Rosemary's Baby

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

He chose you, honey! From all the women in the world to be the mother of his only living son!

Minnie Castevet

A novel by Ira Levin, Rosemary's Baby became better known as a 1968 film by Roman Polanski. It starred Mia Farrow as the eponymous Rosemary, who moves in with her husband Guy into a New York apartment. Their neighbors are the Castevets, an elderly couple who seem nice enough at first. She has a dream where she is raped by a demon, only to learn she is pregnant a few weeks later. It is eventually revealed that the Castevets are part of a Satanic cult and that Rosemary's Baby is the Antichrist himself.

The film was shot at the Dakota Apartments in New York City, where John Lennon lived and where he was murdered in 1980. The front entrance where Lennon was shot is shown more than once.

The movie was named to the National Film Registry in 2014.

Tropes used in Rosemary's Baby include:
  • Adaptation Distillation / Pragmatic Adaptation: both averted. Ira Levin has stated that he was amazed by how faithful the film was to the novel; Stephen King described is as so faithful that you really only needed one or the other.
  • Affably Evil: The Castavets, particularly Roman.
  • All Just a Dream: Subverted. HARD.
    • Though in the sequel novel, it turns out the first book really was a dream. A prophetic dream. DUN! DUN! DUN!
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Younger viewers may be a little surprised to see that Rosemary has to see if she's pregnant by visiting the doctor and getting her blood drawn, and then wait to find out the results later.
  • The Antichrist: They hope so, at least.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The cultists succeed in their plan to spawn the Antichrist -- and it seems that they've drawn Rosemary herself into their ranks.
    • The novel subverts it a little. While Rosemary does agree to raise her baby, it's because she hopes that she can influence him to reject his destiny and embrace his human side. This is shown when she demands that the baby be named Andrew (instead of "Adrian", after the cult's founder) and not wear black all of the time.
  • Big Applesauce
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Pretty much anyone who's in the cult.
  • The Cameo: Elisha Cook Jr! Hooray!
    • Wait a second... is that William Castle outside the phone booth?
    • That's Tony Curtis on the phone as the actor who's blinded and replaced by Guy in a play.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Inverted with Rosemary. She was raised Catholic but has drifted away from the church, and the Castevets find her a ripe target. Meanwhile, her stolidly Catholic sister can sense that Rosemary is in danger but Rosemary doesn't get anything of the sort.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Scrabbleboard pieces.
    • Hutch's missing glove.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Dr. Hill.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Roman criticizes the Catholic Church, but not a word is said about any other one.
  • Comatose Canary: Rosemary fills this role in the time between Rosemary's Baby and Son of Rosemary.
  • Cult: A Satanic one, at that.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Guy.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: This movie has a very slow start. But once it gets going...
  • Downer Ending
  • Evil Old Folks: Although, despite being Satanists, they're kind of nice people.
  • Evil Is Stylish: Definitely averted with the Castevets, the tackiest Satanists ever.
  • Extreme Doormat: Rosemary. Everything about Guy under Jerkass? She basically goes along with it.
  • Fetus Terrible: Although aside from causing her several months of unusually extreme pain, the fetus itself doesn't have that much influence while it's in Rosemary's womb.
  • Friends Rent Control: A struggling actor and his non-working wife living in a prewar apartment in an exclusive Upper West Side building that, even in the '60s, a hedge fund manager could barely afford in real life.
    • Although there might be a reason for this. The previous tenant, Mrs Gardenia, was an old woman who had lived in the apartment for decades. New York rent control only allows a rent to be raised a certain percentage above its previous price (the building superintendent points this out, saying that they would raise the rent if they were allowed). Rosemary and Guy might be renting the apartment for only a fraction more than Mrs Gardenia's original lease some twenty or thirty years before.
    • The book also explicitly states that Rosemary and Guy are living off residuals from a commercial Guy did years before. He would get a check every time the commercial aired.
  • Hollywood Satanism
  • Incubus
  • Jerkass: From the beginning Guy was more than a bit of a jackass. Seriously, what man repeatedly states to his wife's face that he thinks her haircut makes her look hideous and that it's the worst decision she's ever made?
    • The night after Satan impregnates her, Rosemary notices some scratches on her. Guy tells her he got too excited last night and then handwaves it as "Baby Night." Outside of the fact that Guy is covering for the fact that he let Satan rape his wife, he covers by saying he basically raped her unconscious body, scratching her in the process, and thinks that's an acceptable cover story.To top it off, he says "it was kind of fun, in a necrophiliac way".
  • Large Ham: Ruth Gordon, and it earns her an Academy Award.
  • Meaningful Echo: "To 1966! The year one!"
  • Number of the Beast: Present throughout, right down to Rosemary's due date: 6/66.
  • Nightmare Face: In the final scene when Rosemary discovers her baby. While not disfigured, the look on Rosemary's face when she first sees her child, and her eyes go INCREDIBLY don't even have to see what the baby looks like, her horrified expression tells it all.
    • Also Satan, though (thankfully) we don't see too much of it.
  • Nosy Neighbor: Minnie and Roman.
  • People in Rubber Suits: Satan. It's not a very convincing suit, which is probably why they avoid showing you too much.
  • Phone Booth
  • Product Placement: Rosemary makes a big deal about the fact that her new haircut is Vidal Sassoon. All of the characters then say it doesn't look good on her.
  • Put on a Bus: In the made-for-tv sequel, Rosemary is literally put on a (driverless) bus in the beginning of the movie and is never seen again.
  • Religious Horror
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Terry Gionoffrio.
  • Satan
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Rosemary becomes suspicious of her husband and the neighbors he's befriended. She discovers her suspicions are all too horribly true. She tries to escape. She fails. It wouldn't have made any difference if she'd succeeded. In the end, she just gives up. What was at stake? Everything.
    • She doesn't give up in the book, though. She first plans to grab the baby and jump out the window with it to kill it, then plans to agree to raise it, with the intent of guiding it to be a good person and not evil.
  • Shout-Out: Rosemary mentions in passing that she and Guy enjoyed watching a production of The Fantasticks the other day.
  • Significant Anagram: Steven Marcato the warlock. Roman Castevet the neighbor. They're one and the same.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Hinted at, though ultimately subverted.
  • Title Drop: In-universe example. Rosemary reads a book titled "All them witches". When she starts growing more and more paranoid she starts rambling "Witches... witches... all of them, witches... All them witches!" and then seems to laugh to herself.
  • Urban Legends: Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey wasn't actually involved in this film, and that isn't him in the demon costume.