Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says Iffy for 15+
Keep children away from this scary classic.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this classic horror film addresses occult themes throughout and isn't appropriate for children. Parents should be aware that this film deals frankly with pregnancy and adult sexuality. Characters practice satanic rituals, make bargains with the devil, drink alcohol, and have sex.
- Families can talk about the issues of greed and ambition raised by Guy's character.
- They could also talk about gender issues centering on marriage and
pregnancy, including abusive relationships. What does the film suggest
about women's position in marriage? How do these suggestions relate to
the time period in which the film was produced?
- Who are the monsters in this movie, and what, aside from their affiliation with the occult
makes them monstrous?
The good stuff
Positive messages: There's a strong sense of overwhelming evil (masquerading as nice, ordinary NYC types) against which the waiflike heroine literally doesn't have a prayer in the end. Some have interpreted the movie as being anti-religion -- or pro-Satan -- but the novel's author, Ira Levin, claimed no belief in the devil whatsoever; he just wanted to scare. What's undeniable is the feminist-nightmare vulnerability and victimization of a pregnant young bride, by "society" (embodied by smiling but malevolent and controlling older folks), the medical establishment, and her
own careerist husband.
Positive role models: Rosemary is not herself "evil," but she has largely abandoned her Catholic faith, partially to marriage to a blasphemous non-Catholic actor, and comes across as pathetically weak and helpless against the black-magic conspiracy. She might be seen as giving up to the Satanists in
the end. Actress Mia Farrow's skeletal frame could be an unhealthy body image for anorexia-prone young viewers, but it's faithful to the book, in which Rosemary's diabolical pregnancy makes her lose weight rather than gain. A camera-clicking Japanese character (again, right out of the book) reinforces a cultural stereotype.
What to watch for
Violence: Blood on cars and pavement and a wide-eyed corpse, as the victim of a suicide jumps from an upper floor and is found in the street. Rosemary is physically restrained and injected. She brandishes a knife but ends up not using it. Themes of rape and satanic rituals.
Sexy stuff: Talk of sex and having children, culminating in a dream/nightmare sequence in which Rosemary is drugged by her husband and raped by a barely-seen clawed monstrosity -- presumably Satan. Female back-side nudity and toplessness. Naked over-60 folks (only shown from the shoulders up, mostly) in an occult-ritual setting. Full male nudity, if you want to call it that, in the fresco of Michelangelo’s "Creation of Adam."
Language: Guy berates Rosemary and her friends at several points. God and Jesus' name in vain, "hell" and "bitch."
Consumerism: Mention of Yamaha motorcycles, the board game Scrabble, and Lipton tea.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Social drinking and toasting, talk of inebriation (sometimes used as a cover excuse for evildoing).
Cigarette-smoking is prominent. A marijuana joint is glimpsed at a party of young people (meant as a sort of counterpoint to the oldsters in the witch coven, and their stodgy cocktails and highballs). Sedative pills and injections are administered, and Rosemary is served the demonic equivalent of a date-rape drug.