Knife in the Water (1962)

Knife in the Water (1962) movie poster

director Roman Polanski
viewed: 05/03/2016

“Knife…in the waterrrr…” (hum to the tune of Deep Purple)

Roman Polanski’s first feature film and only technically “Polish” feature film is 1960’s European avant-garde first class and also a sign of the angst, tension, and turmoil that would mark his best films of his burgeoning career.

Three people on a little boat on a large, calm lake, as if no other people exist anywhere else in the world, save the radio, and nobody can just get along. Andrzej (Leon Niemczyk) and Krystyna (Jolanta Umecka) are cruising an isolated country road when they pick up a somewhat dodgy young hitchhiker (Zygmunt Malanowicz) and decide to take him along for their day-long boat excursion. But Andrzej can’t help but intimidate the young man and the young man is full of an unsettled energy, either a battle for the charms of Krystyna, or perhaps something more unstated between the two men.

It’s a study in simplicity and concision in many ways. Shot in black-and-white, it’s an unnerving sample of the dark worlds Polanski would later uncover again and again as he took the world stage as director (and before he became pariah in the US).

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