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Knife in the Water (1962)

Nóz w wodzie (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | 28 October 1963 (USA)
On their way to a sailing trip, an aging husband and wife invite along an emphatic young hitchhiker out of sheer patronization.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Storyline

Well off Andrzej and Krystyna's marriage is at a stage where familiarity breeds contempt, that contempt which is outwardly shown only behind closed doors and only when an incident of some sort sets off one or the other. While driving through the countryside on a Sunday on their way to the lake to embark on an overnight sailing excursion, they almost run over a young male hitchhiker. Despite the antagonism between Andrzej and the hitchhiker, Andrzej offers him a ride as far as the marina. By the time they reach the lake, their antagonism has dissipated enough that Andrzej asks if he would like to join them on their sailing trip. The hitchhiker accepts despite knowing nothing about sailing. As the sailing trip progresses, the antagonism between the two men begins to increase again, fueled on both sides as each strives to be the alpha male. Andrzej needs to show his superiority, while the hitchhiker needs to show that his young age and inexperience, not only with sailing but with life in... Written by Huggo

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Drama | Thriller

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

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28 October 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Knife in the Water  »

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first Polish film to be nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar. See more »

Goofs

When the young boy is trying to stabilize the Christine by hanging off its side, you can see the railing of the camera boat in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Andrzej: [sees the boy for the first time] Hitching at this hour.
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Connections

Featured in Red Knot (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the powerhouse debuts is a minimalist, existential suspense film
18 November 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Knife in the Water is the kind of film that works beautifully at making so much out of seemingly so little. A little tale of a couple who ask a hitch-hiker they pick up to come along with them for a sail on the lakes is all the story there is. But within that story are little bits that keep the story pumping, alive. There's also a style that lends itself to a kind of film-making that was just budding with the new-wave movements of the 60's.

Roman Polanski, who co-wrote and directed the film (as well giving an entire voice-over to the hitch-hiker), is careful in reeling in the emotions out of little dialog, and is also granted two tremendous assets aside from the actors: 1) Jerzy Lipman's crisp, free-flowing, and usually tight (to get the tenseness of the three characters) b/w photography draws one in by it's deep focus and sometimes documentary feel.

2) Krzysztof Komeda's jazz soundtrack. Polanski uses the riffs of the soft, easy-going side of the weekend-out; the up-beat pacing when a humorous situation occurs when the hitch-hiker loses control of the boat; the variations that sometimes occur with the simple shots of a boat sailing fast and slow across the water. Komeda's score for the film is among one of the better ones I've ever heard, in regards to it being a great work on it's own, and to corresponding to the film (he would later provide the memorable theme to Polanski's Rosemary's Baby).

The acting itself is interesting in what is not said between them, what has to be said by their expressions. The fact that the three have distinct personalities adds to the tenseness- it would've been more conventional if the hitch-hiker (Zygmunt Malanowicz) wanted to come on and stay, but Andzrej (Leon Miemczyk) is the more insistent one. Krystyna (Jolanta Umecka), meanwhile, never says more than the other two, but is perhaps smarter as well. One thing that definitely shows the film breaking away from the attitudes of the 50's in the emphasis on the sexual tension, and the actors convey that very well when called upon - adding to this, Umecka is a total, natural knock-out, if not entirely in performance (though the quiet, inward quality is when she's at her best).

Simply, Knife in the Water is an observant, amusing, eye-widening experience, and it ranks as one of the premiere debuts of cinema. A+


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