Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby (1968) is one of the best horror movies I've ever seen. Actually I would rather use psychological drama than horror movie to describe this film. It is not graphically scary with bloody scenes, but creepy and spooky in a sense it keeps the horror hidden and the same time next to you. Click to watch a retrospective interview of the director, producer and production designer.

The clip starts with film's opening la-la-la song performed by Mia Farrow (who played Rosemary), which also appears at the end of the film. This seemingly innocent la-la-la has an intrinsically chilling and haunting dimension in it, perhaps Rosemary's painful enjoyment after discovering the dark truth. It somehow reminds me of Terry Gilliam's Brazil where the stupid song "Brazil" gets repeated to a painful noisy degree. At the end the protagonist starts to whistle the song after all the tortures. In Zizek's words, this "idiotic enjoyment" serves as a means to sustain our "sense of reality"..."reality always requires a certain superego command, a certain 'So be it!' The status of the voice uttering this command is neither imaginary nor symbolic, it is real." (- from Looking Awry)

The apartment building filmed in Rosemary's Baby is the Dakota, located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West in New York City. It was built in 1884, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, one of the first apartment buildings in Manhattan. In the movie, Rosemary redecorates the interior with bright wallpaper, white paint and Scandinavian furniture. The original old-fashioned interior is replaced with a delightful contemporary style. The outside of the building appears to have outlived time, while the inside keeps transforming through different occupants and filled with stories.

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