With a comparatively small budget of just $3.2 million, Rosemary’s Baby grossed over $33 million worldwide upon its release, making it by far the most commercially successful of Polanski’s ‘Apartment Trilogy’ films. Besides the confined settings in urban environments, there are several other elements common to all three films, not least a tortured lead who invariably suffers a number of traumatic episodes that are never clearly identified as real or imagined.
Rosemary’s Baby is distinguished from the others in its explicitly occult, specifically Satanist theme. Furthermore, the performances from Mia Farrow, who was served with divorce papers from Frank Sinatra on set mid-shoot, Ruth Gordon, who won an Oscar for her role as sinister neighbour Minnie Castevet, and John Cassavetes, who plays Rosemary’s disturbingly ambivalent actor husband Guy Woodhouse, are all outstanding. Oddly humorous in places, this is nevertheless truly terrifying.
This film is showing as part of the IFI’s Focus on Roman Polanski (January 4th – 26th).