Wednesday, 2 March 2016

I've Just Seen: Knife in the Water (Nóż w wodzie) (1962)

Knife in the Water (Nóż w wodzie) (1962)

Director: Roman Polanski

I look forward to seeing Polanski films. Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby are favourites of mine, and Macbeth and Venus in Fur were very good adaptations of plays. He gets great performances out of his actors, a skill that is evident in this, his first feature film. Knife in the Water thrusts us into a triangular scenario, as a couple invite a young hitchhiker to join them for a day trip on their boat.

I was most reminded of Rene Clement's Purple Noon: the isolated setting of the boat, the tension that lies under every scene: whether it is murderous or sexual remaining uncertain. We don't know why Andrzej invites the young man onto the boat, or why the young man says yes. Triangles crop up in a lot of the shot compositions: a character framed through the bent arm of another, the three of them placed at different distances from the camera, and the shape of the sail boat itself.

For the first half of the film one corner of the shape is a mystery: Krystyna. She is largely silent for much of the piece, and appears to be throughly uninterested in the conversations of her husband and the young man. However, she is not nearly so absent as we believe.

While not as brilliant as many of his other films, this is a very impressive first feature, and points to many ideas and themes Polanski would return to over the years.

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