by guest writer
Knife in the Water marked Roman Polanski’s debut as a director. In his own appreciation, having to deal with wind, water and other natural forces was going to be a tremendous test for his directorial abilities. Even the score, jazz music, was considered by the Polish officials of a decadent nature. In other words, this movie was going to doom Polanski’s career in Poland because of the rash conditions of the time.
The director chose the Mazury Lakes in the northern part of the country as the natural decor, being in love with their landscape. From the very beginning of the film, when the hitchhiker throws himself in front of a car, you have the feeling of a game being set up. The intensity of the film accelerates to a peak psychological thriller where the characters start to disintegrate into peaces. Building suspense with limited resources is one of the film’s strengths, together with a spell bounding black and white cinematography that seems to bear the influence of Ingmar Bergman’s movies. There is a rebellion voice in the young character, played by method actor Zygmunt Malanowicz, who resents everything about a wealthier man, and the knife chosen as part of the title was used especially for its symbolic meaning of power struggle. A one of its kind products of the classic Polish cinema!
photo: still from the film | credit: Zespol Filmowy “Kamera”