Thursday, November 15, 2012

ROSEMARY'S BABY (Roman Polanski, 1968, USA)

Rosemary births a malignant tumor: dominated by a Coven who have stolen her body for their own diabolical purpose and planted an inhuman seed. An absonant child’s lullaby underscores the opening shot across the rooftops of New York City until it settles upon Rosemary and Guy, as they decide to rent an apartment in the archaic Bramford. This omniscient perspective seems to peer down at the world like an absentee creator pondering its tiny subjects.

Director Roman Polanski is careful to feed us the ungodliness in slow bites and not gorge us with cliché: most of the film plays like a failing marriage, as Guy concentrates more on his career than his pregnant wife. In this cold emotional territory Rosemary becomes lost, isolated from friends and family by an egocentric husband and creepily adoring neighbors. Soon, she can’t differentiate dream from reality, questioning her own judgment, relying on the “kindness” of intrusive strangers. The drug-induced visual sequences are eerily surreal as Rosemary’s perceptions trip the light fantastic, dancing upon madness and hellishness as she is violently penetrated. This is a film of modern paranoia, reflecting our lovely perfect lives into a dark mirror, where the mundane is not quite what it seems, and fearing the monsters that lurk in the abyss of our primal dreams…or next door.

Polanski has made an unbelievable premise plausible and therein lays the true horror. A perverse ironic humor dominates the film. Rosemary’s very name harkens the divine mother except here, she expels virulent afterbirth. Or the exaggerated mannerism of her elderly neighbors, clownish enough to not be taken seriously and nosy enough to be dangerous. Witness the daemon’s conception during the Pope’s visit to New York and its expulsion on the 6th month of the year 1966 Anno Domini.
As Rosemary tries to escape her fate, the whole world seems involved in the conspiracy to take her baby, to seek its destruction, a cabal of Witches. Rosemary finally discovers the dreadful truth when the tiny beast, shrouded in a black bassinet, reveals its inhuman eyes. But a mother’s gentle touch rocks the crying daemon to sleep, while the Coven gleefully celebrates our world’s new successor.

Final Grade: (A)