Knife in the Water
A film by Roman Polanski
10th November; 5.45pm
Perks Mini Theater
Roman Polanski's sensational 1962 debut is an example of how a superlative director makes a film from the simplest materials. If movies were music, Roman Polanski’s electrifying Knife in the Water would have to be classed as some kind of trio – intense, 94-minute combat between three human instruments.
The premise is famously simple: a married, bourgeois Polish couple called Andrzej (Leon Niemczyk) and Krystyna (Jolanta Umecka) pick up a 19 -year-old hitchhiker (Zygmunt Malanowicz), and invite him on board their yach, mainly so that Andrzej can try and prove himself the alpha.
almost all of its force – and it’s without doubt one of the most forceful feature debuts ever made – derives from truly magnificent black-and-white composition, credit for which must go to Polanski, his cinematographer Jerzy Lipman, and the camera operators too.
You could hardly find a better teaching aid for the maximising of tension, suggestion and meaning through camera placement. It’s an exercise, and one you’d have to give top marks, in finding ways to place all three characters in the frame, or sometimes two, or occasionally just the one, to make every phase in their devious power struggle visually eloquent and compelling.
There’s hardly a shot that isn’t laced with purpose. Roman Polanski’s first feature is a brilliant psychological thriller that many critics still consider among his greatest work. The story is simple, yet the implications of its characters’ emotions and actions are profound.
Roman Raymond Polanski (born August 18, 1933) is an award-winning film director, writer, actor and producer. After beginning his career in Poland, Polanski became a celebrated arthouse filmmaker, and Hollywood director of such films as Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974). Polanski is considered one of the world’s great film directors.
1939, Poland was invaded and occupied by Germany and the Soviet Union, in accordance with the Nazi-Soviet Pact. The Polański family was a target of Nazi persecution and forced into the Kraków Ghetto, along with thousands of other Polish Jews. Roman Polański's mother was subsequently gassed in the Auschwitz concentration camp. His father barely survived the Austrian concentration camp Mauthausen-Gusen. Polański himself escaped the Kraków Ghetto.
He was educated at the Polish film school in Łódź, Poland, from which he graduated in 1959. Polański speaks six languages: Native Polish language, Russian, English, French, Spanish, and Italian.
He is also known for his tumultuous personal life. He lived in German-occupied Poland during WWII and in 1969, his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson Family. In 1977 he was involved in an American sex scandal, he fled to France where he has lived a rather reclusive life with his wife the gifted and skilled actress Emmanuelle Seigner and their two children.
He has continued to direct films from Europe, including Frantic (1988), Death and the Maiden (1994), The Ninth Gate, the Academy Award-winning and Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or-winning The Pianist (2002), and Oliver Twist (2005).Polanski is admired by many other filmmakers all over the world for his genius as a director.