Friday, 23 April 2010

Rosemary's Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968)

My granddad once said to someone who expressed their fear of walking through a grave yard: ‘It’s not those below the ground you have to worry about, it’s those above.’ Whilst that’s not strictly true in this film, the creepiest characters are undoubtedly not the Devil, but his ambassadors, the Castevets, brilliantly played by Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon. Gordon rightly won Best Supporting Actress for her role as the overbearing neighbour to poor Rosemary.
   Thankfully, although in lesser hands than Polanski’s it would have seemed obligatory, the Devil’s spawn is never shown to us. We are left to imagine a baby with evil-looking eyes. The decision I would criticise is how the Devil is depicted. His appearance would have been better left to our imagination too. It’s not easy depicting the Devil without him looking ridiculous, I suppose, although part of me thinks that a modern make-up or special effects department could do a better job now. Thankfully his form here just about verges on the right side of horrible, as opposed to hammy (‘My, what long fingernails you have!’).
   The real horror is, of course, in watching Rosemary’s physical decline to the point where a friend says ‘You look like a piece of chalk’, and her terror when realising what is going on. Mia Farrow is perfect for the role, exuding innocence combined with the child-like quality determined by her build. Cassavetes is great too as the forceful husband, conveying, but never overplaying, menace and cold-hearted determination.
   There are a few ways to get ahead in Hollywood, like sleeping with the right people, having your parents push you into stage school, being beautiful or handsome, schmoozing around at the right parties...or joining a witches coven and offering your wife to the Devil. As far as I know, this has only happened in Polanski’s film, but some might say that their contracts amounted to a pact, if not a sexual liaison, with Satan. How else do you explain the amount of bad films Michael Caine’s been in?
   Ultimately, Rosemary’s repulsion is tested by the mighty strength of motherhood, whereby we all may question whether this bond can overcome absolutely anything. Let’s face it, many a mother still loves her son even though he turns out to be a little devil.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...