Wednesday, 9 March 2016

'Rosemary's Baby 1968' Conceiving, Conceptualizing and Controlling 09/03/2016

Figure 1: 'Rosemary's Baby' Poster
This film review will focus on the film 'Rosemary's Baby 1968', being set in the 1960's there were a lot of changes happening to society, such as the introduction of the contraception pill and woman's rights in society. The story follows a young woman called Rosemary Woodhouse and her husband Guy Woodhouse as they move into their new home and plan to have a baby, this is oddly interrupted however by an odd old couple who have seemed to taken a 'fond' liking to the young couple. As Rosemary's pregnancy goes on odd things begin to happen after suffering from a horrible nightmare? Or is it a nightmare at all? The stories pacing is good to say the least, it can struggle to get the viewers attention at first but when stuff begins to pick up the movie is much more enjoyable. This film potentially takes large influence from 'Psycho (1960') and was probably one of the main inspirations for the film '(Suspiria 1977)', not just in its story but in its design as well.

The film as a whole concept does work, trying to get you to choose sides from Rosemary's perspective, is she crazy? Is this all real? Maybe both?! The film is a game of tug of war, where the two side of truth and fiction are perilously thin. "He gives the audience a great deal of information early in the story, and by the time the movie's halfway over we're pretty sure what's going on in that apartment next door. When the conclusion comes, it works not because it is a surprise but because it is horrifyingly inevitable." (R Ebert. 1968)

Figure 2: Rosemary
Lets start off with the layout of the film, the film starts off how you would expect, we are introduced to our characters, the plot is set and all goes according to plan. However in the middle of the film there is a rape scene in which seems very odd, switching from Rosemary being very dizzy then all of a sudden being raped by a devil, gargoyle, monster, demon, Satan? That scene is very confusing for the reason of how much of an immediate jump it is, whilst this jump can be slightly criticized it can also be praised, because it within that short timeframe that the whole film is shown off perfectly and it sets the standard for the whole film, what is true and what is false. "The film works on multiple levels – as a supernatural thriller (though explicit paranormal elements are limited to a hallucinatory dream sequence and the final shot of the baby's eyes), as a psychological thriller about a paranoid pregnant woman who imagines herself at the centre of a conspiracy, and as the last word in marital betrayal, since the most despicable villain here is surely Guy, who allows his wife to be raped by the devil in exchange for an acting role." (A Billson. 2010) Another really good indicator of the films story direction is the way Rosemary changes, not just physically but mentally too, having mental breakdowns and horrified images of truth and reality. The main physical things that change about her (besides her size) is her skin tone and her hair, at the start of the film set is this gorgeous blonde girl, kind of a 'Stereotype Perfect Girl'. By the end of the film however she is this small shaken up little thing, having shorter hair and paler skin makes her go through this transition of being a glamour gal into innocent little victim.

Another really strong thing about Rosemary's character is near the end when she is about to discover what has really happened with her baby, it is an absolutely brilliant scene where we are almost put into the boots of the murderer in 'Psycho (1960('. Being scared out of her mind her only thing she can think to do is fight back and discover whatever is being hidden from her, her child  is apparently dead, but after all of the lies she has been fed she does not know what to believe and wants to get answers for herself. Her walking down the hallway almost like an insane asylum patient with a knife in hand and at the ready, something similar the instability of Carol Ledoux from 'Repulsion (1965)'.


Figure 3: Satan's Eyes
One of the main design choices that it seems went into the film was that there was a lot of yellow in the film. Now yellow is normally seen as more of either a sickly color or it can represent happiness, flamboyancy and joy. However this color is also known for being used for when an uncertain baby was going to be born, if the baby was a boy a room would be blue, whereas a girls room would generally be pink. However we have no idea what this baby even is so this yellow color becomes this visual indication for the unknown rather than a sign of happiness. Even during the scene with the hospital everything seems to be in washed out colors, whereas shots of the streets seem perfectly normal.

One of the much stronger scenes in the film that shows off it color indication is when we find out what has become of the baby. Now usually when a baby is born the crib that is has is usually a bright color like white or yellow, also having suspended above a toy or some sort. The crib this baby is being held in however is very different, being covered in black satanic tones you can immediately tell something is wrong, but also if you look carefully above the crib there is a cross instead of a toy. The film does touch on very delicate topics for its time, such as whether women should have been able to choose about their own pregnancies or their choice to do anything full stop, not to be just to be objects but to be human beings with purpose and life.

Back again the scene where Rosemary's is raped, now from how she appears to be she is very weak and vulnerable, henceforth the nudity and exposure, but also this scene is very real. With most drugging's or drug trips things appear to distort and alter, but nothing in this sequence does, the closest thing we get to a drug trip in this film is a bed floating on water. So for this scene to appear so real from the very start immediately tells the viewer that something is going on.

Figure 4: The Charm
The film as a whole is very good, music complimenting the film and adding to the emotions of the situations we are presented with. On top of that the cinematography is also excellent, especially the ending sequence which should be reminded is quite the plot twist, adding in some elements from 'Psycho (1960)' and setting standards for future films such as 'Suspiria (1977)' and 'Repulsion (1965)'. Whilst the film does struggle to pick up it pace for most of the film, once it gets going the film is pretty solid, setting example for future films and is a very well studied film by relating to topics that were major issues at the time.

The time and research that went into the films symbolism would have been ridiculous, even from our very first scenes of the huge towering apartments to party scene every little detail about the film has been tweaked to show all of the films workings as a whole. "We never see what is in that black-draped cradle. It's that smile playing on Rosemary's lips, suggesting that her maternal instinct and the conspirators' hold on this vapid baby doll have prevailed, that provides the biggest chill." (A Errigo. 2015)

Bibliography

Billson, A. (2010) 'Rosemary’s baby: No 2 best horror film of all time'
In: The Guardian 22 October 2010
[online] At:
(Accessed on 8.3.16)

Errigo, A. (2015) Rosemary’s baby.
[online] At:
(Accessed on 8.3.16)

Ebert, R. Rosemary’s baby movie review & film summary (1968).
[online] At:
(Accessed on 8.3.16)

Image Bibliography

Figure 1: 'Rosemary's Baby' Poster
http://www.kennelco.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Rosemarys-Baby.jpg

Figure 2: Rosemary
http://n99.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/rosemarys-baby.jpg

Figure 3: Satan's Eyes
http://www.lovedesigner.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Screen-Shot-2557-01-12-at-2.23.53-PM.png

Figure 4: The Charm
http://www.mondo-digital.com/rosemary3big.jpg

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like you enjoyed this one, Tom :)
    Couple of things... I don't think figure 3 is the babies eyes? Is that not from the rape scene?
    When you mention another film such as 'Psycho', 'Repulsion' etc, put the date in brackets after the name, so 'Psycho (1960)' otherwise it makes it sound like part of the name.

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  2. Hi Jackie, I looked into some parts of the film and I found some bit and bobs out. The eyes are actually from the rape scene, my mistake and the errors you pointed out have been fixed :) Thanks again Jackie!

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  3. Tom - Repulsion was Polanski's first film - before Rosemary's Baby...

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