OSCAR WINNER - Best Actress in a Supporting Role Ruth Gordon
Just after Polanski did The Fearless Vampire Killers (AKA Dance of the Vampires), he was offered this script. Producer William Castle (famous in his own right), had just acquired the rights to the novel by Ira Levin, since he wanted to direct the film offered the project to producer Robert Evans (who is now a former Worlwide Head of Production for Paramount Pictures), who immediately liked the idea - he had found a brute diamond, but didn’t wanted Mr. Castle directing. Evans had seen Cul de Sac and had growing interest in Roman Polanski’s work, but he was busy preparing a skiing project, so he called him in. Polanski himself says (inside the retrospective to the film that is featured on the DVD) he was attracted by Bob Evans with a proposal for a ski picture that ended up being this psychological thriller classic. Mr. Evans has said about the film “its all in the way he (Roman) shot it, it works on every level and scares the hell out of you”; that’s no mistake, this film truly makes your skin crawl.
Truth is that this film is one of the most delicate psychological thrillers ever made, by the time Roman directed it, he had already developed his “distinctive mark”: a powerful narrative based on the subjectivity of the stories he tells, he manages to drive us straight into the mind and life of his characters. This exercise he already practiced in detail when he shot Repulsion, starred by legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve, and perfected it in this specific flick.
Delicately enough, Roman crafted a very good screenplay based on the best selling novel, he crafted it with one thing clearly in mind: maintaining the tension until the very last moment, he succeeded.
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From the very first shots, as the credits appear, we fly over the rooftops of New York City through various takes, we end up flying over the Bramford Building, the music by composer Krystof Komeda plays as it sets the tone for the piece and it feels like an eerie and grim fairy tale. We are then presented a couple of newly weds, played by Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes (yes, the same one who also directed films – good ones, by the way); Rosemary is a delicate young wife of Guy Woodhouse is an actor who is seeking a growth in his career. The story itself, as it unfolds, appears to be a classic Doris Day film; it had the melodramatic thing up to the top, and that was the magic that made the film work so well for we are never to expect what is to come. There is a weird contrast between the music and the corny typography used in the credits, same contrast that will be held almost during the entire film. So, this young couple comes to rent an apartment, looking forward to all sorts of things, even having a baby.
The couple soon moves in and in a romantic evening they make love.
As days pass, Rosemary meets a woman who resembles a known actress, her name is Therese; as they meet the woman shows a lucky charm, lady tells it was a gift from the Castevets, an old couple who live in the building too.
Later as Rosemary and Guy are lying in bed, they can hear some strange noises coming from behind the wall, it appears to be a mass.
That afternoon, as the couple returns home, they notice there has been an accident, the lady Rosemary just met apparently committed suicide. As the policemen try to gather facts, Minnie and Roman - the Castevets- come by to discover the news. The lady is shocked but her husband says he really expected something like that to happen, the girl was a manic depressive and had suicidal tendencies. As the interrogation continues, Rosemary and Guy briefly meet the Castevets.
Next scene, we find that Rosemary is having trouble to get to sleep, the sound coming through the walls doesn’t leave her be.Some days after, the Castevets lady comes to visit, she invites the Woodhouse’s to supper. Later as Guy comes in from a failed casting session, Rosemary tells him about the Castevets invitation.
Thus, they make friends with the old couple. Roman Castevet seems to like Guy, they spend a lot of time chatting. When they come back, Guy tells about Roman, he is looking forward to hearing more about him. Rosemary comments about the fact that she noticed that the Castevets pulled down all of their pictures (from the walls), she found it weird.
Some time later, the Castevets lady comes by with a friend, Rosemary is a bit uncomfortable, she is going through her period. The lady gives a present to Rosemary, it turns out to be the charm possessed earlier by Theresa, she says it has something called “tannis root” inside, and comments it is for good luck. Despite the smell, Rosemary wears it just to please.Afterwards, Rosemary puts the charm inside a box, as she does so, the phone rings, Guy apparently got a new part because of an accident suffered by an actor, thus leaving a vacancy. Guy accepts but he is moved by how he got the part and decides to go for a walk.
Things unfold, Guy decides it is time to have a baby. He prepares a wonderful night in the company of Rosemary with the intention of making love to her and creating a baby. But as they are having dinner, the Castevets lady comes down to bring some dessert. Rosemary doesn’t really like something about the taste, she comments on it but she is pushed by Guy to keep on eating it. As Rosemary cleans up, she starts feeling dizzy, Guy says it was the booze and takes her to bed.
Polanski dives us in Rosemary’s dreams, as Guy loosens her clothes up to make her comfortable, she merges into a strange nightmare in which she leaves behind her friend Hutch. Then the true horror begins as we dwell deep inside the nightmare, Rosemary walks into a bedroom and is then visited by many persons, she is apparently the center of a dark rite; circled by naked attendants, she sees Guy telling the Castavet lady that Rosemary is apparently awake. She tells him to ignore that and keep on singing. They seem to be performing a black mass, in which the devil rapes Rosemary.