Knife in the Water Movie Review

Before he got all famous with movies like Rosemary's Baby and The Pianist, Roman Polanski created Knife in the Water, his first feature film.

Water is a small but incredibly engaging movie, taking place during a day trip on a Polish lake. In the film, upscale couple Andrzej and Krystyna (Leon Niemczyk and Jolanta Umecka) drive out to the marina to take a little ride on the water, picking up a tenacious, beefcake hitchhiker (Zygmunt Malanowicz, whose character is unnamed in the film) and letting him go along on the trip. Andrzej goes to outrageous lengths to belittle his passenger, as the two men obliquely battle for the attention of Krystyna. It all comes to a head with Andrzej pushing the non-swimming blonde kid into the water, right after tossing his beloved knife into the drink. And there's more to come after that.

Knife in the Water is exceptionally well made for a first movie, maybe the best "first" following only Citizen Kane. Polanski and his cinematographer Jerzy Litman prove themselves masters at pulling off a very difficult shoot that takes place almost entirely at sea and in a variety of weather circumstances. The script, while it's never directly on point, is always engaging and never becomes boring, even though the trio talk endlessly about the most banal subjects. It's all subtext for Polanski's story about jealousy and betrayal -- and on a broader scale, class warfare. Krystyna is the central figure in the film, though she probably gets the least amount of screen time. Would she really be interested in a nameless drifter, buff though he may be? Then again, why would a sophisticate be married to a cad like Andrzej? Water challenges the brain with a simple puzzle and a short running time, and in the end it offers no answer, remaining freely open for interpretation.

The new Criterion DVD set offers a restored black & white picture and new subtitles rewritten by Polanski himself (though they are unfortunately barely readable as they are in tiny white text on an often white background), plus a second disc with eight of Polanski's short films. It's an incredible addition to Polanski's legacy (though it's a nuisance that you can't rewind or fast-forward during the shorts).

Aka Nóz w wodzie .


Comments

Knife in the Water Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: NR, 1962

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