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Knife in the Water (The Criterion Collection)

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka, Michal Zolnierkiewicz, Voytek Frykowski, Zygmunt Malanowicz
  • Directors: Roman Polanski
  • Producers: Jean-Pierre Rousseau
  • Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Polish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Sept. 30 2003
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0000AINJ8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,810 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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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

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Here are some observations I would like to make about this earliest of Polanski works:
(1) I finally got to see the film that lost out to Fellini's 8 1/2 as best foreign film. Undoubtedly, if I had been on the Academy's select panel of judges that year, I, too, would have been torn between these two great productions. Obviously, Fellini won it because Polanski was a relatively unknown director from Poland;
(2) The plot is disarmingly simple to follow which suggests that good films don't need a complex script to capture an audience, but that is where things start to get interesting;
(3) Polanski takes his simple plot and builds into it a number of powerful dynamics that exploit the conventional relationship of man and woman. What starts off as a seemingly ordinary happy tandem gradually turns into a very unstable triangle fraught with all kinds of sinister possibilities;
(4) This filmmaker does a marvellous job of controlling the tempo of this film: the sudden changes in the weather; the movement of the yacht's rigging; the many changes of body language; and the use of foreshadowing and suspense, all used to manipulate the emotions of his audience to the nth degree;
(5) One gets a little glimpse of Polish culture in the middle of the Cold War: ugly cars, unhappy youth, state radio, political privilege, moral values;
(6) The personal conflict in the story is resolved along the way instead of a typical Hollywood showdown at the end.
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Format: DVD
Knife in the Water (Noz w Wode) is Roman Polanski's first feature film. It stands out compared to other Polish films of the time because it has a contemporary story. Other directors, such as Andrzej Wajda, did make films with contemporary stories but the majority of the Polish movies in the early 1960s were about the war.

One remarkable aspect about this movie is there are only three actors. There is a middle-age man named Andrzej, his young wife Krystyna and a young man. The sparks that result from the trio are enough to totally keep the story interesting and suspenseful.

On the way to the lake, the couple picks up a young man hitchhiking. The young man is a wise guy and a risk taker. They take him along with them to their boat and go sailing. Andrzej sees the young man's character and wants to teach him a lesson. Both of the men are very alike and get a kick out of the game of cat and mouse they play. The men use shows of bravado and laughter as weapons, no doubt trying to not only outdo the other but also impress Krystyna. Krystyna tries to keep the situation as calm as possible as both try to outwit each other.

The tension builds and builds the longer they are together. One can't help but think that the film is titled Knife in the Water. How and when the knife will play a role is always on the back of one's mind. Considering the great tension between the men, it just seems like a matter of time before the knife settles their dispute.

Keeping in mind the story is relatively simple, just three people going on a boat together, Polanski has to be given a lot of credit that he made the film so intense.
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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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