rosemarys baby

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Rosemary’s Baby and the Manson Family Murders

In 1969 Roman Polanski had finally become a success. After a youth devastated by the Holocaust, the loss of his parents, and a mugging that left him on the brink of death, the Polish-born director had moved to Hollywood. He was about to have his first child with his movie-star wife, Sharon Tate; and he had just released the blockbuster film Rosemary’s Baby.
The event that made Roman Polanski famous was a tragedy that shocked the nation. On August 9, 1969, followers of Charles Manson murdered Polanski’s wife and her eight-month-old unborn child along with four close family friends.
Rosemary’s Baby, which recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, stars Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, and Ruth Gorden, who, won an Oscar for her role as the eccentric elderly neighborhood. Charles Grodin made his screen debut as the young obstetrician Dr. Hill. The movie follows Rosemary, a wealthy newlywed, whose life slowly unravels as she discovers she is the focus of a vicious cult of Devil-worshippers.
Although Rosemary’s Baby was released a year before the Manson Family murders occurred, the two events are incredibly similar. Both the movie and the murders happen in the world of show business—Sharon Tate was an actress, Rosemary’s husband is an actor. Both revolve around a beautiful young pregnant woman. Both feature the Devil (the Devil impregnates Rosemary; the Devil was one of Charles Manson’s aliases). Both involve a powerful cult that murders with apparent impunity.
One of the reasons the Manson Family murders shocked the world was the Family’s ability to perform atrocities with no reservations. The acted without hesitation, doubt, or remorse. In Rosemary’s Baby, young Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is at the opposite end of the spectrum, conspicuously unable to act. Rosemary is consumed with so much paralyzing self-doubt and hesitation the viewer is reminded of Hamlet. Unlike Hamlet, Rosemary’s doubt is not sympathetic or noble—or, for that matter, interesting. For the first half an hour Rosemary seems weak. For the second half an hour she appears spineless. Eventually Rosemary’s inaction in the face of overwhelming evidence becomes so acute that she actually stops being a believable character: no one could be this much of a moron.
Here are a few examples. Early in the movie, Rosemary’s husband rapes her while she is passed out drunk. She wakes with scratch marks on her back and no recollection of the previous night’s events.

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