Young Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and her struggling, self-possessed actor husband Guy (John Cassavetes) move into a new building. They are shocked and startled by the death of free-spirited tenant Terry (Victoria Veltri), making friends with the kindly Castevets, Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman (Sidney Blackmer), with whom she used to live.
What was originally supposed to be just a friendly visit becomes so much more, Guy spending more and more time with the Castevets just as Rosemary gets pregnant. At first elated, soon she becomes suspicious something might be wrong. Event get more and more mysterious as the months go by, and with the birth approaching the young mother-to-be starts to believe a supernatural force is guiding the Castevets leading her and her unborn child towards a road of everlasting damnation.
Based on the novel by Ira Levin, at this point itís no secret who is actually behind the mysterious pregnancy at the heart of Rosemaryís Baby. Director Roman Polanski, making his Hollywood debut, creates an air of macabre, all-encompassing suspicion and tension thatís been copied many times over the succeeding 44 years but never, ever duplicated. The air of satanic mystery hanging over the proceedings is devastatingly effective, and itís hard not to watch this move without becoming increasingly unsettled as events progress.
Polanski juggles it all with awesome confidence, letting events play out as mundanely and as practically as possible. There is a humdrum banality to Rosemaryís daily interactions thatís instantly relatable, making her descent into witchy madness all the more innervating. The visual compositions he comes up with, the lengths he goes to in order to make sure the frame never quite reveals all that is potentially going on within it, all of it adds together to create a sublime sense of melancholic doom that gets under the viewerís skin. Itís amazing stuff, and having watched the movie a good dozen or so times I can honestly say I have trouble tearing my eyes away from it each and every viewing.
The acting is universally incredible, Gordon the obvious standout (she deserved that Supporting Actor Oscar, thatís for sure) but Farrow, Blackmer, Cassavetes and the great Ralph Bellamy also deserving of high praise as well. Polanski conducts them all with remarkable aplomb, letting the performances mix and mingle in naturalistic fashion while also hinting at the devastatingly emotional travails to come. Combine that with Krsysztof Komedaís instantly recognizable and now iconic score the director manages to produce a seriously involving stew of psychological and physical chaos that changed this particular genre forever, Rosemaryís Baby an indelible masterwork ranking as one of the standout triumphs of Polanskiís entire career.
Rosemaryís Baby is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.85:1/1080p transfer. As stated in the included booklet: ďApproved by director Roman Polanski, this new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from the original 35mm camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, splices, warps and jitter were manually removed using MTIís DRS and Pixel Farmís PFClean, while Image Systemsí Phoenix was used for small dirt, flicker and scratches.Ē
Rosemaryís Baby haunts Blu-ray in English LPCM Mono and includes optional English subtitles. Again, from the included booklet: ďThe original monaural soundtrack with remastered at 24-bt from the original 35mm magnetic soundtrack. Clicks, thumps, hiss and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCubeís integrated workstation.Ē
∑ Remembering Rosemaryís Baby Ė Outstanding retrospective interview featurette with Roman Polanski, actress Mia Farrow and then head of Paramount Robert Evans crafted by Criterion earlier this year.
∑ Ira Levin and Leonard Lopate Ė From 1997, audio piece with the author on Lopateís radio show New York and Company where he talks about the book, Polanskiís film and his (then) new novel Son of Rosemary.
∑ Komeda, Komeda Ė Superb feature-length documentary on composer Krsysztof Komeda, produced for Polish television in 2012.
The Blu-ray also comes with a 29-page Illustrated Booklet featuring an essay critic Ed Park as well as Ira Levinís afterword for the 2003 New American Library edition of Rosemaryís Baby discussing both it and Polanskiís adaptation.
How unsettling is Roman Polanskiís Rosemaryís Baby? So unsettling that, even after nearly five decades, itís still one of the most influential horror thrillers ever made, spawning decades of religiously-themed imitations (some good, most rather terrible) none of which have come close to equally the original. Criterionís Blu-ray is incredible getting high marks across the board, and you donít need witchcraft or the aid of anything supernatural to know this is one release that should be purchased the very moment it goes in sale.