Roman Polanski, Knife in the Water (still), 1962; image: courtesy Janus Films


Knife in the Water

Part of Modern Cinema: Criterion Collection and Apichatpong Weerasethakul

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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. When a young hitchhiker joins a couple on a weekend yacht trip, psychological warfare breaks out as the two men compete for the woman’s attention. A storm forces the small crew below deck, and tension builds to a violent climax. With stinging dialogue and a mercilessly probing camera, Polanski creates a disturbing study of fear, humiliation, sexuality, and aggression. This remarkable directorial debut won Polanski worldwide acclaim, a place on the cover of Time, and his first Oscar nomination.

“Already a master at using confined spaces to reveal psychological states, Polanski spins the tale of three people holed up in a small boat into an absurdist black comedy-drama of sexual jealousy and the generation gap. Taut, tense, half tongue-in-cheek, half powerfully sinister, it is debatable whether Polanski has ever made a better film.” —Empire magazine, “The 100 Best Films of World Cinema”

Film Details

Country: Poland
Language: Polish
Year: 1962
Running time: 94 min
Director: Roman Polanski
Producer: Stanislaw Zylewicz
Writers: Jerzy Skolimowski, Jakub Goldberg, Roman Polanski
Cinematographer: Jerzy Lipman
Editor: Halina Prugar-Ketling
Music: Krzysztof T. Komeda
With: Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka, Zygmunt Malanowicz
Print Source: Janus Films

Films and schedules may be subject to change.

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