It’s time for a very special book vs. movie post. I’m sure most of you will know Roman Polanski’s iconic film Rosemary’s Baby. In 2014, a remake was shot, consisting of two parts with Zoe Saldana as Rosemary instead of Mia Farrow. I had never realized that the story is actually based on Ira Levin’s book, so I quickly went to the library to catch up…
Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse are a happy young couple. Recently one of their biggest wishes came true. They got an apartment in a famous old building. It all seems to be perfect, even the somewhat irritating elderly neighbors are nice.
Soon Rosemary gets pregnant and Guys starts to change. Ro starts to wonder whether everybody is a bit too nice. Is she just paranoid or onto something?
First of all the novel. Ira Levin certainly created a classic in terms of horror literature. I can see how groundbreaking and shocking it must haven been when it was published in 1967. Today almost everybody knows the story, so there’s not that much a plot twist left to discover, but back in the day it surely was unexpected. I enjoyed the way he builds up the characters, making their every move feel relatable. Despite the many years that have passed and a few things simply not being familiar, I could still lose myself in the story. Moreover, Levin is very subtle about all the horror, that’s what makes it even creepier. Instead of being very in your face all the time, the little hints, the not knowing is what makes your skin crawl.
Let’s see about Roman Polanski’s 1968 adaptation.
This is one of the most famous horror movies ever. In general it stays very true to the original story. I love that Polanski decided to leave out the gore as well and follow Levin by making the whole thing subtle. To a large extent, this film also lives off Mia Farrow’s performance. She is just so relatable, you’ll also start to wonder about your own neighbors. This film definitely sends chills down your spin. It’s a classic for a reason!
In 2014 somebody decided that we need a remake of this thing. But -surprise- it comes in two parts. So, to make get it up to date, a few changes were made – some of those more credible than others. The story is set in Paris instead of New York, which was totally okay. Furthermore, Guy works at University and is a writer, oh and Rosemary already had a miscarriage before coming to France. All those little differences in comparison with the original story work quite well. However, what annoyed me a bit is that Rosemary’s neighbors in this case are much younger than in the book. I guess beautiful people just attract more viewers. Let’s get to the changes that are not only irritating but also just not credible. For example: the original appartement Ro and Guy move into burns down, so the Castevets give them an apartment at their super fancy building – just about for free. The fill it with furniture – but also stack the wardrobe with tons of new clothes. A bit over the top, don’t you think?
Let me just tell you about one scene, then you’ll understand me. While sitting in a cab, Mrs. Castevet smells Rosemary and tell her she smells “ripe”. Only to rush home immediately to prepare some sort of drink for her and Guy that’ll help them conceive. That’s so weird it would have sent me running.
Anyway, it’s not all bad! Zoe Saldana is amazing as Rosemary. She had some big footsteps to fill but she certainly excelled in her role. In contrast to the first movie and the book, there is more gore and scary elements to be found here. But unfortunately it doesn’t help the film. Ultimately it feels to long, as it’s just the same story with nothing new, stretched to twice the time.
The novel is absolutely chilling and Polanski did a great job capturing the atmosphere on film. While Zoe Saldana did a great job taking on Mia Farrow’s part as Rosemary, the new version ultimately can’t compare – at all. So either check out the book or the original adaptation. Both are classics!
Did you read the book? Watch the movie? Let me know in the comments what you think!