|Fig.1 Rosemary's Baby Poster.|
Rosemary's Baby, perhaps one of Roman Polanski's best known works, is an attack on not only the viewers mind but what they view as 'heimlich', homely and safe. Tony Magistrale stated that "the darkest evils are always those found in our neighbourhoods, in our children, and in ourselves rather than in some deserted place out among the stars." (Magistrale, 1988:15) This supports that it is making the 'heimlich', the familiar and safe, into the 'unheimlich', the unhomely and unfamiliar. These subjects the viewers hold closest to them is also where they feel their most vulnerable because they feel secure there. To twist this ideology is to create something incredibly unsettling to those watching. Paul Wells believes that "Polanski wittily demonstrates the deep unreliability of the body and the mind, and their increasing dissociation merely exposes how each has been corrupted, re-determined or rendered inappropriate in the changing social climate." (Wells, 2004:83) As the audience watches the film they observe as the lead character Rosemary, played by Mia Farrow, becomes pregnant and is gradually controlled by those that live around her. Her neighbourhood is seeping into her new home and invading every aspect of her privacy and intimacy.
|Fig.2 Rosemary in Red.|
|Fig.3 Roman Cassavete in Red.|
|Fig. 4 Rosemary the night after being drugged.|
Another interesting theme within the film is the rights that women have over their own body. That same night that she was raped by the devil she woke up with scratches all over her, her husband then told her it was because he had sex with her while she was knocked out. Not only is this a huge betrayal of trust but it supports that though she's a free individual she has no ownership of her own body. Barry Keith Grant observed that her being "unconscious during intercourse mocks woman's "designated" coital stance: passive and undemanding." (Grant, 1996:420) She's been asleep after being drugged and wakes up to a husband that seems to have taken no consideration over whether she may have wanted to take part in trying for a baby or not. This brings up a point that Robert M. Polhemus made; "is the potential life in a woman before she gives birth ultimately her responsibility or does it finally belong to the patriarchal power that has traditionally ruled culture?" (Polhemus, 2005:301) Despite how free and in control of her own body she may have felt, her husband taking this liberty has indicated that she clearly is still submissive to the patriarchal ideology. The irony is that while she's feeling violated over Guy's betrayal of trust and apparent impatience to have a child, unbeknownst to her, the baby he was trying for isn't even his. This raises another interesting point, Polhemus went on to say "Rosemary exists to be used by others and has little say over her own body. She's regarded as a vessel to bear a child. Her essence is her reproductive capacity - her genitalia and womb." (Polhemus, 2005:301) The cultural context of this is that it wasn't until the late 1960's that women in America began to get rights over their bodies and were freely allowed to use birth control methods, such as the contraceptive pill. This film is the fear that a lot of women would've had, the fear that no matter what rights they may be granted, they will never be able to escape this patriarchal control that they have been submitted to for so long.
List of Illustrations
Figure 1. Rosemary's Baby Poster. (1968) At: http://www.impawards.com/1968/posters/rosemarys_baby.jpg (Accessed on 08.12.10)
Figure 2. Fig.2 Rosemary in Red. (1968) At: http://clothesonfilm.com/double-feature-rosemarys-baby-kbs-thoughts/7644/ (Accessed on 08.12.10)Figure 3. Roman Cassavete in Red. (1968) At: http://filmgrab.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/rosemarys-baby/ (Accessed on 08.12.10)
Figure 4. Rosemary the night after being drugged. (1968) At: http://img.listal.com/image/86881/600full-rosemary%27s-baby-photo.jpg (Accessed on 08.12.10)
Bellantoni, Patti (2005) If it's purple, someone's gonna die: the power of color in visual storytelling. Oxford: Focal Press
Grant, Barry Keith (1996) The dread of difference: gender and the horror film. Texas: University Texas Press
Magistrale, Tony (1988) Landscape of fear: Stephen King's American Gothic. Wisconsin: Popular Press
Polhemus, Robert M. (2005) Lot's daughters: sex, redemption, and women's quest for authority. California: Stanford University Press
Wells, Paul (2004) The horror genre: from Beelzebub to Blair Witch. London: Wallflower Press