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July 14, 2016

Addendum: Movie Review || Rosemary's Baby (1968)

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After reviewing the television miniseries reboot of 'Rosemary's Baby', I have finally watched the original and absolutely agree with everyone who says that it is much creepier than the reboot. The direction, the actors, and even the music all contribute to make this film feel much more complete and well put-together than the television miniseries.

Firstly, the music: Oh my word! 'Rosemary's Baby' is supposed to be a horror movie, or at the very least a thriller, and it felt to me, after watching the 1968 version, that those behind the reboot had completely forgotten the importance of the soundtrack in creating tension and communicating terror to the viewer. If I have to think back on the miniseries, there is not one moment that stands out because of the music. In contrast, the original is filled with notable pieces that only add a greater depth to the film. Take the first and last piece (which are the same): the almost robotic way the mother is singing a lullaby is freaky in itself. The most thrilling piece of music is that employed when Rosemary attempts to escape from Guy and Doctor Sapirstein: the notes become faster and higher reaching a crescendo just as Rosemary manages to shut the door on them and end their pursuit. Then there is also the use of absolute silence, such as when Rosemary is in the dream sequence: the only noise is Rosemary's own plaintive cries that, 'This is no dream!'

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Secondly, the cast was much better for the story that was being told. The film follows the novel in this area and as a result Ruth Gordon's Minnie is the ideal annoying and pushy neighbour. At no point do we come to suspect that she and Roman's intentions are untoward in any way, at least until she appears unclothed in Rosemary's dream, and even afterwards she is not pushy enough to make Rosemary suspicious. John Cassavetes as Guy is also perfectly sleazy for the role. Whereas Patrick J. Adams seems too disinclined to put his needs first and leaks with remorse as soon as the process of impregnating Rosemary has begun, John has an air of selfishness and narcissism that makes the possibility that he could allow what was done to Rosemary much more likely. Of course Mia Farrow is extraordinary in this role: she is almost too angelic to be real, but little nuances such as the way she pulls her face when Minnie brings the mousse makes her feel more real.

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Thirdly, I love how the story is that much more simply put through Roman Polanski's direction (Isn't it odd that he shares the name of the main witch, Roman Castevet?) It holds your attention through simplicity and did not have to resort to excessive gore or obvious fright to maintain it. The fact that the couple are in a city they are familiar with, speaking a language they know, and not surrounded by strangers makes the fact that Rosemary didn't catch on sooner completely plausible, whereas the foreign setting in the reboot should have made her that much more suspicious and less quick to trust strangers.

While it is difficult for me to pick which I like most, since I like aspects of both versions, the original certainly has top place for being the chiller the book deserved, while the reboot has top place for the chemistry between the lead characters.

If you've seen both films, which did you like more and why? Please comment below and let me know!

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