“Rosemary’s Baby”

Roman Polanski's unnerving classic deserves to be seen in all its gloomy glory. But good luck erasing it from memory afterward.

Topics: Roman Polanski, Movies,

“Rosemary’s Baby”
Directed by Roman Polanski
Starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon
Paramount; widescreen (1.66:1 aspect ratio)
Extras: Retrospective interviews with Polanski, production executive Robert Evans and production designer Richard Sylbert; making-of featurette

“Scary” just isn’t the right word for Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby.” It’s an unnerving, artful, vaguely unpleasant picture that settles deep into your bones, leaving you feeling just a little unclean, as if you’ve been made uncomfortably privy to one woman’s very intimate suffering. Rosemary (Mia Farrow, looking as close to a daisy perched on two delicate stems as any human being possibly could) and her husband, Guy (a shiveringly nasty John Cassavetes), move into a new apartment building, where they’re instantly befriended by its aggressively affable elderly denizens, led by Roman and Minnie Castavet (Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon, respectively).

You Might Also Like

These creepy and decidedly uncreepy (at least at first) seniors have evil plans for sweet Rosemary, arranging for Satan (whom they worship — in the nude, no less) to sire her baby without her knowing it. “Rosemary’s Baby” unfolds as a menacingly gentle fugue of paranoia, as Rosemary slowly unravels what’s happening to her. Polanski keeps the creeping sense of horror in the air without ever dangling it cheesily in front of us: When the drugged Rosemary is being prepared to meet the Dark Prince, we see her floating, fully clothed, on a mattress that’s been set adrift on a hopelessly blue Mediterranean-looking sea. Polanski cuts the sound, and the silence feels like the treacherous roar of the ocean.

The extras here are minimal but satisfying. A making-of featurette that’s edited like a student art film (this was 1968, remember) shows the youthful Farrow dancing like a wood sprite around the set and decorating an otherwise Spartan-looking storage shed with effusive flower-power blossoms.

The other feature, made for the release of the DVD, is built around retrospective interviews with production executive Robert Evans, production designer Richard Sylbert and Polanski, which sketch in interesting bits of background: For instance, Sylbert knew immediately that Guy and Rosemary’s apartment building simply had to be New York’s Dakota, an imposingly elegant, Gothic-type structure that looks as if it has a million secrets bricked into its walls. The Dakota seems particularly foreboding on the fresh DVD transfer, which is lovely, restoring “Rosemary’s Baby” to all its gloomy glory. In its newly spiffed-up state, the picture deserves to be seen. Good luck trying to rinse it from memory afterward.

Stephanie Zacharek is a senior writer for Salon Arts & Entertainment.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>