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Roman Polanski
Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon
Writing Credits:
Roman Polanski

A young mother-to-be grows increasingly suspicious that her overfriendly elderly neighbors and self-involved husband hatch a satanic plot against her and her baby.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English Dolby TrueHD Monaural
German Dolby Monaural
French Dolby Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 136 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 5/25/2021

• “A Retrospective” Featurette
• “Mia and Roman” Featurette
• 2 Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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Rosemary's Baby [Blu-Ray] (1968)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 19, 2023)

Back in 1991, Tower Records ran a movie trivia contest packed with a long roster of obscure questions. These days the Internet would allow me to find the desired details, but back then the task required lots of serious research.

Since the reward seemed terrific - a big-screen TV and a top-of-the-line laserdisc player - and since I had little else to do during the summer before grad school started, I jumped into this activity with zeal. One of the questions related to a famous horror movie that used Beethoven's "Für Elise" as a motif.

From the phrasing of the query, I thought it was likely 1968’s Rosemary's Baby acted as the answer. To be sure, I rented the movie and watched it.

Yes, it was the one in question - there's one correct answer! Unfortunately, I either slipped up along the way or lost a tie-breaker to someone else, because I didn't get the grand prize. Well, it was fun to play movie detective for a while anyway.

I wish I could relate that I liked Rosemary's Baby in 1991 as well, but I found the experience dull at best so I didn't understand the enduring appeal of the film. However, since I know my opinions aren't written in stone, I decided to give Baby another shot.

With additional examination, I changed my mind about Rosemary's Baby. While I'm not sure it deserves its status as a horror classic, I thought it was a pretty solid little film, as director Roman Polanski creates a creepy and unnerving atmosphere in which this quiet but effective psychological thriller thrives.

Young married couple Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy (John Cassavetes) Woodhouse move into a Manhattan apartment house with a sinister history. Soon after they arrive, some nasty events occur but things generally seem good.

The Woodhouses make friends with the Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman (Sidney Blackmer) Castevet, the nosy old couple next door, and Rosemary finds that she's pregnant with her first child. Things don’t stay quite so rosy for Rosemary, however, as she experiences a great deal of pain during her pregnancy.

Complications ensue, and she slowly becomes suspicious of a variety of circumstances. These continue through and beyond the delivery of her child.

And that's all I'll say, as it's best to leave the events of Baby undiscussed. Actually, I'm not sure how surprising the plots twists and turns may be, but I sure wouldn't want them spelled out to me in advance. While the movie works mainly due to its execution, the uncertainty in its story contributes as well.

Polanski had the sense to build the tension slowly and quietly. Perhaps I didn't like Baby in 1991 because it's not a slam-bang horror movie.

Its chills seem more subtle, without any big "scare" moments. In the long run, however, I think it's an effective model.

The flick's insidious nature sticks with you after the film ends. It's one of those pictures that can be hard to dispel from your head.

In addition to Polanski's effective pacing, Baby works due to some strong performances. I've never much liked Farrow but she provides a nice turn as Rosemary.

The character goes through a wide variety of moods and changes throughout the film, and Farrow achieves these effortlessly. In fact, she develops the role so seamlessly that I didn't really recognize these changes until the film ended. Rosemary becomes a very different person by the conclusion but Farrow makes the transition clean and smooth.

The supporting actors also provide sterling work with no weak links. Gordon earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as Minnie, but all of the others are equally good, so it’s a quality group.

Speaking of actors, Baby contains one cute inside joke. Early in the film, Rosemary meets fellow tenant Terry, played by Angela Dorian. Rosemary states that Terry looks like actress Victoria Vetri, but Terry protests that she doesn't see the resemblance.

The gag? Dorian is Victoria Vetri. "Angela Dorian" was another name that she used for some films and for her appearance as a Playboy Playmate in 1967.

My only significant complaint about Rosemary's Baby relates to the ending. Although the filmmakers apparently think it’s vague - as they mention in the supplements - I disagree.

I feel the finale spells out far too much and tells us more than we need to know. As such, the movie loses some of its impact through this too-graphic conclusion.

Despite that flaw, I like Rosemary's Baby. I don't think it's a brilliant film, but it accomplishes what it sets out to do and does so with flair and strong craftsmanship.

Baby set the table for later pictures like The Exorcist and The Omen. It belongs among the better films of that genre.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Rosemary’s Baby appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a quality reproduction of a challenging film.

Overall sharpness looked strong. Mild softness appeared throughout the movie, but that was a filmmaking choice; the flick was rarely razor sharp – especially during interiors – due to intentional design.

This meant image appeared to fit the original product. None of this softness distracted, as the picture showed more than adequate clarity.

I noticed no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes failed to appear. I discerned no digital noise reduction; the film came with a satisfying sense of grain. Some brief moments of “frozen grain” appeared during the opening credits but not later.

In addition, print flaws were essentially absent. Outside of a couple of small marks during the opening credits, this was a clean presentation.

Colors generally appeared nicely accurate and clear, and at times I saw some warm and vibrant hues. This wasn't a film from which I'd expect a lot of lively colors, and much of the movie used a semi-bland palette. However, when bright hues were appropriate, they looked sumptuous.

Black levels seemed nicely deep and dark with acceptable contrast, and shadow detail usually appeared pretty clean and concise, although some scenes were a bit dim.

As with the mild softness, however, I felt this represented the original photography and didn’t come as a “flaw”. This was a consistently positive presentation given the age and limitations of the source.

I also felt pleased with the Dolby TrueHD monaural soundtrack of Rosemary's Baby. Dialogue came across as slightly stiff and tinny but it remained clear and intelligible at all times with no signs of edginess. Effects were relatively crisp and clean and showed no distortion.

Music seemed lively and brisk. The score even offered some decent bass at times, such as during the scene when Rosemary trotted around New York on her own.

I detected no evidence of background noise. The track sounded pretty solid for a 55-year-old mono mix.

How did the 2021 Blu-ray compare to Criterion release from 2012? Both sported monaural audio, and I thought the 2021 release’s Dolby TrueHD mix sounded virtually identical to the 2012’s LPCM material.

Visuals also seemed highly similar. If any differences occurred, they remained minor enough to become a draw between the two, so don’t expect a clear upgrade – or downgrade – from the 2021 version.

None of the Criterion set’s extras appear here, as instead, we get elements from the circa 2000 DVD. A Retrospective spans 16 minutes, 58 seconds and provides circa 1999 interviews with producer Robert Evans, production designer Richard Sylbert, and director Roman Polanski.

We learn some interesting tidbits such as how the project was developed and what other actors were considered for the lead roles. Due to its length, the feature is not terribly comprehensive, but I found it stimulating and entertaining nonetheless.

Created during the shoot of the movie, Mia and Roman runs 2 minutes, four seconds and provides a minor overview of the making of the film. It benefits from the large amount of footage from the set and from its then-contemporary interviews.

I especially like some shots of Polanski as he shows Farrow how she to play a scene. However, the show seems too glossy and superficial for the most part, so we don't learn a whole lot about how the film was made, though some interesting tidbits appear.

In any case, the show is actually rather entertaining due to the attitudes of the period. Maharishi-visiting Farrow seriously bought into the whole hippie culture.

Indeed, Farrow’s discussions of peace, love and joy seem inadvertently amusing. The program is nothing special, but it deserves a look.

In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, we also locate a 50th Anniversary “Redband” Trailer. The latter becomes the only extra here not found on the old DVD.

I prefer some later films in the same genre as Rosemary's Baby, but the film makes for a creepy and effective experience nonetheless. The movie lacks overt scares but works nicely on a psychological level and is likely to get under your skin. The Blu-ray gives us accurately reproduced picture and audio as well as a small roster of supplements. Though not necessary for those who already own the Criterion Blu-ray, this becomes a good option for those who don’t since the Criterion appears to be out of print and pricey.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of ROSEMARY'S BABY

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