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Knife in the Water (1962)

Nóz w wodzie (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | 28 October 1963 (USA)
On their way to a sailing trip, an aging husband and wife invite along an emphatic young hitchhiker out of sheer patronization.

Director:

Roman Polanski

Writers:

Jakub Goldberg (scenario), Roman Polanski (scenario) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Leon Niemczyk ... Andrzej
Jolanta Umecka ... Krystyna
Zygmunt Malanowicz ... Young Man
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Storyline

Well off Andrzej and Krystyna's marriage is at a stage where familiarity breeds contempt, that contempt which is outwardly shown only behind closed doors and only when an incident of some sort sets off one or the other. While driving through the countryside on a Sunday on their way to the lake to embark on an overnight sailing excursion, they almost run over a young male hitchhiker. Despite the antagonism between Andrzej and the hitchhiker, Andrzej offers him a ride as far as the marina. By the time they reach the lake, their antagonism has dissipated enough that Andrzej asks if he would like to join them on their sailing trip. The hitchhiker accepts despite knowing nothing about sailing. As the sailing trip progresses, the antagonism between the two men begins to increase again, fueled on both sides as each strives to be the alpha male. Andrzej needs to show his superiority, while the hitchhiker needs to show that his young age and inexperience, not only with sailing but with life in... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Acclaimed by All See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Poland

Language:

Polish

Release Date:

28 October 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Knife in the Water See more »

Filming Locations:

Poland See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The boat used in the movie is rumored to be a former property of Hermann Goering, the Nazi party member and a friend of Adolf Hitler, who used to spend summer holidays in the palace in Sztynort neighboring the filming locations. Sunk during World War II in the Mazurian Lakes, it was restored and is - up to present date - owned by Almatur Travel Agency located in Gizycko, Poland, very popular in Polish showbiz-related circles. The real name of the boat is "Rekin" ("The Shark"). See more »

Goofs

Although the Peugeot 403 is seen in the first scenes and the last distant shot at the end, the car the couple get in to and drive away from the pier on their return from the trip is the elusive Mercedes 190 talked about as replaced in the trivia. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Andrzej: [sees the boy for the first time] Hitching at this hour.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"If two men are onboard, one's the skipper"
5 October 2007 | by Steffi_PSee all my reviews

Roman Polanski's first full length feature is a simple, minimalist piece filled with male posturing, dead end situations, claustrophobic environments and eerie calm. This is part of Polanski's art house beginnings, but many of its themes and much of its style would be carried through to his later, more accessible work.

Like many a Polanski picture, Knife in the Water shows us men competing over a woman. Typically however this is to the end of making the men look ridiculous rather than objectifying the woman. Here the competition is the central theme, and the bulk of the film is basically a series of set pieces in which the middle-aged husband and the young hitchhiker attempt to outdo each other or show the other up. This drama is concentrated and focused by having only the three characters, and confining the action almost entirely to one location. This kind of minimalism is a safe, simple way to make a straightforward, uncluttered story – a good strategy for an up and coming director – but it's a lot harder to make a really great picture out of such simple elements, and the young Polanski does fall somewhat short here.

What Polanski does have is his natural talent and feel for cinematic form. His sense of rhythm was evident from his earliest shorts, and by this point he had clearly settled upon a style of slow, even paces, letting scenes take as much time as they needed and never being afraid to hold a shot into so-called "dead time" if he felt it was necessary. Often, the stillness of Polanski's pictures could build up a greater feeling of dread or tension than speed and shocks. Here, the pace is leisurely, in tune with Komeda's breezy jazz score, a sound synonymous with early Polanski. It may be slow but Knife in the Water has great atmosphere.

Another of Polanski's strengths was in his feel for space, particularly confined space. In Knife in the Water we have a kind of contradiction on this level, because a small boat in the middle of a lake is both a very wide open space and a small confined one. You kind of get half the effect of a later Polanski picture such as The Tenant – you do get the sense that the characters and the camera itself are incredibly restricted in their environment, but of course you don't get that feeling of all the walls pressing in on you. Nevertheless, Polanski was a master at creating this sense, and he does tend to surround the camera with bits of boat or actor. There are numerous close-ups – typical of the early Polanski although it's something he would drop later in his career – which give a slightly surreal look to some of the shots. A particularly effective moment is the first shot of the boat drifting out across the lake with trees dotted in the background, which then cuts to a close-up of Krystyna, the wife, lying on her back filling the lower half of the frame, with the exact same background as the previous shot.

Knife in the Water is a fairly good film with some good ideas. It suffers a bit from style over substance but is well acted and well directed and is not long enough to get overly tedious. Better things were to come from Polanski once he moved out of Poland and began his English-language film career.


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