Rosemary's Baby

Posted by skoons on October 29, 2010 

I am totally psyched that "Rosemary's Baby," a 1968 horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski, is playing at the State Theatre on Sunday. It is part of the State Theatre Film Collective's fall classic film series. Read the column I wrote for today's Weekender: http://www.centredaily.com/2010/10/29/2303744/centre-cinefiles-rosemarys-baby.html.

As I mention in the column, I think that a lot of contemporary horror films rely too much on graphic violence and cheap thrills, which takes away all the mystery and suspense. With older movies like "Rosemary's Baby," the filmmakers used the craft of storytelling and character development. In an age of instant messaging and Twitter, it may be hard to get younger people to stay focused while watching "Rosemary's Baby," which, by today's standards, moves rather slowly. But the payoff is so much more rewarding than watching people getting slashed and mutilated.

"Rosemary's Baby" is truly an intellectual horror film, and the real terror is in Rosemary's mind as she tries to find out what her bizarre neighbors have in store for her and her unborn child, and determine whom she can trust. Even her beloved husband is suspicious. I think every woman can relate, in some way, to her situation. James Morgart, a Penn State grad student and filmmaker who will be introducing the film at the 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. screenings, told me that the film makes a statement about the submissive role that women are assigned to by society. Having seen the film twice, I was more focused on the narrative and didn't really think about the overarching themes, but I think Morgart hits the mark. Rosemary lives for her husband and doesn't seem to have any goals of her own, so she is a prime target for manipulation by malevolent forces.

"Rosemary's Baby" requires the viewer to pay a lot of attention to detail, and it's the small moments that really make the film. Not to give too much away, but a scene in which Rosemary is trying to make a call in a phone booth was completely nerve-wracking for me, and not much really happened. The film also features terrific supporting performances by veteraran actors, and for Mia Farrow, the role was probably her crowning achievement. She may not be the world's greatest actress, but with her waifishness and steely resolve, she embodied the character of Rosemary perfectly.

I encourage everyone to take a break from the usual scary movie suspects like "Halloween" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (not that they're bad movies, the directors were actually influenced by Polanski) and take advantage of the opportunity to see this groundbreaking horror film on the big screen.

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