Part of my “Netflix Presents: Movies I Really Should Have Seen” series, I guess. Spoilers, of course. Also triggers for severe nonconsensualness and pregnancy trauma.
Two things really stood out about this movie.
Okay, three things, and the first is that–as I’m neither religious nor planning on having kids, I guess–the “your longed-for child is actually the son of Satan” plot didn’t terrify me nearly as much as the mid-sixties decor. And clothes. Rejecting racism, greed, and unjust warfare is great, The Sixties; rejecting the concept of a waistline is not so lovely. When Rosemary’s maternity clothes differ only in size from her pre-maternity outfits, I am disturbed.
More seriously, it’s a neat and probably inadvertent illustration of how creepily patriarchal the sixties still was. There’s a bit at the end where Rosemary goes to her doctor and tells him all about the Satanists and the evil spells and the yadda yadda yadda, which, to me, felt really dumb*: of *course* he’s not going to believe you, you’re rambling about witches! Just tell him your previous doctor was giving you really sketchy medical advice–true–and that your husband threw a hissy when you talked about not going to him any more–also true–so you don’t feel safe around him any more and could he examine you without telling either of them…oh, wait, it’s 1965. (There are probably some places today where things aren’t much better, horrifyingly enough, but I don’t think it’s as widespread an assumption that of *course* your obstetrician will tell your husband everything if you don’t bring the Satanists into it.) Yow.
Speaking of the husband…gaaah. Guy, just because you let Satan impregnate your wife doesn’t mean you have to *act* the part, y’know? I could see his asshattery later in the movie as a coping mechanism, I guess–I feel really bad about this thing I did, so I’m going to be horrible to you to convince you and myself that I don’t care, or something–if he hadn’t really been kind of a jerk even before he sold out to the devil.
That seems not to have taken much convincing, by the way. Rosemary and Minnie are washing dishes, they come back in, and Guy’s gone from Sort of a Jerk to Really Really Sketchy. How did this conversation go?
Roman: “So, Satan–”
Guy: “Yes please!”
Anyhow, it’s either a commentary on the time or the relationship or both that Rosemary stays with Guy. Deal with the devil aside…I mean, I *suppose* I can overlook the gratuitous insulting her hairstyle bits: she asked, and maybe he’s Compulsively Honest Guy. (I sort of hate Compulsively Honest Guy, personally, but that’s another story.) But he flips out at her because she doesn’t finish her dessert–which, yes, is because he wants her to eat the Satan Roofies**, but she doesn’t know that–and she just sort of shrugs and scrapes it into a napkin, like he’s her dad and she’ll get in trouble for not cleaning her plate. Creepy! He then as much as states that he had violent sex with her when she was passed out–and “fun, in a necrophiliac way” is not a line that anyone should use at any point ever–and she’s…disturbed, mildly, but more like she’s disappointed by his inconsiderateness than like she’s realized that she’s married to a sociopath. And again, when he’s flipping out over the potential obstetrician change, there’s no real recognition that maybe this is really not an okay way for your husband to be acting.
I don’t know. Either we’re supposed to believe that Guy’s actions are, without the Satan, mildly dysfunctional relationship behavior and not something a woman would leave over under the media standards of the time, or we’re supposed to believe that Rosemary is so used to her husband being Controlly O’Dramapants that nothing he does really seems like a danger sign until Hutch starts delivering warnings about the devil. Either way…
…ladies and gentlemen of the jury: GAH.
On a less creepy and more storytelling-relevant plane, I’ve been wanting to do a post on villain goals for a while now, and this movie does a pretty good job in terms of showing villains whose motives we don’t really understand that well. The Satanists, well, worship Satan, want him and his son to rule the world, etc etc. Roman is in it hereditarily–and possibly for vengeance–and we can extrapolate from Guy that maybe most of them got some favor or other from His Dark Yadda Yadda, but we don’t know what it is. (In Minnie Castavet’s case, we know only that it clearly *wasn’t* the ability to make her lipstick line up with her actual lips.) That works out okay, though, at least in my view, because the movie is very tightly focused on Rosemary, who has no idea what’s going on here.*** The Satanists are pretty much the Faceless Conspiracy until maybe the last half hour, so while we need to know their goals, we don’t really need their individual motives.
It’s a well-put-together film, and I recommend it. I recommend seeing it on Netflix, because…Polaaaanksi….but it’s good stuff for non-gory, non-jump-scene horror. And the mid-sixties.
ETA: The verdict, talking with a friend, was that Rosemary should totally have left Guy, both because he’s a controlling jerkface and because, frankly, I would so watch a show about the Antichrist and his single mom. Sharing an apartment with her old college friend who *also* has kids and no husband. In the sixties. Get on this, HBO.
*It’s actually a semi-major pet peeve of mine. If you know that talking about the aliens or the witches or the alien witches or the Illuminati makes you sound delusional, and there’s a way you can get help without mentioning them, then why are you not going with that?
**Another part where this movie is disturbing in a way that the director probably didn’t plan. More so because the director is…Polanski. Yeaaaaaaah.
***The movie is one of those Crying Game type things where everyone knows the basic facts by now, and I don’t know to what extent the trailer or box art spoiled things at the time, but in the movie itself? The Grand Plan actually doesn’t become clear for ages: there are wonky neighbors that are up to something, but we don’t know what, and then maybe the Satanists are trying to sacrifice the baby, and only near the very end is it clear that no, Antichrist.