily in a chair. When she eventually meets her son (inside a black-draped bassinet above which a silver, inverted crucifix dangles) she again stands up to an entire room of Satanists, first to Roman, "Shut up, you're in Dubrovnik, I don't hear you," and later Laura Louise, "You're rocking him too fast."

While we never get a look at baby Adrian for ourselves, we are left in the film's final scene with the image of Rosemary rocking him, gazing lovingly, with Guy somewhere among the crowd, unimportant.

With any luck, the Satanists pitched him over the fire escape Terry-Gionaffrio style . . . .