A couple of years ago there was a debate going on in the Filmspotting forum about which movie was the better – Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist. It appears as if The Exorcist won at that time with slim marginal, counting 15 votes to 11.
I haven’t cast my vote yet, since it’s been too long since I watched either of them. I didn’t remember very much, apart from the head spinning in The Exorcist, which I believe freaked me out quite a bit back in the days.
But I’m soon to find out and make a call. It turned out that my local film club is running a horror theme this autumn and will show both of them.
First out was Rosemary’s Baby last week, and honestly believe The Exorcist will have a tough time to beat it.
This story about a pregnant woman and her increasing suspicions about the intentions of the people in her immediate neighborhood is still unsettling, even if the movie is over forty years old.
It proves that you don’t need splatter and gore, flying heads and jumping effects to reach a satisfying level of scariness; a good script and good acting is all it takes.
In my case I suppose it helped a bit that I’m quite easily frightened and that I’ve been through two pregnancies and easily could identify myself with Rosemary. The worries you feel, especially expecting your first child, can sometimes border to paranoia. You’re prone to follow whatever “expert” advice that is tossed in your direction, but sometimes you end up in the middle of conflicting ideas. And whatever you feel from inside – kicks or lack of kicks, pain or lack of pain, you take as a bad omen. The whole situation of carrying a different life inside you is quite unreal. Rosemary’s Baby launches from those fears that already are there, just pulling them a little bit further.
Mia Farrow, only 23 years old at the time when the movie was recorded, is absolutely splendid as Rosemary. Watching her I felt with a pang how much I’ve missed her. I think the last time I watched her on the screen must have been in 1992 in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives. After they broke up, she went off my radar.
It remains to see if The Exorcist can top Rosemary’s Baby. From an esthetic perspective I doubt it can beat it. I’m usually completely unaware of and uninterested in fashion. But the design from the 60s and the seemingly endless wardrobe of Rosemary’s made me even me drool.
Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski US, 1968) My rating: 4/5