Mia Farrow looks into a carriage in publicity portrait for the film 'Rosemary's Baby', 1968. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)
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The Rosemary's Baby Controversy Explained
Content Warning
The following story contains discussions of sexual assault.
"Rosemary's Baby" was well-received by critics and did well at the box office, even though the Catholic church gave it a "C" rating for "Condemned." However, the church’s resistance to the film wasn't the only controversy the film has faced through the years.
British Censorship
British censors cut 15 seconds of the film where a woman suggests that Rosemary have her legs tied down "in case of convulsions." Apparently, the censors were okay with a woman getting raped by Satan, and her husband having sex with her while she was passed out. Just so long as there was no "kinky" sex involved in the scene.
The Curse
Like other occult or supernatural movies, "Rosemary's Baby" also has a reputation for being cursed. Composer Krzysztof Komeda fell off a cliff and died after spending four months in a coma. William Castle fell ill with kidney stones and almost died. And Polanski's pregnant wife Sharon Tate was a victim of the Manson Family.
Polanski fled the U.S. when charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl, so the fact that he helmed this film is also a point of controversy. As Anne Cohen stated in an article, “[...] It's hard to get around the big elephant in the room: that this nuanced, empathetic story with a female lead was written for the screen, and directed by a man accused of raping a teenage girl.”
Despite the curses and the controversy, "Rosemary's Baby" remains widely regarded as a horror classic. Selected for preservation by the National Film Registry, its reputation as a masterpiece will long survive its problematic creator.