Knife in the Water (Nůz w Wodzie) (1962)

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Released 13-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1962
Running Time 90:13
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roman Polanski

MRA Entertainment
Starring Leon Niemczyk
Jolanta Umecka
Zygmunt Malanowicz
Case ?
RPI ? Music Komeda

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Roman Polanski's feature film debut is an exploration of love and betrayal on the sea of life.

††† Andrej is a squabbling, well-to-do businessman (Leon Niemczyk), accompanying his attractive wife Krystyna (Jolanta Umecka) on a boating trip. On their way to the marina they pick up a hitchhiker that perilously flags them down, almost getting himself run over in the process. The young fellow is keen for a ride and helps the couple get aboard their boat, but is invited to join them on their overnight trip at the last minute.

††† Their young hitcher (Zygmunt Malanowicz) is a loner and a vagrant, carrying knives and living dangerously - but he cannot swim! Repressed and dominated by her husband, Krystyna finds his weaknesses attractive and soon decides to let her hair down. Their time on the boat together becomes tense, as the grumpy husband senses the electricity between the two and begins to stir the pot, as it were.

††† Polanski has a knack for casting beautiful young women in his films and he doesn't disappoint here. Krystyna is played magnificently by Jolanta Umecka - who successfully portrays the frustrated, young trophy wife. As an interesting piece of trivia, the dialogue for both Krystyna and the young hitchhiker were overdubbed by other actors, the latter by Polanski himself - although he is not credited.

††† I'm hesitant to give too much of the plot away. Suffice it to say that the film contains some hints towards Polanski's future directorial style, with inventive camera angles and a few interesting twists to keep the viewer interested. Despite its age and the inevitable comparisons with his later work, I found this simple film to be very enjoyable and rewarding viewing.

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Transfer Quality


††† My most significant gripe with this transfer is that MRA have transferred to DVD the analogue master that was aired by Australian multicultural broadcaster SBS in 1984. How can I tell? It says so in bold captions at the end of the feature.

††† This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is obviously not 16x9 enhanced.

††† The picture is disappointing and quite dull, exhibiting detail comparable to a VHS tape.

††† I really am struggling to find something nice to say about this transfer. One godsend is the lack of any obvious analogue tape artefacts, so we do have something to be thankful for I guess. I didn't notice any MPEG artefacting or aliasing, probably due to the distinct lack of resolution.

††† I can usually tolerate a certain amount of film damage if the movie is worth sitting through, and that is the case in this instance. There are a myriad of film artefacts present here - to list them all individually would be futile. Take my word for the fact that there is a textbook example of almost every possible film artefact†to be found in this transfer - even the cigarette burns are intact. The most annoying problem for me was intermittent shifts in exposure, rendering the film very dark in some moments and overly bright in others - an inconsistency of the most irritating kind.

††† There are subtitles burned into the video stream; a monochrome font as was used by SBS back in the 80s. The subtitles flow consistently with the dialogue and don't present any real problems unless you speak Polish and intend to turn them off.

††† This disc is DVD-5 formatted, so no layer transition is present.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


††† This is a Polish language film and, as with the other two films in this set, the only audio track available is Dolby Digital surround encoded, likely sourced from the original mono master.

††† Dialogue was always prominent in the soundtrack, although it was occasionally consumed by hiss and crackling. The subtitles manage to make up for this problem, so we don't miss any important dialogue in the translation. I only noticed one audio sync issue; lips fell slightly out of sync with the dialogue at 72:30. There are a few small audio dropouts during the feature, coinciding with damaged portions of film and some of these are very noticeable.

††† Regular Polanski composer Komeda contributes yet another a haunting and evocative score, simultaneously lazy and romantic. I found this score quite beautiful and very reminiscent of the work of Bernard Hermann.

††† There was no surround activity or subwoofer response. I attempted to engage Pro Logic II processing but it didn't do this soundtrack any favours.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


††† Absolutely nothing.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††† Criterion recently released a two-disc package of this film in Region 1 with several interesting bonuses.

††† Knife In The Water was released as part of a box set by Anchor Bay in Region 2 with the following extras.

††† The Region 2 box contains the same three feature films as the Region 4 set and a fourth bonus disc of eight short films from varying points in Polanski's career.

††† Reviews I have read speak very highly of the Anchor Bay transfer, and the addition of the above extras makes the Region 2 release the clear winner, although I would be very interested in viewing the Criterion transfer one day.


††† Knife In The Water would be an impressive debut feature for any filmmaker, but coming from Polanski makes this particularly important viewing.

††† The audio and video transfers are heavily artefacted but watchable, and there are absolutely no extras included on the disc.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Saturday, November 08, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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