Knife in the Water (film)

Knife in the Water (film)
Knife in the Water

Original Polish poster
Directed by Roman Polanski
Produced by Stanislaw Zylewicz
Written by Jerzy Skolimowski
Roman Polański
Jakub Goldberg
Starring Leon Niemczyk
Jolanta Umecka
Zygmunt Malanowicz
Roman Polanski (voice)
Anna Ciepielewska (voice)
Distributed by Zespol Filmowy (Poland)
Kanawha Films Ltd (USA)
Release date(s) 9 March 1962 (1962-03-09)
Running time 94 minutes
Country Poland
Language Polish

Knife in the Water (Polish: Nóż w wodzie) is a 1962 Polish drama film directed by Roman Polański. It is Polanski's first feature film, featuring three characters in a story of rivalry and sexual tension.



Andrzej (Leon Niemczyk) and Krystyna (Jolanta Umecka) are driving to a lake to go sailing when they come upon a young man (Zygmunt Malanowicz) hitchhiking in the middle of the road. After nearly hitting him, Andrzej invites the young man to pick his seat and to take a nap while they continue driving. When they arrive at the docks, instead of leaving the young man behind, Andrzej invites him to sail with them for the day. The young man accepts the offer, and, not knowing much about sailing, is forced to learn many hard lessons from Andrzej.

Meanwhile, tension gradually builds between Andrzej and the unnamed hitchhiker as they vie for the attentions of the young wife. The title refers to the major turning point in the film when Andrzej taunts the young man with the latter's treasured pocket knife, which is accidentally lost in the water. A fight ensues between Andrzej and the hitchhiker and the latter falls into the water. The husband and wife search for him, but cannot find him and assume that he has drowned, since earlier he had claimed that he could not swim. Wife and husband quarrel about what to do next about the situation, resulting in the husband fleeing to escape his problem, by jumping off the yacht and swimming to shore. Afterwards, once the young man realizes that the husband has jumped the yacht, he comes out from hiding behind a buoy on the lake, and returns to the yacht where Krystyna is drying off and presumably wondering what action to take next. Before the young man goes on his way they become passionate towards each other. When Krystyna sails into the dock, Andrzej is waiting for her. He wants to go the police to report the young man as missing, but Krystyna tells him that the young man returned, and he is unconvinced even when Krystyna confesses to having been unfaithful with the young man. Andrzej appears confused and the car does not move.


  • Leon Niemczyk as Andrzej
  • Jolanta Umecka as Krystyna
  • Zygmunt Malanowicz as Young Boy


Knife in the Water was shot by Roman Polanski in 1962 using only three actors. It marked Polanski's debut as feature-length director. Two of the actors (Jolanta Umecka, who plays Krystyna and Zygmunt Malanowicz, who plays the young man) had virtually no previous professional acting experience. Krzysztof Komeda composed the film's music and the featured saxophonist was the Swede Bernt Rosengren.

Critical reception

Knife in the Water won the Golden Wolf at the 1963 Bucharest Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1963 Academy Awards,[1] the first Polish motion picture to receive this kind of recognition. Time used a still from the film, with Umecka and Malanowicz on the verge of a kiss, as the cover of an issue featuring international cinema.[2] The film has been included in lists of the best debut feature films[3] and was ranked #61 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.[4]

See also


External links

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