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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New interviews with Polanski, actor Mia Farrow, and producer Robert Evans
  • Komeda, Komeda, a feature-length documentary on the life and work of jazz musician and composer Krzysztof Komeda, who wrote the score for Rosemary's Baby
  • 1997 radio interview with author Ira Levin from Leonard Lopate's WNYC program New York and Company on the 1967 novel, the sequel, and the film

Rosemary's Baby

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Roman Polanski
Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Ralph Bellamy, Patsy Kelly, Maurice Evans, Elisha Cook, Jr., Charles Grodin, Tony Curtis
1968 | 136 Minutes | Licensor: Paramount Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #630
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: October 30, 2012
Review Date: October 24, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

Terrifying and darkly comic, Rosemary's Baby marked the Hollywood debut of Roman Polanski. This wildly entertaining nightmare, faithfully adapted from Ira Levin's best seller, stars a revelatory Mia Farrow as a young mother-to-be who grows increasingly suspicious that her overfriendly elderly neighbors, played by Sidney Blackmer and an Oscar-winning Ruth Gordon, and self-involved husband (John Cassavetes) are hatching a satanic plot against her and her baby. In the decades of occult cinema Polanski's ungodly masterpiece has spawned, it's never been outdone for sheer psychological terror.

Forum members rate this film 8.8/10

 

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PICTURE

Criterion presents Roman Polanskiís first American film Rosemaryís Baby on Blu-ray on this dual-layer Blu-ray disc, presenting the film in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with a new 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer.

Taken from a new 4k scan of the film we get a far more natural looking and sharper image than what we previously had with Paramountís older DVD release. Colours look far better and better saturated, with more natural flesh tones. Black levels are excellent, deep and inky with no loss in detail in the shadows. Everything is sharp and clearly defined, never looking soft, and film grain is accurately rendered. Motion is clean and smooth, and no artifacts are present. And finally, though I donít actually recall the film looking rough in any of its home video incarnations, I was especially impressed with how clean this looks other than a few minor marks that are easy to look over. Ultimately itís the best the film has ever looked on home video and Criterion delivers another stunning transfer.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The lossless PCM mono track offers a nice upgrade as well. Dialogue and music come off clean and free of problems, with no distortion or edginess. It sounds natural, with surprisingly excellent fidelity, and sounds like it could have been recorded recently. It ends up delivering a surprisingly robust presentation, especially for a more than 40 year old mono track.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

We only get a few items but in total they run over 2-hours. First is the 46-minute Remebering Rosemaryís Baby featuring interviews with director Roman Polanski, actress Mia Farrow, and producer Robert Evans, the latter of which here looks the part of a stereotypical Hollywood producer more so than usual. There was a similar feature on the Paramount DVD and this one covers some of the same ground but manages to go a little deeper into the production. Again we hear about how Evans, studio chief at Paramount at the time, took the project away from William Castle, who had optioned the rights of Ira Levinís novel. His thoughts were that Castle, known more for his cheap, schlocky films, wouldnít do the novel justice, and that he should bring in Polanski and his European sensibilities. As mentioned in the supplements of Criterionís Downhill Racer, Polanski was attracted over to the States with the promise of doing that film but Evans would eventually lure the director over to doing Rosemaryís Baby, after fighting with the studio to allow him to direct. From here the three participants recall the stressful production, where Polanski fell behind in schedule almost immediately. Farrow talks about her divorce from Frank Sinatra, whose lawyers served her divorce papers right on the set, and Polanski recalls the rather heated working relationship between him and John Cassavetes, who had issues with Polanskiís more controlling style of directing. The three also talk about the other actors, including Ruth Gordon, and Evans talks about the great marketing that a third party firm came up with for the film after Paramountís own department couldnít figure out how to sell the film. I was actually surprised by the level of honesty and the overall straight-forward nature of the piece (though Polanski respects Cassavetes he was obviously annoyed by him, even calling him a ďpain in the ass.Ē) Great set of interviews.

Criterion then includes an audio interview from a 1997 episode of WNYCís program New York and Company between Ira Levin and Leonard Lopate. It was done around the time of the release of Levinís sequel to Rosemaryís Baby, Son of Rosemary. Itís primarily about that novel and thereís quite a bit of discussion about it, including the fact there was a movie in the works where Levin hoped Mia Farrow would reprise her role, and maybe Brad Pitt could play the now adult son. Of course that never came to light (the book was pretty much panned and the movie, as of now, is dead.) But they also cover some of Levinís other works and talk about the film adaptations of his other novels, where he states he was not fond of the original Stepford Wives and thought Sliver was a confused mess. But he has the utmost respect for Polanskiís adaptation of Rosemaryís Baby calling it the truest adaptation of a novel heís ever seen. I was disappointed that itís mostly about the then-new novel, which isnít a surprise since heís obviously there to promote it, but it was great hearing his opinion on other adaptations, talk about his work, and even go over what his intentions were with Rosemaryís Baby. It runs 19-minutes.

The disc then closes with a 71-minute made-for-TV documentary, Komeda, Komeda, about Polish Jazz musician and future film composer Krzysztof Komeda, who scored plenty of Polish films, including Polanskiís. He would eventually move to Hollywood briefly (before a tragic accident) after Polanski requested him to do the score for Rosemaryís Baby. The documentary, which features interviews from those who knew him, including other musicians and film directors (like Polanski and Andrzej Wajda,) is a pretty standard biographical piece. It doesnít seem to offer a definitive representation of the man but it gives a decent account of his life and work, from his early days as a musician to his eventual move to Hollywood.

The disc then comes with an excellent booklet featuring an essay by Ed Park followed by an essay by Ira Levin written in 2003 where the author recalls his novel and Polanskiís film version, which he again calls the best and truest literary adaptation he had seen, where Polanski had every little detail from the novel in place (he jokes that maybe Polanski didnít know he could change things if he wanted to.) As another little treat we get recreations of Levinís notes on the characters and even his sketches of the apartment layout.

The interviews from Paramountís DVD are missing, which isnít a huge loss if only because the interviews here pretty much cover everything found there and then some. But oddly Criterion hasnít included the original making-of featurette that was on that disc, though Criterion splices some of that behind-the-scenes footage into the interview segment on this disc. Despite that loss these supplements are certainly far better and more insightful, even if the expected scholarly material is missing.

8/10

CLOSING

Iím still surprised Paramount let this one go but it couldnít have fallen into better hands. Though I am a bit disappointed in the lack of more scholarly material (the film was a huge influence on the horror genre) the supplements are still incredibly strong, the making-of being far better and more informative than most of its type. Throw in a stunning, filmic transfer and the disc comes with a high recommendation.


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