By Carly Kocurek,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Keep children away from this scary classic.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
There's a strong sense of overwhelming evil (masquerading as nice, ordinary NYC types) against which the waiflike heroine literally doesn't have a prayer in the end. Some have interpreted the movie as being anti-religion -- or pro-Satan -- but the novel's author, Ira Levin, claimed no belief in the devil whatsoever; he just wanted to scare. What's undeniable is the feminist-nightmare vulnerability and victimization of a pregnant young bride, by "society" (embodied by smiling but malevolent and controlling older folks), the medical establishment, and her own careerist husband.
Positive Role Models
Rosemary is not herself "evil," but she has largely abandoned her Catholic faith, partially to marriage to a blasphemous non-Catholic actor, and comes across as pathetically weak and helpless against the black-magic conspiracy. She might be seen as giving up to the Satanists in the end. Actress Mia Farrow's skeletal frame could be an unhealthy body image for anorexia-prone young viewers, but it's faithful to the book, in which Rosemary's diabolical pregnancy makes her lose weight rather than gain. A camera-clicking Japanese character (again, right out of the book) reinforces a cultural stereotype.
Violence & Scariness
Blood on cars and pavement and a wide-eyed corpse, as the victim of a suicide jumps from an upper floor and is found in the street. Rosemary is physically restrained and injected. She brandishes a knife but ends up not using it. Themes of rape and satanic rituals.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Talk of sex and having children, culminating in a dream/nightmare sequence in which Rosemary is drugged by her husband and raped by a barely-seen clawed monstrosity -- presumably Satan. Female back-side nudity and toplessness. Naked over-60 folks (only shown from the shoulders up, mostly) in an occult-ritual setting. Full male nudity, if you want to call it that, in the fresco of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam."
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Guy berates Rosemary and her friends at several points. God and Jesus' name in vain, "hell" and "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
Mention of Yamaha motorcycles, the board game Scrabble, and Lipton tea.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social drinking and toasting, talk of inebriation (sometimes used as a cover excuse for evildoing). Cigarette-smoking is prominent. A marijuana joint is glimpsed at a party of young people (meant as a sort of counterpoint to the oldsters in the witch coven, and their stodgy cocktails and highballs). Sedative pills and injections are administered, and Rosemary is served the demonic equivalent of a date-rape drug.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rosemary's Baby is a classic horror film that addresses occult themes throughout and isn't appropriate for children. Parents should be aware that this film deals frankly with pregnancy and adult sexuality. Characters practice satanic rituals, make bargains with the devil, drink alcohol, and have sex.
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Based on 7 parent reviews
Movie Contains a GRAPHIC SEXUAL ASSAULT
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recommended for ages 14 and over.
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What's the Story?
Pregnancy is difficult – especially if yours is the focal point of an occult ritual. ROSEMARY'S BABY follows the trials of Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow), a young wife whose desire to start a family goes horribly wrong. Her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) joins an occult group, using his wife's uterus as a bargaining chip in a deal to advance his acting career. Guy and Rosemary move into a new apartment building inhabited primarily with elderly people. Shortly afterward, strange things begin happening. A young woman who had been living with the Woodhouse's neighbors leaps to her death. Rosemary hears chanting late at night. As Guy makes a name for himself on stage and screen, Rosemary's pregnancy drains her physically, leaving her frail and in excruciating pain. Despite the reassurances of her doctor, Rosemary grows uneasy about her pregnancy and is suspicious of her husband and neighbors' activities.
Is It Any Good?
Roman Polanski's artful film renders an eerie and frightening world. Mia Farrow is perfect as the increasingly frantic Rosemary. Although scenes of gore and violence are somewhat limited, occult themes are pervasive and may be unsettling even to adults. Based on the novel by Ira Levin, Rosemary's Baby is a film strongly tied to the era that produced it, addressing a number of social issues central to the women's movement of the '60s and '70s, particularly those concerning mental health and pregnancy.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the issues of greed and ambition raised by Guy's character in Rosemary's Baby.
They could also talk about gender issues centering on marriage and pregnancy, including abusive relationships. What does the film suggest about women's position in marriage? How do these suggestions relate to the time period in which the film was produced?
Who are the monsters in this movie, and what, aside from their affiliation with the occult makes them monstrous?
- In theaters: June 12, 1968
- On DVD or streaming: October 3, 2000
- Cast: Mia Farrow, Ralph Bellamy, Ruth Gordon
- Director: Roman Polanski
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 136 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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