|Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. Tate was murdered by the Manson Family.|
Knife in the Water (1962)
d. Roman Polanski
Criterion Collection #215
Another movie review getting run on a book review day because the Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy is actually a hellacious monster. I am done with one out of three volumes after a week of dogged, determined reading- including multiple e reading devices (computer, two phones, kindle) and reading in Court instead of playing Candy Crush, but it is just a terrible slog.
Knife in the Water is Polanski's first feature film, made while he was still in Poland (Knife in the Water is actually in Polish.) His talent, ambition and technical are all fully on display. I'm not familiar with his career path to know how quickly he moved West, but even a casual viewer can tell that they are in the presence of an Auteur level talent.
Considering that the movie features only three actors and is almost entirely set on a small boat, Polanski runs through a cavalcade of differently framed shots that often feature multiple focii points in a manner that would have been considered sophisticated at a Hollywood level. The story of Knife in the Water, about a couple that randomly decides to take a hitchhiker for an over night trip out on... the Baltic Sea? Is packed with tension and humor. His portrait of the troubled marriage of the two lead characters is concise and insightful. At 93 minutes, the film clips along with Hollywood level pacing and editing and you barely have a moment to be distracted.
I'm a huge fan of Polanski- child sex abuse or no child sex abuse- and at the same time I understand why American doesn't want him here. I think it's a loss, and that what he did was forgivable, especially at the time and place when/where it happened. Polanski's Chinatown is probably my favorite movie of all time. The fact that a Polish filmmaker made the greatest California Noir and did it in the 70s is quite an accomplishment, and his other films aren't bad either.