For American audiences, Roman Polanskis 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 trials sentencing. Further tarnishing his image was the far lesser crime of 1999s The Ninth Gate, a shoddy return to the subject matter of his first great U.S. film, 1969s Rosemarys 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: 1962s Knife in the Water. The films 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