'Rosemary's Baby' Was Rated C For Condemned By The Catholic Church
Many movie twists are some variation on the same idea: "None of this was real." It was all a dream, we learn in the end. Or, the main character's insane and just imagined the whole thing. The twist occasionally works well but otherwise deeply frustrates viewers, who end the story wondering what the point was. Then came Rosemary's Baby, which pulled off a double twist. Rosemary appears to have a terrifying dream, or might be losing her mind, but no—in the end, it was all real, and even more scary than she feared.
This double twist would itself become a bit of a cliché in the years to come (now, when the heroine doubts her sanity when the movie's far from done, you know she's sane and her earlier fears were right). But if you were around in 1968, you might have watched Rosemary's Baby and been surprised. Unless you were an obedient Catholic and avoided the film, as it was forbidden.
At the time, an organization called the Catholic Legion of Decency issued guidance on which movies Catholics could watch. If the Legion rated a movie "A," that meant it was fine. "B" meant that they objected to the movie, though only in part. Rosemary's Baby received the harshest rating, "C," which meant it was "condemned."
Reading this now in the 21st century, you might imagine that this was one group of nutters, while the Pope in Rome instead said, "Why are you worrying about movies? Jesus had but one worldly commandment: Be excellent to each other." Actually, the Pope at the time told church leaders that they must review movies to guide the flock morally, and he personally laid out the three-tier rating system. Though a Cincinnati bishop started the Catholic Legion of Decency on his own in 1934, the Pope issued an encyclical in 1957 formalizing the rating system, advising all Catholics to avoid immoral films, and forbidding Catholic movie projectionists from screening films that are condemned.
Initially, mainly foreign films got the C rating, but the Legion went on to condemn movies many of you have seen, from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They rejected Rosemary's Baby for "mockery of religious persons and practices." Though, the religious people getting mocked were Satan worshippers, and as Lil Nas X pointed out, such practices don't really need the Church's defense. Hey, what if the Legion was secretly working for Satan all along? The proof was right in their name, how did we miss this?
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Top image: Paramount Pictures