Kinfe In The Water

Kinfe In The Water (1962)
Criterion Collection
Cast: Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka, Zygmunt Malanowicz
Extras: Video Interview, Photo Gallery, Short Films

With ’Knife In The Water’ Criterion Collection has picked Roman Polanski’s directorial feature-film debut movie and one of his best films to bring to DVD in a 2-disc Special Edition. Shot in black and white, this film reflects Polanski’s poetic style more than any other. The hauntingly melancholic atmosphere of the film is so highly reminiscent of the somewhat muted atmosphere in his home country Poland where the film was shot, that it is easy to see where the director drew much of his inspiration from for his later films.

’Knife in the Water’ is a powerful psychological thriller revolving entirely around three people only. The tension, the drama and the psychological warfare we witness during a weekend sailing trip is creating one of the most gripping cinema experiences of the time. Hardly surprising Polanski immediately received an Oscar nomination for this remarkable film.

Criterion has prepared a wonderful transfer for the movie. Presented in its original fullframe aspect ratio, the transfer is virtually free of grain and shows no signs of defects or blemishes. The blacks are deep and solid with balanced highlights, creating a wide range of grays that never appear harsh or overexposed. No edge-enhancement and no compression artifacts are evident.

The DVD contains the original mono audio track in Polish, supplemented by English subtitles. The audio is in good shape and free of distortion or hiss, though the limited frequency response of the track audible dates the film.

An almost 30-minute video introduction featuring Roman Polanski and co-writer Jerzy Skolimowski is also included, in which they reveal a lot about the tribulations of making such a movie in Poland in the 60s. The story of hearing how the film came about is certainly exciting to hear and the 30 minutes just seem to fly by.

An extensive photo gallery with shots from the set is also included, featuring photos of the cast and crew, as well as promo still images.

On the second disc of the set you will find a collection of Roman Polanski’s short films from 1957-1962. * films in total they are sorted chronologically and give you a glimpse at Polanski’s work before he entered the arena of full blown features. The quality of these short films is staggering, although some noise-reduction artifacts are evident on occasion, which has helped to give them the clean presentation you are witnessing.

’Knife in the Water’ is a cinema highlight and jewel that is often overlooked due to the fact of being a foreign production. Real film fans should definitely check it out though and give Criterion Collection’s remarkable treatment a look.