Occult: Rosemary's Baby
The Occult Collection focuses on three of our favorite Occult themed films. Occult meaning "that which is hidden" can refer to a great many things depending on the breadth of your scope. Tarot, witchcraft, esoterisism, magick, and all other forms of seeing the world that are not included in mainstream culture.
The first film in the Occult collection is the horror masterpiece Rosemary's Baby by Roman Polanski. The atmosphere this movie creates is suffocating and somehow hallucinatory. Everything from the building the movie is set in to the characters, has a dream-like quality that you expect Rosemary to wake up and all of this would have never happened.
When we were discussing what movies we would want in this collection we both came to Rosemary's Baby with the same story. It was the first movie we remember our moms saying scared them to death. To this day Lance's mom shudders when she thinks about it. We can not imagine how this movie was received in the late 60's when it was released. How could this movie not feed the nightmares of every expecting mother that went to see it.
Rosemary, played by Mia Farrow, exemplifies hope and a beautiful sweetness as the movie begins. She is accompanied by John Cassavetes as her husband Guy a struggling actor in New York City. They find an incredible apartment in the Bramford building, the Dakota in our reality. The Dakota building plays an integral role in this movie, it is the first character you see as the movie begins, and the last character you see as the movie ends. The actual history of the building holds its own horror for instance, John Lennon lived in and was murdered right in front of the building. The Bramford has a horrific history of devil worship and human sacrifice, the couple only learns after they agree to the new apartment.
The new neighbors seem nice, if not overly enthusiastic. One of the most impressive aspects of the writing and Mia Farrow's performance is her intuition. Rosemary is wary of the all too eager to help elderly couple the Castevets. You get the impression that something isn't right with the whole situation. As we find out later in the film the Bramford is still inhabited by a coven of witches. The core battle of the movie places the magic of a mother's intuition against the faustian bargain of her husband and the coven's own malevolent intentions. The beautiful charm that is given to Rosemary to wear with the tannis root seems to hold some power over her ability to utilize her intuition.
Rosemary is drugged but only half successfully as her intuition tells her that something isn't right with her dessert. Polanski does an incredible job with the drugged dream-like sequence that follows it's one of two scenes in the movie where you swear later that you have seen more than you actually have. Somehow your memory and experience of the scene adds more from your imagination which only increases the horror inflicted. The commentary on rape in this movie is something that must have been ahead of its time. How many terrible stories have we heard of drugging, rape, and the crushing weight of no one believing these actions have happened to the victim today. The pain and confusion Rosemary faces is horrifying and terribly unsettling.
"THIS IS NO DREAM! THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!"
Rosemary becomes pregnant believing her night with the Devil was only a nightmare. The Castevets become even more involved throughout the pregnancy and Rosemary becomes more suspicious. Her only aid comes from her friend Hutch who is familiar with the buildings history and what the root in Rosemary's necklace may mean. Hutch leaves clues for Rosemary as soon he falls ill and dies unexpectedly, the scope of the conspiracy against her is widening adding to the suffocating effect of the movie. She unravels the connections to satan worshiping murders in the building's past and how it connects to her. Rosemary soon finds out that the conspiracy against her is vast and she has nowhere to run.
The final sequence and has Rosemary uncovering her newborn baby in the clutches of the coven but despite the baby's eyes, "He has his Father's eyes" she moves to care for her baby. This is the second scene where your imagination is left to run wild. We remember the urban legends of this scene with descriptions of the baby being a hideous demon spawn, however, upon viewing all we get to see are his eyes. This is the magic of what Polanski was able to accomplish. How can he show so little and invite so much for the audience to fill in? Rosemary's Baby displays how not revealing the creature allows the viewer to imagine a reality far more frightening than any movie could produce.
In our design we wanted to highlight the beautifully tragic character of the Bramford. The paradox of this building begs the question was the building born evil or were the acts committed in it the cause of its horror. The colors of the movie poster and title card are used to tie the design to the legacy of art created for this movie.