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Scream, and scream again, as the State Library of Queensland celebrates Halloween with a free screening of 1968 horror classic 'Rosemary's Baby' on Sunday 23 October.
The first film made in the USA by director Roman Polanksi, 'Rosemary's Baby' was based on a best-selling novel of the same name by writer Ira Levin. It tells the story of a young couple -- Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy (John Cassavetes) -- who move into a creepy Gothic apartment building called the Bramford.
Their older neighbours Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman (Sidny Blackmer) seem at first eccentric and slightly overbearing, but otherwise harmless. However, as aspiring actor Guy grows closer to the pair, things get stranger and stranger. Rosemary has hallucinatory dreams, mishaps start to befall Guy's competitors, and Rosemary's pregnancy finds her increasingly frail and mentally tortured.
From innocent girl...
Much of the film's impact comes from the ambiguity surrounding Rosemary's mental state -- is she really a victim of the supernatural, or a paranoid nutcase? (The movie is part of Polanski's 'paranoia' trilogy, along with 'Repulsion' and 'The Tenant'.) Performances are also top-notch, with Ruth Gordon (Minnie) winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role.
There's also a vein of sly humour that runs throughout much of the movie, a sort of mocking self-awareness of the melodrama that's unfolding, which manages to lighten the mix without undermining the genuinely creepy mood created by the cast and director.
...and then this. Yikes.
For those interested in Hollywood trivia, this is the movie that broke up Farrow's marriage to Frank Sinatra. Incensed that she'd taken on the role of Rosemary (apparently Frankie expected Mia to stop work completely after they took the vows), Sinatra had her served with divorce papers on the set. Farrow is said to have fallen to her knees, sobbing, in front of the entire cast and crew, but refused to take a day off filming, instead channelling her distress into the traumatised Rosemary. Ah, method acting...
Screening with 'Rosemary's Baby' will be a more obscure thriller, the 1922 Swedish offering 'Haxan'. The synopsis for this one describes it as 'a witch's brew of the scary, the grotesque and the darkly humorous'-- set in the middle ages.