A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Karethe Linnaae - Knife Out Of Water
Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Some years ago I read a book of short stories by Milan Kundera. One of the stories has remained in my memory.

A young married couple living in the former Eastern Block country in Europe have to plan their vacation ahead. They finally get permission and they are driving to their resort destination. They are slightly bored so the woman suggests that they stop for gasoline and play a game. He is to gas up and then she will walk further on a pretend that she is thumbing a ride. He agrees. He picks her up and the game gets vicious when they say things to each other that they would otherwise have never said. He thinks she plays too easy, she thinks he is a sexist pig.

That story has remained in my memory because I associate it with a Polanski's classic 1962 film Knife in the Water. I saw it in the Israeli Cultural Institute in Mexico City sometime in 1964. In this film a couple on their way to a weekend escape in their boat, pick up a male hitchhiker and invite him to their boat. A rivalry insues for the attentions of the woman.

There is something European about the story and the film. While I have seen every film Charlotte Rampling (the quintessential European woman) I thought she was a fish out of water in the 1982 American film The Verdict with Paul Newman. Her "Europeaness" was diluted.

Norwegian film lighting technician Karethe Linnaae oozes European. Her accent is just right and her voice low enough to instantly alert you to her presence. She is the kind of woman that if you invite her to a bar/restaurant (the Railway Club on Dunsmuir, for example) men (and women) will ask me, "Who is she?" I can imagine a knife fight over her and Kundera would write a story about Karethe if he ever met her. He would write how she is a wrench in any mixture of men and how they will abandon all pretenses of fair play and gentlemanly behaviour to attract her attention.

While I have not seen her for a long while I remember her easy smile and her warmth. I am grateful to have met her.


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