The Devil in the Magic City

For American audiences, Roman Polanski’s directorial abilities have largely been obscured by the ongoing legal mess he created when he was arrested in 1977 for drugging and sexually abusing then-13-year-old Samantha Geimer, and subsequently fleeing the country before the trial’s sentencing. Further tarnishing his image was the far lesser crime of 1999’s The Ninth Gate, a shoddy return to the subject matter of his first great U.S. film, 1969’s Rosemary’s Baby.

But before all of that, when he was a recent graduate of the Lodz film school in Poland, Polanski made what is possibly the single greatest directorial debut in the history of cinema: 1962’s Knife in the Water. The film’s deeply pessimistic story of a wealthy couple that takes a young stranger on a sailing trip unfolds in sharp contrast to the breathtaking cinematography, one of the last exquisite manipulations of monochrome in cinema. The version showing this Thursday is a new high-definition transfer that re-creates the feeling of the original 35mm.
Thu., May 7, 8:30 p.m., 2009

 
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