Book to Movie: Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
Published May 3rd 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company 


Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor husband Guy move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and mostly elderly residents. Neighbors Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome the Woodhouses to the building, and despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband takes a shine to them.

Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant—and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare. As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to suspect that the Castavets' circle is not what it seems...

My Thoughts

Rosemary's Baby is a dark but fascinating tale that will keep you up at night. One of the things that struck me the most about this novel is how normal things between Rosemary and Guy are, yet there's a disturbing under story that takes place. 

Guy and Rosemary haven't been married that long. They move into their dream apartment, the Bramford. Rosemary does normal things like grocery shopping and decorating their apartment while Guy, an actor, goes on auditions.  They eat, make love, socialize with friends. All normal day-to-day activities. They meet their neighbors, Roman and Minnie Castavet, who are nosy but sweet. Everything seems normal. Until it isn't.

Rosemary becomes pregnant. This is really the turning point of the novel. Because every mother's fears are realized in Rosemary's pregnancy. Her doctor tells her not to talk to her friends or read any pregnancy books because every pregnancy is different and he doesn't want to alarm her. A true enough statement, except her pregnancy is different. By isolating Rosemary from her friends, family, and knowledge, Rosemary is left naive and vulnerable. Which is exactly where they want her to be. And that makes this book all the more creepy.

Ira Levin seems to know the right buttons to push to make a brutally suspenseful novel that builds slowly and puts you on the edge of your seat. It's no wonder this book has been in print for fifty years. A book about witchcraft and devilry that makes you want to travel with holy water and avoid your neighbors at all cost. I'm not much for horror, but this is an exciting tale.

After reading the book, I knew I had to watch the movie. It was made in 1968 and starred  Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon to name a few. It was directed by Roman Polanski. It won several awards, but the movie is said to be cursed. It's also considered to be a classic horror movie. It's running time is around two hours long. Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes seemed to capture the image I had of their characters Rosemary and Guy. The movie was well cast and pretty much stuck to the book's story line. Though I thought the movie was done well, it didn't quite match the thrilling nature of the book.

One thing I did like is that in the book, is you got a better sense of Rosemary's anguish and the psychological toll that the experiences where taking on her. Her desire to have a healthy baby, to be a good wife, to be a good friend mixed with the crazy circumstances going on around her. And especially when she starts putting the pieces together of what's really going on. The movie is good and is definitely worth watching, but the book is better.