Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: The Criterion edition of Rosemary’s Baby

Along with Psycho and Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary’s Baby was one of the crucial American horror films of the 1960s. A deeply unsettling and incredibly entertaining film, Roman Polanski’s parental horror is also significant for its attitude about supernatural fear films. It envelops the viewer in sincere terror only to pull back at the last minute to chuckle at all this demonic nonsense from the corner of its fanged maw. Living Dead would become the midnight movie phenomenon in the seventies, but Rosemary’s Baby better established the ironic tone of cult films.

Widely regarded as one of the very best of its genre, Rosemary’s Baby has simply been dying for proper treatment on DVD. Having already produced luxurious discs of Polanski’s Knife in the Water, Repulsion, and Cul-de-sac, Criterion was the natural choice to give Rosemary’s Baby a rebirth. When the company asked Facebook users for suggestions for future releases last year, I voted for Rosemary’s Baby. So naturally, I’m thrilled by Criterion’s new reissue of the film.

Criterion consistently delivers the finest remastering and packaging a film could receive, and Rosemary’s Baby is no different. It sounds and looks pristine while still retaining the earth-toned haze that makes it the perfect late-sixties time capsule. A bonus disc offers a 1997 radio interview with Rosemary’s Baby novelist Ira Levin, a feature-length documentary about jazz artist and soundtrack composer Krzysztof Komeda (featuring Polanski), and most appealing to fans, a 47-minute documentary on the making of the film. New interviews with Polanski, Mia Farrow, and producer Robert Evans carry the doc, which is also interspersed with enticing behind-the-scenes footage of Mia Farrow doing some hippie-ish clowning on set and producer (and thwarted director) William Castle’s cameo. According to Polanski, the original cut of the film was four hours, so it’s too bad deleted scenes weren’t available for this release. But my only real gripe is that the discs do not come out of the case easily. Every time I pulled one out, I was shocked I didn’t snap it in half! That would have been a terrible shame considering how fine these disc are.

Get the Criterion edition of Rosemary’s Baby at Amazon. Com here: 

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