Knife in the Water [2 Discs] [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1962]

To those who love DVDs, it goes without saying that the name Criterion Collection is virtually synonymous with top quality. Their tireless efforts to release the most comprehensive versions of important, historical films has earned them a reputation as the best in the business, and their release of director Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water is certainly no exception. Presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the image is virtually flawless. At the time of this Criterion release, the film was over 40 years old, though the transfer bests other company's releases of films that are only half that age. The crisp, black-and-white cinematography stands as strong as the day it was filmed, with solid blacks and no artifacting and a remarkably clean transfer. Of course, Knife in the Water was filmed long before recent advances in sound technology, but the solid, well-balanced soundtrack presented in Polish Dolby Digital Mono (with English subtitles) is full bodied and free of any hiss or distortion. Criterion truly has done an exceptional job in presenting this film in the best possible form. As good as the presentation of the film itself is, however, the aspect of this release that is likely to truly peak interest in film fans is the inclusion of Polanski's much sought-after short films. As with the presentation of the feature itself, these films look nothing less than remarkable considering their age. Filmed in black-and-white for the most part, the images as presented offer pitch-perfect contrast, with the rare color segments well balanced and vivid. A video introduction by Polanski and co-screenwriter Jerzy Skolimowski, while on any other release would likely only skim the surface, goes on for nearly 20 minutes, offering minute detail on every aspect of the production from location to casting to the film's jazzy score. Rounding out the disc is an impressively comprehensive collection of rare publicity and production stills. The only possible omission that fans may fault this release for is the lack of a commentary track by the director; given that Polanski has such a rich history in film, it would have been great to hear him talk about the production. This said, it should be noted that the director hesitates to participate on such tracks for almost any DVD release of his films, so the inclusion of his extended introduction and some great liner notes make this omission one that is easily overlooked. A fantastic release and another score for Criterion.

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    Special Features

    • New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound
    • Video interview with director Roman Polanski and co-screenwriter Jerzy Skolimowski
    • A collection of rare publicity and production stills
    • English subtitles translation by Roman Polanski
    • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
    • Collection of Roman Polanski's short films from 1957-1962, including Murder, Teeth Smile, Break Up the Dance, Two Men and a Wardrobe, The Lamp, When Angels Fall, The Fat and the Lean, and Mammals


    Knife in the Water
    Noz w Wodzie was not only Polanski's first feature-length film, but it also marked the first screen appearance of Polish actor Zygmunt Malanowicz who played a young student. In fact, the only experienced thespian in the featured trio is Leon Niemczyk as Andrzej, the self-important, somewhat arrogant husband of Kataryna. Andrzej and Kataryna pick up the student as he is hitchhiking and invite him to join them on their boat for an outing. As the threesome head out to open water, the husband and the student start a kind of jealous interaction that keeps Kataryna mildly amused. What began as a macho sparring ends up in a fight that has the student falling overboard and the husband swimming to shore for help. But appearances are deceiving, as the husband will soon discover. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Leon Niemczyk
      Leon Niemczyk - Andrzej
    • Image coming soon
      Jolanta Umecka - Krystyna
    • Zygmunt Malanowicz
      Zygmunt Malanowicz - Young Boy

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