Criterion Corner: Rosemary’s Baby. 1968

The Criterion Collection for years have been releasing the best versions of movies on DVD and Blue Ray. They are hands down the ultimate praise a film can receive,and while many claim the Oscar to be the ultimate recognition. Having the work and praise that goes into a Criterion edition. Shows that it was put together by film lovers for film lovers. This section is going to be dedicated to some of the great movies in this growing collection.

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Rosemary’s Baby. 1968

Cast: Mia Farrow, John Cassavettes, Ruth Godon

Writers: Ira Levin(Novel) Roman Polanski(Screenplay)

Director: Roman Polanski.

***SPOILERS*****.

The Following review may contain spoilers.

Since Mother’s day is behind us.  I thought it would be somewhat nice to look in on a woman who is about to become a mom herself.  Rosemary Woodhouse(Mia Farrow) is expected to give birth and while this would make most other expected mothers quite happy. Rosemary is beginning to have doubts and starts believing that her neighbors, friends, and even her husband are conspiring to harm her unborn child.  What she doesn’t  know (but will soon find out )is that she was being used by Satan to give birth to the antichrist aka TMZ

Rosemary’s Baby” was the American debut of director Roman Polanski and was in a way the birth of demon possession in modern movies. At least the ones that involve the young. Ie “The Exorcist“, “The Omen” and every network show on The Disney Channel.  What makes this movie still enjoyable after all these years is the dream like suspense it still holds.  As the viewer watching this, you are never 100 percent sure of what she is going through is true or just part of  a hallucination. Polanski wisely removes any of the obvious visuals that are usually associated with dreams, with the only moment that feels like the dream is when Rosemary is being raped by the devil.  The rest of the move has a dream like look to  it, but like the main character. You are not 100 percent certain what is real and what isn’t.  Cinematographer William A Fraker gives this movie a soft dream like  hue to the look that only adds to the confusion.  This is more of a supernatural mystery instead of a psychological horror movie although the argument could be made for the other side too.  After all, Rosemary is the man protagonist and we are experiencing the same things that she is.  I just got more wrapped up in the mystery of finding out if anything really did happen to her or not.

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The supporting cast in this is really good.  John Cassavettes is great as  Guy(Rosemary’s Husband) because even though he feels conflicted for what he is doing to his wife.  He is still motivated by greed more than anything else.  Ruth Gordon steals the show and rightfully won an Oscar for her role as Minnie.  The nosey neighbor who may be a bit too sweet for her own good,     Ralph Bellamy and  Sidney Blackmer are also equally effective in their roles too but Mia Farrow is downright amazing in the lead role.  Since most of the movie is done through her perspective.  Miss Farrow has the difficult task of making the audience believe what the sees and yet at the same time questioning it too. Well at least until the very end.   Before this I have only seen her in Woody Allen movies and had no idea she appeared in other movies.  Also, I never knew how attractive she once was and that she once married Frank Sinatra (they filed for divorce during the making of this movie)

Do not go into this move expecting to be scared because that is not its  intention.  It’s a creepy gothic mystery that I found it to be very disturbing in certain parts.  Even the opening credits with that score from Krzysztof Komeda made me feel a bit unease.  Even if you don’t believe in the Devil, the whole idea of having people you know betray and use your body like that  is very disturbing  in and of itself.   I can understand why many people consider this to be a horror classic because  gets it’s scares from building suspense with the atmosphere, tone, and believable characters

Special Features

  • New, restored digital transfer, approved by director Roman Polanski, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • New documentary featuring interviews with Polanski, actress Mia Farrow, and producer Robert Evans
  • Interview with author Ira Levin from a 1997 broadcast of Leonard Lopate’s public radio program New York and Company, about his 1967 novel, its sequel, and the film
  • Komeda, Komeda, a feature- length documentary on the life and work of jazz musician and composer Krzysztof Komeda, who wrote the score for Rosemary’s Baby
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Ed Park; Levin’s afterword to the 2003 New American Library edition of his novel; and Levin’s rare, unpublished character sketches of the Woodhouses and floor plan of their apartment, created in preparation for the novel

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About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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11 Responses to Criterion Corner: Rosemary’s Baby. 1968

  1. mistylayne says:

    Good review! I watched this when I was about 19 and expected it to be frightening and was highly disappointed – I should definitely take another look.

  2. The Vern says:

    It’s a modern classic gothic story. I think a good double feature would be this and Suspiria. I agree about it not being scary but I did find the story fascinating. Thanks for the comment

  3. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Vern. The build-up is insane as you never have a single clue as to what the hell is going on, what’s real, and what isn’t.

    • The Vern says:

      Thanks Dan. I really enjoyed the build up with this story too. It’s slow pace would never sit well with audiences today. It’s one horror movie I hope never gets remade

  4. ninvoid99 says:

    This is definitely one of my favorite films by Polanski as I finally watched it last year. I heard “The Tenant” is the next Polanski film coming to the Criterion Collection. I really hope his entire body of work gets released by Criterion. After all, he’s been on a roll as of late since “Ghost Writer”.

  5. The Vern says:

    I heard this was part of a trilogy of movies set inside an Apartment including “Repulsion”, “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Tenant”. Don’t know what order they go in. Do you. Thanks for commenting

    • ninvoid99 says:

      First, it’s “Repulsion” from 1965, “Rosemary’s Baby” from 1968, and then “The Tenant” from 1976.

  6. monstergirl says:

    Vern, this is my all time favorite film. It transcends the horror genre and embraces so many themes, alienation- paranoia, motherhood etc. Great to see you showing it some love. Listen, I am planning on doing a William Castle Blogathon for July 29- Aug 2 in honor of the 45th anniversary of The Tingler. Would you be interested in chiming in with a review of one of the great schlockmeister’s films? I’d love to have you on board… Cheers Joey from The Last Drive In

    • The Vern says:

      That you very much for commenting on my review. I 100% agree with you about how it trancends the horror genre. As for you William Castle Blogathon idea. I have not seen much of his work but would love to watch more. I will let you know soon if I can participate. Thanks for thinking of me.

  7. The Movie Man says:

    Great review on a masterpiece. I loved Rosemary’s Baby. Farrow was sensational, but it was Ruth Gordon that stole the show for me. I love the way she’d say, “Whattaya say?” You’re right, it isn’t intended to scare people, but I do think it wants to horrify them in a way. The devil-rape scene stands out in my mind as pure horror (not scary, but horrifying).

    • The Vern says:

      Thanks for the comment Ben. Can’t deny that Ruth Gordon was good in that role. It’s kind of hard for me to watch Harold and Maude because she was so good in this. Are you going to watch the new series that is coming to TV

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