Warsaw arthouse celebrates 50th anniversary of Polański classic, Rosemary's Baby

Polish poster of Rosemary's Baby gapla.fn.org.pl

It was 50 years ago today that Roman Polański’s dark, satanic psychological horror Rosemary’s Baby first hit the big screen.

Based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Ira Levin, the film tells the story of a pregnant woman whose baby is taken by an evil cult for use in their rituals. 

The cast was a mix of A-list actors alongside lesser-known ones including Mia Farrow as Mrs. Rosemary Woodhouse, John Cassavetes as Mr. Guy Woodhouse, Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet and Sidney Blackmer as Roman Castevet.

Contemporary reception of the movie was good with Variety magazine saying ‘Writer-director Roman Polanski has triumphed in his first US-made pic’, and the New York Times describing Farrow’s performance as ‘outstanding.’

Although the movie gained only one Academy Award, for Ruth Gordon in Best Supporting Actress category, the film went on to gain legendary status as one of the best horrors ever done, being named as one of Stanley Kubrick’s favourite films, and is today still considered a living classic. 

In 2014, the film was added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry for its ‘cultural, historic and aesthetic significance’.

This film also went down in history thanks to its score composed by the famous Polish jazz musician Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969). His collaboration with Polański dates back to the beginning of the director’s career; in 1958 Komeda wrote music for Polański’s very first, short, black and white movie ‘Two Men and a Wardrobe’. Later he provided the music score for such significant films as ‘Knife in the Water’ (1962), ‘Cul-de-sac’ (1966) or ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ (1967).

Rosemary’s Baby’s theme tune, "Rosemary's Lullaby" (also known as "Sleep Safe and Warm"), was the last score written by Komeda for Polański. Sung by Mia Farrow it is considered one of the most important contributions by a Polish composer to the history of world cinematography. 

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rosemary's Baby’s world premiere there will be a special show today at 8 p.m. at Iluzjon Cinema in Warsaw, an arthouse cinema under the care of the Polish National Film Archive.