Knife in the water

(Nóż w wodzie, 1962)
   The first feature-length film by Roman Polański, scripted by him, Jerzy Skolimowski, and Jakub Goldberg. The story of Knife in the Water, which is limited to three characters, concerns a well-to-do Warsaw sports journalist (Leon Niemczyk) and his younger wife (Jolanta Umecka) who invite a young hitchhiker (Zygmunt Malanowicz) for a yachting weekend. The bulk of the film's action is then confined to a small boat in the Mazurian Lakes, where a fierce rivalry develops between the worldly journalist and the insecure hitchhiker who challenges him. Often framed between the two men, the wife serves as their "prize" and is perfectly aware of her role in the conflict. The jazz score by Krzysztof Komeda, who also worked on Polański's earlier short films, and the photography of Jerzy Lipman help to create a vibrating, jazzy tempo and mood. Knife in the Water, one of the highlights of the Polish School, employs elements of the thriller genre, avoids political or social commitment, and defies the typical Communist expectations of a work of art. Its success abroad (including the first Polish nomination for the Academy Award in 1963) was treated with suspicion in Poland. The film offended political leaders and the film authorities because of its "cosmopolitan" and apolitical nature. Władysław Gomułka, the leader of the Communist Party (PZPR), officially condemned the film in August 1963.
   Historical Dictionary of Polish Cinema by Marek Haltof

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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