There's nothing to be scared about. Honest and truly there isn't!

There’s nothing to be scared about. Honest and truly there isn’t!

Note: Many thanks go out to Anna, who kind enough to do this screencap for me today as a favour. I owe ya one, mademoiselle. – RM

Let me guess – this isn’t the shot you think of when you think ROSEMARY’S BABY, right? Hear me out.

So here we have Rosemary. Very pregnant by this point, continually convinced that something is wrong, and growing increasingly paranoid. So desperate is she for help, that she contacts an acquaintance from a phone booth and waits for him to call her back (back when one could easily do such things!). In the interim, her fear and paranoia begin to grow to the point where we begin to feel it too.

What we get is what you see here : Rosemary looking worried-yet-hopeful. She stares at an inanimate object that could be her salvation with a worried determination in her eyes. It’s almost as if she’s willing it to ring. Meanwhile, in between her striking face and that phone receiver, we see a woman in a pink dress. Nothing to worry about there, right?

Except that there is.

The woman – at this point strategically positioned between Rosemary and her lifeline – walks straight towards the phone booth, and then lingers. It’s New York, it’s the middle of the day. Odds are, she’s waiting to make a call. However, at this stage, even something as innocuous as this is cause for panic. Rosemary doesn’t know who to trust, so convinced is she that her neighbours, doctor, and even her husband are up to no good. If people that close to you are conspiring, who else is involved? Acquaintances? Strangers? Seemingly innocent women in pink dresses? Like Rosemary, our tension grows as this woman walks up, and it stays heightened as she stands and waits over Rosemary’s shoulder. Is she really just waiting her turn, or is she following Rosemary for some reason.

In the moments that follow, another man will take the woman’s place…also waiting, at once innocent and yet not. But it’s this moment…where we watch the woman approach that sums up the film for me. It’s the moment where the fear grows with the woman’s approach.

This is a film that plays with many themes, but the glue that brings them together is the theme of fear and nervousness during pregnancy. It’s a moment when so much is at stake; the very life of the mother-to-be, and the life that has not yet entered this world. There are things that pose risks to both that can be controlled, and also so many things that pose risks that are completely out of our control. By the time of this film, medicine had advanced to a point where old risks could be contained (and these days even more can be contained). Still, in the deepest, darkest corner of an adult’s mind, the fear that lives there whispers “what if?”

That nervousness is with all things being equal. Add to that nervousness some crazy visions, wack-o neighbours, and an untrustworthy doctor and it’s a miracle Rosemary makes it this far.

Polanski makes us feel every bit of that tension, stress, and paranoia. He has us worried sick for Rosemary and her baby, and has us seeing potential threats around every corner…and wonder if they might be wearing a pink dress.


Here’s three more from ROSEMARY’S BABY for the road…





He Has His Father's Eyes

This series of posts is inspired by the “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” series at The Film Experience. Do check out all of the awesome entires in their series so far