DVD: Rosemary’s Baby

STUDIO: Criterion | DIRECTOR: Roman Polanski | CAST: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Patsy Kelly, Maurice Evans
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 10/30/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $39.95
BONUSES: new interviews, documentary on composer Krzysztof Komeda, radio interview with author Ira Levin
SPECS: R | 136 min. | Horror thriller | 1.85:1 widescreen | monaural

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

 

Roman Polanski’s (Carnage) 1968 Hollywood debut Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t require any further dissection from me as it’s generally considered to be one of Polanski’s finest achievements and a masterpiece of modern cinematic horror.

That said, I can enthusiastically recommend Criterion’s new edition of the film, the newly restored digital mastering of which serves William Fraker’s cinematography and Polanski’s compositions with dazzling results.

Rosemary's Baby movie scene

Mia Farrow fears for her future in Rosemary's Baby.

Among the bonuses are a feature-length documentary on composer Krzysztof Komeda, a jazz musician whose memorable score for the film alternates between dreamy, child-like tinkling and dark, city-tinged ominousness. There’s also a lively 1997 radio interview with Rosemary’s Baby novelist Ira Levin, wherein he concedes that his the realism of the book was enhanced by the fact that his wife was pregnant at the time he wrote it.

Finally, there’s an hour of new interviews with Polanski, producer Robert Evans and star Mia Farrow (The Last Unicorn). Though there really isn’t much new information revealed in the interviews, it’s still great to see three of the principal players on hand to talk about a work and a time that obviously meant a lot to them.

Here’re a handful of the interview’s quotes from the 79-year-old  Mr. P himself, who’s currently in pre-production on his next film, a historical biopic on the wrongfully imprisoned French Captain Alfred Dreyfus. It’s due in 2014.

On Rosemary’s story and screenplay: “When I first read the screenplay, it looked to be like a kitchen melodrama for television. But as I read, I got deeper and deeper into it and the suspense was such that I didn’t stop unitl like four in the morning.”

On working with female actors: “It’s easier, somehow, for a male director, I think, to work with a female actor, because they don’t resent being led. Like in a dance, traditionally, it’s a man who leads and not the other way around.”

Three thoughts on actor John Cassavetes: “John Cassavetes was not my best experience, I must say.”

“If an actor struggles, he becomes a pain in the ass. Cassavetes was a pain from time to time.”

“[Cassavetes] felt best in his sneakers. If you took off his sneakers, he had problems with his acting.”

A summation: “Rosemary’s Baby was one of the best moments of my personal and professional life.”

Bonus quote from actor Mia Farrow on her then-husband Frank Sinatra’s reaction to the script: “He snapped it closed and said, ‘I can’t see you in that part.’”

 

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.