Photogenic qualities of aquatic landscapes in the works of Roman Polański


aquatic landscapes
Roman Polański

How to Cite

Kita, B. (2020). Photogenic qualities of aquatic landscapes in the works of Roman Polański. Polish Journal of Landscape Studies, 3(6), 109–120.


In his debut feature film, Knife in the Water (1961), and then in the subsequent films Cul-de-sac (1966), Pirates (1986), Frantic (1988), Bitter Moon (1992), Death and the Maiden (1994), and The Ghost Writer (2010), Roman Polański uses the element of water in a significant way. It is particularly interesting when water is visible and constitutes a crucial element of the films’ narrative—woven from water images and aquatic landscapes. So, how do aquatic landscapes function in Polański’s films? I believe that he develops his individual film style in which the element of water—its being filmed—both emphasizes the protagonists’ motivation, often conditions it, and is also a very important detail which shapes images and, therefore, affects the aesthetics of those images. Does a specific kind of aesthetics created by aquatic landscapes—which are characterized by a particular form of photogeneity—exist? Polański certainly does not use common visual clichés. The beauty of his aquatic landscapes is of a different type. They are interesting, original, non-intrusive, yet noticeable—even if they do not dominate the whole image. The text follows the director’s visual strategies which prove the photogenic potential of his films. I argue that this photogeneity—stemming from, inter alia, aquatic landscapes—determines the attractiveness of Polański’s films.


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