Rosemary’s Baby appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 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, so the image 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. 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.
I also felt pleased with the 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 44-year-old mono mix.
How did the Blu-ray compare to original DVD from 2000? Audio was a little clearer, though there wasn’t a lot that could be done to improve the decades-old source material. On the other hand, the visuals seemed substantially improved. The Blu-ray was cleaner, more vivid and better defined. Without question, the Blu-ray seemed much more satisfying.
Both the DVD and the Blu-ray come with different extras. We open with Remembering Rosemary’s Baby, a new documentary that runs 46 minutes, 54 seconds and features comments from former Paramount Head of Production Robert Evans, actor Mia Farrow and director Roman Polanski. We learn about the project’s origins and development, how Polanski came onto the project, the source novel and its adaptation, casting and performances, sets and locations, production/costume design and cinematography, the film’s release and legacy.
In theory, it’s disappointing that we only hear from three of the film’s creators. However, “Remembering” does give us three of the most important participants, and since so many of the others involved are now dead, I can’t complain too much about the limited roster.
I find it even more difficult to gripe given the high quality of “Remembering”. It packs a lot of meat into its almost 47 minutes and comes with virtually no fluff. We find a deep, frank take on the production here.
From a 1997 radio show, we find an Interview with Author Ira Levin. Conducted by Leonard Lopate, this piece goes for 19 minutes, 21 seconds and covers aspects of the original novel and its late 1990s sequel. Though the piece exists to promote Son of Rosemary, it provides a pretty rich exploration of the subjects and proves to be worthwhile.
The disc finishes with Komeda, Komeda, a 2012 documentary that focuses on composer Kryzsztof Komeda. It fills one hour, 10 minutes, and 43 seconds and features info from Polanski, Komeda’s sister Irena Orlowska, jazz musicians Jerzy Milian, Jan Byrczek, Michal Urbaniak, Leszek Mozdzer, Wojciech Karolak, Dave Burman, Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski and Andrezej Idon Wojcieochowski, film historian/author Professor Marek Hendrykowski, classmates Bogdan Nowinka, Jerzy Bargiel, Dr. Zbiniew Cymerys, Professor Antoni Pruszewicz, Kazimierz Radowicz, Henryk Przyborowska, Maria Laskarzewska-Przyborowska, Wojciech Suszycki and Florian Tomaszewski, registrar Elzbieta Marciniak, Jazz Forum editor in chief Pawel Brodowski, film director Edward Etler, album cover designer Roslaw Szaybo, composer Adam Slawinski, and Zofia Komeda’s son Tomasz Lach.
As expected, the program gives us a biography of Komeda, as it covers the late composer’s life and career. (He died the year after the release of Baby.) Though it gets a little too artsy at times – with animation and other gimmicks – the documentary nonetheless offers a strong examination of its subject and merits a look.
Finally, we get a 28-page booklet. It includes an essay from film writer Ed Park, “Ira Levin on the Origins of Rosemary’s Baby”, and some excerpts from Levin’s notebooks. This becomes yet another fine Criterion booklet.
Rosemary's Baby makes for a creepy and effective experience. 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 but high-quality roster of supplements. Fans will be very happy with this strong release of a classic film.