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Rosemary's Baby: The Criterion Collection - Blu-ray Review

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Rosemary's Baby - Blu-ray Review

5 Stars

Roman Polanski’s American debut arrived with Rosemary’s Baby in 1968 and, to this day, the film remains a blistering masterpiece of mood, art, and mayhem. There’s a reason this tale is considered by many to be the benchmark of filmic horror entertainment.  It’s also one of the few horror films to be allowed into the gates of the Criterion Collection. That fact alone should tell you all you need to know about the quality of Polanski’s thriller.

Adapted from a novel by Ira Levin, Rosemary’s Baby tells the tale of a young couple’s pregnancy after moving into an old Manhattan building with a very dark past.  Struggling actor Guy (John Cassavetes) and his stay-at-home wife Rosemary (Mia Farrow) find their peacefully happy lives suddenly interrupted with a dinner invitation from the elderly eccentric couple - Minnie (Ruth Gordon in a wonderfully twisted performance) and Roman Castevet (Sidney Blackmer) – who live next door.

The two couples, in spite of their age differences, are fast friends and share their innermost secrets over a span of a couple of months.  When a drugged Rosemary is impregnated, in a bizarre psychedelic scene that matches anything Kubrick assembled during his reign, suspicions are cast on everyone – including Guy – as Rosemary realizes that her kindly neighbors are up to something entirely evil and a bit mind-bending.

Featuring a fine performance by Ralph Bellamy and the film debut of a very young Charles Grodin, Rosemary’s Baby is heightened in intensity by the wonderfully engaged performances from every single member of the cast. The sweetness of Farrow (who had only previous done Soap Operas) is matched by the general aloofness of Cassavetes.  Still, it is the three-time Oscar nominated Gordon who steals the show and, for lack of a better expression, is simply a fully-rounded hoot.  She’s every bit deserving of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar she took home that year.

Shot by cinematographer William Fraker, Polanski manages to guide each scene with an avant-garde edge that keeps the film feeling fresh and intelligent.  While confined to a large apartment for most of the picture, the standout quality of the scenes, when added together, provide a sinister spaciousness that teases audiences with its own homegrown nightmarish situation.  That’s part of the magic in this maze.

Before the horror of her reality can physically transform Farrow (who debuts her famous boy-cut hair style as her health plummets during the ongoing stages of her demonic pregnancy), the audience is sucked into the baffling situation as her neighbors seem more interested in the baby than she does.  Visual Hypnotics 101.  Take note, Film School junkies.  Polanski is in full command of this darkly comic treatment of a pregnancy gone hellishly wrong.

Details linger, suspicions are thwarted, reaffirmed, and thwarted again in this paranoid free-for-all that ends in a classic exercise of mesmerizing horror.  Rosemary’s Baby, now available on blu-ray, is a superb classic of the genre.

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Rosemary's Baby - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 136 mins.
Director
: Roman Polanski
Writer
: Roman Polanski
Cast:
Mia Farrow; John Cassavetes; Ruth Gordon; Maurice Evans; Ralph Bellamy
Genre: Horror | Drama | Mystery
Tagline:
Pray for Rosemary's Baby
Memorable Movie Quote: "Pregnant women are supposed to gain, not lose weight!"
Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 12, 1968
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 30, 2012

Synopsis: A young couple move into a new apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins controlling her life.

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Rosemary's Baby - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie
 
Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars
 
4 stars
     
Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 30, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: LPCM Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Presented by the Criterion Collection, the 1080p transfer – mined from a progressive scan of the original 35mm negative and fleshed out with a robust AVC encode – is a true delight of film.  The photography – made when we actually used real film – is a testament to filmic texture.  With more depth in the scenes than previously noticed by this reviewer, the remastering job does indeed bless this picture with brand new life.  Colors are bold and full of juice.  Fine detail is luxurious and facial tones are smoothly spot-on.  Jazz musician’s Krzysztof Komeda’s score is presented in a vibrantly balanced in an uncompressed 1.0 LCPM soundtrack that is surprisingly full of life.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Given the history of the film, it’s a little bit of downer that there are not any more than three supplemental items - not including the 28-page booklet that accompanies the release – to showcase the importance and magnificence of the picture.  The special features begin with a newly-made Criterion documentary that covers – from beginning to the modern day – the making and importance of the picture.  It runs about 45-minutes and features new interviews with Producer Robert Evans, director Roman Polanski, and Mia Farrow.  Some of the more interesting details covered in this production are the many fights that occurred between Cassavetes and Polanski and Frank Sinatra’s interference with the picture (as he served Farrow with divorce papers during the shoot).  Interesting items of discussion indeed.  This is followed by an audio recording of author Ira Levin's September 1997 appearance on WNYC's New York and Company.  The topics range from the film, to the sequel he had just published called Son of Rosemary.  Finally, Criterion rounds out the release with a 2012 Polish television documentary celebrating the life and work of Krzysztof Komeda, the jazz musician who provided the film with its haunting score.

  • Remembering Rosemary’s Baby (48 min)
  • Ira Levin Interview (20 min)
  • Komeda Komeda (70 min)

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