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Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Even Darker Side to One of My Favorite Halloween Movies "Rosemary's Baby"! Part One: History

Rosemary's baby
 In honor of Halloween I decided to dissect one of my favorite horror movies, Rosemary's Baby (1968). I tend to like psychological thrillers rather than slasher movies. It is one movie that I have to watch during the Halloween season. It is scary, intense and a little bit comically too.Rosemary's Baby has it all! It has satanic worshippers, the Infamous Dakota, Midwesterners new to NY, and a tie to the director, Roman Polanski as well. 

  But it is important to also see what was going on during the time the book by Ira Levin was written! The movie has everything to make it a cult movie. But the themes that are within the movies and the fears are not just a fictional "monster in the house genre." It is not just a great directing or script writing where for some reason Rosemary cannot escape the Bramford. There is not an irrational fear of Satanic people that came from no where. There was actually a rise of Satan worshiping in California and there was also a connection to music/actors. The Satanic leader The church of Satan was formed April 30, 1966 and the book "Rosemary's Baby" was published March 12, 1967.

   There were hippie communes in San Francisco before the summer of love. In the book and movie Hutch and Rosemary remark about how Roman has pierced ears. Pierced ears on the East Coast was rare and it also was more of a rock n roll, Beatnik or Hippie sort of event. The Hippie counter-culture was born in the mid 1960s.  January 14,1967, three months before the book was written, the famous "Human Be-In" happened in San Francisco and popularized the Hippie movement. That summer would be dubbed the summer of Love. 

  A mid-westerner like Rosemary would not approve of such connections to the hippie culture. Also what is interesting that perhaps Roman would be a sort of Hippie because they did light incense and they did like to chant. Perhaps that smell was not tannis root but rather pot they smelled! Hutch would find it funny because who would have thought of an old man hanging out with such young college students?

  1967 was not the "Summer of Love" myth that we hear about peace, love, and understanding with a little bit of drug experimentation. The American Experience a PBS show in the documentary "Summer of Love"  basically suggests that this idea of "The Summer of Love" is like the stories of George Washington and the Cherry Tree. The idea of "The Summer of Love" was a myth that cause a greatest migration of young people in the history of America to San Francisco, CA. In fact the baby boomers during this time were the largest number of people under 25 in American History. There were not girls with flowers in their hair and in fact there were many runaways who had to prostitute themselves. People did not realize that San Francisco got cold and froze because a lot unwisely came to San Francisco bare footed. 

  The baby boomers American Experience says during this time of high school and college were post wars, they had access to more money and higher education. They were told to shove down any issues they might have because their parents/grandparents had it harder. It was the sense that there was nothing to complain about anymore so that they should be content. They were told that material possessions and prosperity should quell them. They were living in an age of heavy consumerism focused on their young trends, plastic, pills, idea that frozen/chemically alter products are better food, portable record players and radios. 

 We see the main culture and focus on consumerism in the scenes where Guy was a Yamaha motor cycle spokesman on TV ads. Also how Rosemary models her kitchen and puts the table in the kitchen after a page in a magazine. Also that she spent $200.00 just on one chair that was new and fancy. To put the price in context around that time my parents put a down payment on their first house for $50.00! I used an inflation calculator and it determined that $200.00 in 1966 has the same buying power as of $1402.09 today! They are buying an apartment that is too expensive for them since guy only works part time and Rosemary does not work at all. They are definitely feeding into the main culture!

  With being with more affluence they were afforded the ability to look at spirituality and not just the doctrine of religion. Ironically those that had money were often the hippies who believe that money was the root of all evil. It is in my opinion like those in Italy that flirt with Socialism yet he or she is from a rich family. It is often easy to say that you can live without something that you already have too much and can spare. Also what might work in a small community does not do well when all of a sudden 20-30,000 people show up to claim the "experience." The hippies were not ready to share with that many people who were not also shown how to do LSD for "enlightenment." Also runaways who were flooding in were too different from the original Hippies in the area and were younger. Runaways are not an easy population to make roots because they are not as trusting. 

  In fact it was more like the way that Led Zeppelin band wrote in their 1971 hit "Going to California." Someone told me there's a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair. But when they got there Tryin' to find a woman who's never, never, never been born. Apparently the song was about earthquakes and how both Plant and Paige were in love with Joni Mitchell the folks singer. However you could say that those young kids came to San Francisco thinking they were going to be happy, get some sun, get high and be in an utopia. But when they got there it was probably a worse situation than they left. Those that did not have money, they had to resort to prostitution, they went hungry, there were high crime rates and became more than a casual user of drugs. The high volume of people going into San Francisco caused a stress on the resources of the city started the break down of the facade of an "Utopia." 

  The Hippies were not working jobs, in 1966 Acid was legal in California, and too many people were sleeping in the parks. So many people were sleeping in parks that eventually both LSD and sleeping in parks were banned. Drug dealers were taking advantage of young and "stupid" kids by pushing highly addictive drugs to get them to be indebted to them. They pushed speed, Cocaine and Heroin. It was no longer about reaching inner peace but rather just becoming junkies. The original  hippies left San Francisco looking for Gurus. Those that were drug addicts stayed and stores catered to tourist who wanted to pretend they were hippies for a weekend. The people left were not people but because of the drugs were more like animals. The drugs were not about freeing your mind but rather these drugs caused paranoia. People had STDs and were not taking care of their bodies. The care free hippies that got hooked on these drugs were Paranoid junkies. 

Mia Farrow, Beatles and their Guru

George Harrison at Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, 7 August 1967

  When George Harrison went to San Francisco during what was supposed to be the Summer of Love they were very disappointed. They went there to see his wife's sister. He thought it would be with beautiful, free-love and just happiness. Instead they just saw sadness! That was apparently the last time he took drugs for enlightenment and was looking for more spiritual enlightenment. 

  That was then that he had been interested in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. By February 1968 he had become their spiritual advisers. Interestingly enough both Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence joined them. In fact Dear Prudence was about Mia's sister Prudence. There was rumors according to John Lennon that the Guru tried to rape Mia Farrow and that did not fly with them. The wrote Sexy Sadie about how horrified they were with the Maharishi. Originally it was just going to be called Maharishi but George Harrison convinced them to change it to "Sexy Sadie." It was mostly about how great of a con man Maharishi was and how everyone was paying for enlightenment he was more than willing to sell. Also that he had a small dick and it was not cool that he was trying to rape Mia! 

  There are rumors that I have read that apparently the church of Satan realized they were not happy with their guru. Since they left their spiritual advisor they saw that they could fill a void in the Beatles, gain a crazy amount of followers and were trying to court them. 

 Around this time of drug and paranoia The Church of Satan crept up also San Francisco on April 30, 1966. The Leader was Anton Szandor LaVey who the character Roman Castevets'/ Steven Mercato is based on. Anton wrote The Satanic bible and was the High Priest of the movement which spoke about human nature and goals of materialism. Anton LaVey is known as the Black Pope of the Church of Satan.

   At a time of a counter culture against materialism, aka Hippies, there is a counter culture that is taking the culture importance of material goods to another level. Anton ran away to the circus at 16 and then worked carnivals. He was a musician and a lot of his history that he claims about himself has not been verified. He claims to have had relations with Marilyn Monroe when he was a musician and she was a dancer. He had been giving lectures on the occult and his followers said that he had a religion. Anton brought in ex-hippies, musicians and those in Hollywood. People were looking for spirituality and the young people were very angry. Plus one should not be surprised that Californians after getting bored with hippies were drawn to Satanism. There is always seems to be some sort of fad religion like Christian Scientology, Wicca, Kabbalah and etc that the Californians are more than willing to try out.

  Interestingly at the time of this movie Mia Farrow got her divorce papers from Frank Sinatra on set because he wanted her to work on a movie with her. I think that there are a lot of situations that happen when Mia Farrow is around. I am thinking there is more to the story. Roman was a known womanizer and Mia Farrow seemed to be a rather free spirit that attracted a lot of suiters. I have seen pictures of Mia with a lot of celebrities and she stole Andre Previn from his wife! His wife Dory Previn wrote a song about her called "Beware of Young Girls." I am wondering if Frank was not a fool and he might have had reasons to think that Mia and Roman were more than a working relationship. Why else would Frank Sintra be so key on her working on the movie "The Detective" I however could not find any information supporting this so I can only suggest that there has to be more to the story of Mia being served divorce papers on the set of this movie. 

  Frank Sinatra was also  in the Rat Pack which had Sammy Davis Junior in it. Apparently Sammy Davis Junior was a card carrying member of the Church of Satan. Just something else to tag onto the creepy connection of Mia Farrow to "Rosemary's Baby!" I do not mean to say that Mia Farrow was into Satanism nor do think this is the reason Frank broke off the marriage. I just find it an interesting factoid. 

  You cannot talk about the history going into the movie and book without quickly talking about what happened to Roman after he shot the movie. It is ironic the fact that people associated with The Church of Satan murdered Roman Polanski's wife.  Sharon Tate had been married to Roman since January 1968 and had become pregnant. 

   She was fearful that Roman was going to ask her to have an abortion. She did not tell him that she was pregnant until she was leaving for the movie "The Thirteen Chairs" in March of 1969. Roman had numerous times told Sharon he did not want children because of his experiences growing up in occupied Poland. Roman felt that "the world was too violent, and too cruel, to bring a child into." Roman was not faithful to Sharon. Sharon was not trying to change him but she wanted him to change. She was preparing to be a mother and Roman's womanizing ways were getting to her. 

Mia Farrow, Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate (I believe).
  In fact Roman does a very good job at creating a very paranoid filled set. Perhaps this idea that the world was too violent and too cruel to bring in children is what created the intense everyday situations.  It is interesting with to note that Roman Polanski wrote the screenplay and wanted Sharon in the role. Sharon could have done Rosemary very well as her relationship was much like that of Guy and Rosemary's. Roman ignored Sharon. There is a scene where Rosemary invites all her young friends says to one of her friends and this is what is said: 

Rosemary Woodhouse: [crying] I *won't* have an abortion!
Joan Jellico, Rosemary's Girlfriend: But no body's telling you to have an abortion!
Elise Dunstan: Rosie, a pain like that is a clear sign that something is not right. We just want you to get another opinion, see someone else, that's all.
Tiger, Rosemary's girlfriend: Yeah, some doctor besides that... that... *nut*!

Knowing that Sharon was afraid to tell Roman that she was pregnant in fear that he would make her have an abortion is ironic. It is ironic when you see it in this context.  

  Before Sharon Tate left for her movie Charles Manson (one could say close to the devil himself for the time) had shown up at the house incorrectly thinking it was the Melcher's residence. So around the time that Roman was about to discover, or knew that Sharon was pregnant, Manson was at the house. A photographer friend told Manson to go to the guest house and Manson went back to speak to Altobelli.  Manson had also been hanging around Dennis Wilson, a beach boy. Altobelli who was living in the guest house remembered him from the previous year as he was at a party at Dennis Wilson. At the party Dennis Wilson was actually playing some of Charles Manson's songs. Tate before she left for Italy remarked about how creepy Charles Manson was. 

  Tate however got over the fear that Roman might want her to have an abortion. She was excitedly awaiting the birth of her child. She returned after filming her movie to watch the moon landing July 20, 1969. In August 8, 1969, 8.5 month Pregnant Sharon Tate was brutally murdered by the Manson Family.Ironically and tragically ending in a Cruel and violent end weeks before the child was due! 

Annie Leibovitz picture of Yoko Ono and John Lennon taken on December 8, 1980

  Roman Polanski also recommended that John Lennon get an apartment in The Dakota where the movie was shot.  December 8, 1980 John Lennon was shot in front of the Dakota by Mark David Chapman. It was ironic that Roman's wife was murdered because of a Beatle's song, Helter Skelter. Roman's good recommendation of the Dakota was where John Lennon was eventually killed. On the day he was killed he was at a photo shoot. There is a picture that was shot where he in the fetal position with Yoko Ono. John Lennon sang a duet with David Bowie called "Fame" which mentions "what you need is in the limo. Lennon had been riding in a limo" before he was shot. David Bowie sang a song "Space Oddity" about a man in outer space. Before Sharon Tate came back to America to see the Moon Landing. If you want to get extra weird it is the fact that Fellini's movie "8 1/2 was the movie that beat Roman Polanski's movie "Knife in the Water" at the Oscars. At the time of Helter Skelter Sharon Tate was 8.5 months pregnant and they slashed her belly. A Pregnant woman before she starts in labor her water breaks. Thus when they slashed her body they put a knife in the water.

   These are just of course interesting ties that are not to be looked at beyond the fact that they are just interesting. Not conspiracy theory but just odd! There is a lot of darkness that is in this movie. More than I originally thought when I was researching the history! If you look it as Roman looks at it, the world is violent and cruel. So we should not try to connect a dot but rather just accept that bad things happen and we should not analyze it. Analyzing it would give the bad deeds too much power! 

   Next week look for The Even Darker Side to One of My Favorite Halloween Movies "Rosemary's Baby"! Part One Part Two: Analysis.