“Rosemary’s Baby” remains one of the most unique horror flicks. It’s particularly haunting in its focus on innocent young housewife Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and her pregnancy with what she discovers is the offspring of Satan. The 1968 Roman Polanski classic masterfully executes its unsettling plot without much gore. Instead, it’s simply a well-acted, colorful film. Equally as novel is the soundtrack composed by Krzysztof Komeda.
The original 1968 “Rosemary’s Baby” soundtrack features a delightful mix of musical genres. While many tracks differ, it nevertheless forms a cohesive whole. Its memorable intro track “Lullaby,” features Mia Farrow singing a simultaneously pleasant and frightening “La la la la la la la la la la la la/La la la, la la la la la la la la la la.”
Later, album entries such as “Chanting” feature the vocals of the coven, well, chanting. Other songs including “Holiday Music” assume an avant-garde jazzy quality. Similarly, “Book About Witchcraft” features toe-tappingly jazzy melodies which are mildly off-kilter. This lends a sense that something’s amiss; those creepy old people next door aren’t the innocent senior citizens they masquerade to be. Just like the film for which it was composed, the original Rosemary’s Baby soundtrack eschews a straight up horror vibe.
“To my surprise and delight she [Mia Farrow] proved able to hum quite well, and there’s no mistaking the owner of the voice that accompanies the opening credits. Not for the first time, a film of mine had derived an added dimension from Komeda’s wonderfully imaginative music.” — Roman Polansky
“Scrabble” arrives as a highlight track. It even sounds as though pieces of the board game are falling into place. Director Roman Polanski, as a student filmmaker, was a massive fan of Komeda. Upon seeing a rough cut of Polanski’s “Two Men and a Wardrobe,” the composer was ecstatic. So much so that he wrote an accompanying melody. Polanski and Komeda collaborated on Polanski’s theatrical debut “Knife in the Water,” with Komeda scoring the entire film. In the anthology film “Beautiful Swindlers,” Komeda composed the score to Polanski’s segment “River of Diamonds.”
In December 1967, Polansky called Komeda and asked him to compose the soundtrack for his first American picture, “Rosemary’s Baby.” It was, in fact, Polanski who proposed the notion for Mia Farrow to hum the wordless melody on top of the intro and closing titles. “To my surprise and delight she [Mia Farrow] proved able to hum quite well, and there’s no mistaking the owner of the voice that accompanies the opening credits. Not for the first time, a film of mine had derived an added dimension from Komeda’s wonderfully imaginative music.”
While the lasting horror thriller “Rosemary’s Baby” oozes plenty of Polanski’s directorial touch, and Farrow’s taut, inspired performance, the soundtrack plays an integral role in the overall experience. On screen, everyday actions such as cooking or cleaning elicit pure terror. Even on the toned down tracks which gush with jazz undertones, there’s something unsettling in the familiar. It’s the varied nature of the Rosemary’s Baby original 1968 soundtrack, with its Satanic chants, avant-garde numbers, and eerie lullabies, which sets a haunting yet gorgeous soundscape for the visuals.