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Knife in the Water (The Criterion Collection)

Leon Niemczyk , Jolanta Umecka , Roman Polanski    Unrated   DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Product Description


This simple but taut psychological thriller was the first full-length film from the great director Roman Polanski. A bickering couple pick up a hitchhiker, a good-looking young man whom they invite to go for a sail. But on the water the two men, separated by age, class, and experience, subtly and not-so-subtly jockey for status and fight for the attentions of the woman--a struggle that threatens to turn fatal. In Polanski's hands, this lean, spare movie, without any special effects or spectacular scenery, manages to lay bare the driving forces of machismo, envy, and marital spite. It's the beginning of a truly remarkable career that's ranged from the heights of Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown to the more dubious realms of Bitter Moon and The Ninth Gate. Knife in the Water is particularly significant to Polanski fans, but also a striking movie in its own right. --Bret Fetzer

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By bdlion
A fascinating, suspensful film debut for Roman Polanski, who already shows great promise with his amazingly original camera angles and creative shots. However, Criterion allowed Polanski to dictate the terms of the disc in which the step back/forward function is disabled. This is maddening, especially if one misses a subtitle or two when pondering some of his amazing shots.
Another complaint I have is about the subtitles. I don't speak Polish, but it seems to me there is a lot of spoken dialogue that is not translated into English. I can recall several instances when the characters speak, but no subtitles appear. A harmless error, or a glaring mistake? I don't have an answer.
This doesn't detract from the movie itself, which is excellent. Five stars would have been given if not for these flaws. However, I do hope Criterion does not repeat the very rude mistake of disabling disc functions in any other future editions of their releases. Another reviewer got it right: "Polanski controls his set, not my DVD player."
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2.0 out of 5 stars The DVD will taint your appreciation of the movie. March 14 2004
I have to say that the pretentious move of the Director to disable DVD navigation is so irritating that it distracts from the movie, and may create in you a desire to fire the disc against the wall.
What do DVD controls have to do with the movie anyway? Is it supposed to make us feel like we're at the theatre? Well, we're not. And unless Roman Polanski is willing to buy me a 52 inch TV set to go along with the experience, I wish he'd keep his hands off.
Further, I don't see it mentioned anywhere that in addition to disabling the scan features, the resume function is also gone. So, let's say, you have to go to the bathroom; answer the phone; exit the building due to a fire alarm; whatever. Well, make sure you use Pause, and leave it that way, or else the disc will start over. If you accidentally push Stop, which is what I do, the disc will start from the beginning and you'll lose your place. And you can't scan to find it. So, I guess you're supposed to watch the movie all over again.
This is punishment for being a Modern Viewing Audience, plain and simple. Stupid!!
As for the film, it was okay. It would've been more enjoyable if I could watch it the way I like. Might've even watched it again.
Frankly, I thought the Shorts stunk. A great addition for hardcore fans but, to me, most of them were just obnoxious.
One tip for you if you do get the DVD: some Sony DVD players have an "instant replay" feature, and this actually *does* work, I figured out after the fact. So if you need to back up, everytime you push this button the movie will jump back 10 seconds. Don't tell this to Roman Polanski, though. ;O)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable yet with a technical complaint! Feb. 7 2004
The forward/backward function doesn't work on this edition. You can only jump through the chapters in the "Knife" while on the otherwise brilliantly important Disc 2, with eight early Polanski student and short films, you can't move at all. It's not that these films are ever boring or that you can't watch them repeatedly. But sometimes you just want to skip back or forth to catch up a detail---
Otherwise, add a 28-minute live interview with Jerzy Skolimowski (coscripted + dialogue) and Polanski, this of course should be a definitive edition.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Looking Transfer to DVD Jan. 26 2004
A remarkably satisfying disc that gives viewers a crisp, virtually flawless transfer as well as lots of extras. Criterion should not, however, have agreed to Polanski's request disabling the search/forward and reverse functions. A truly dumb move that Criterion had best not repeat in future. Polanski gets to control his set, not my remote.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Polanski's Razor-Sharp Debut Nov. 23 2003
Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water is a masterful piece of filmmaking, and surprisingly the director's first full-length feature. To the uninitiated, Polanski is the man who's vision gave a signature edge to films such as Chinatown, The Pianist, and the film adaptation of Rosemary's Baby.
A graduate of the state-run (and communist backed) Polish Film School, Polanski made the controversial effort with his first film to not only avoid any state propoganda, but to actually call into question the very topics that nearly every Polish film to date had been required to avoid; namely the interaction between the upper and lower class, or more accurately the "haves" versus the "have nots."
The film revolves around a wealthy man, Andrzej, his attractive wife Krystyna, and a young, unnamed hitchiker that Andrzej decides to bring along on the couple's evening out on a boat, more to toy with him than anything else.
The first thing that will probably strike most people about the film is the absolute harmony within each frame, especially once the trio pushes out on the lake. Polanski favors very long, complicated still shots in which the characters may move in and out of frame several times, but the angles are always in such a place as to accent, and occasionally even generate, the tension that permeates the entire movie. In addition, the weather in the film is nearly a character in and of itself, and overall the feeling of being on a boat and out in the elements is portrayed so incredibly that you're practically feeling the water splashing on your face. Quite remarkable for a mono, black and white movie shot in the early 60's on a handheld.
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