Kafka - the way you've never seen him before!
D. Roberts | Battle Creek, Michigan United States | 09/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As most people will surmise, the very title of this DVD is a sardonic inside-joke. The term "wonderful life" goes along with Kafka about as well as tropical vacations in Antartica. When I first saw the title I knew I would not be able to resist buying this DVD - even if only out of curiousity.The DVD is four short-stories set to film; only the 1st one relates to Kafka. In the title story there is an attempt to comically discern the nature of Kafka's inspiration for his famous short story, THE METAMORPHOSIS. It's kind of like what they did with Shakespeare in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, only this time it's in a twisted Kafkaesque sort of way.Of the rest of the production, stories 2 and 4 are so-so. Story 3, however, called THE DEAL, is absolutely hilarious. It pokes fun at 2 pompous CEOs who get together and make asinine decisions while untold thousands of jobs hang in the balance. Anyone who has followed the scandals of ENRON, WORLDCOM, etc. will find this a refreshing satire.I would recommend this DVD for all fans of Franz Kafka as well as people who like "different" sorts of short-stories. Be forewarned, however, it's not altogether done in good taste. If that does not bother you, then by all means put this one on your wish-list!"
A note on absurdity
Mic Finger | Gomel, Belarus | 07/30/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Kafka is well known for the achievement of absurdity in his work. It must be remembered, however, that Kafka's absurdity was not absurdity for its own sake, and though often comical, was nightmarish and profound. The absurdity seen here, though clever and very funny, isn't what Kafka was about. That doesn't at all discredit this short film, but it is important to make a distinction."
Lindsay | San Diego, CA | 02/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to speak in defense of "Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life." Yes, the idea of mixing Kafka and Capre is entirely absurd, but isn't that what makes it so incredibly Kafka? Kafka always used absurdity to depict the modern world, and I think he would have appreciated the short immensely for that (though the end was a bit shakey, but I guess that's what we have to give to Capre.) I loved this short, as well as the others on the DVD."
tvtv3 | Sorento, IL United States | 10/15/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"FRANZ KAFKA'S IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE AND OTHER STRANGE TALES is a DVD collection of four short films that were a part of Sundance in 1995. These films are a mixed bag of absurdity, drama, comedy, and poignancy.
The first film on the DVD is the title feature of the DVD, "FRANK KAFKA'S IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE". The writings of Kafka and the films of Frank Capra express two worldviews that are almost completely polar opposite of each other. This short film brings elements of both together to create an absurd little story that tells how Kafka was inspired to write his famous story, "The Metamorphosis". This short won the 1995 Oscar for Best Short Film, Live Action.
The next short is entitled "SEVEN GATES". Two brothers who live very different lives meet up together unexpectedly on the road home to their parent's for Christmas. The family's driveway is incredibly long and the brothers have to open up seven different gates across the driveway in order to pass through. Along the way they have a conversation.
The third short on the DVD is "THE DEAL". Two of the world's most powerful businessmen meet together to discuss a joint project that will make the two men THE most powerful men on the planet. A duel of witty banter becomes foreplay to the agreement that is ended by "testifying" to each other (if you know the origin of the word you'll understand). After watching the short, I saw in the credits that this short was written by Lewis Black, the obnoxious comedian. If you like his comedy, you will probably enjoy this short. It's the only short of the four that would have been rated PG-13 or R.
The last short on the DVD is "MR. McALLISTER'S CIGARETTE HOLDER". The film is based upon a short story by one of the lesser known writers of the American South, Mark Steadman. The story is filmed in black and white tones and follows one Mr. McAllister. Mr. McAllister finds a metal cigarette holder while working in the fields one day. It becomes his prized possession and seems a good luck charm that leads him to a beautiful albino girl, named Dora, that becomes his common law wife. On a birthday trip to the beach with Dora, Mr. McAllister discovers something that shakes him to his core and is shown what true love really is.
I enjoy watching short films, but I have to admit that I only enjoyed two of the four films, "FRANZ KAFKA'S IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE" and "MR. MCALLISTER'S CIGARETTE HOLDER". "SEVEN GATES" has some touching moments, but it didn't do much for me and while "THE DEAL" is humorous, it's really nothing more than an extended punch-line drug out for almost twenty-five minutes. This DVD isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy short films, you might want to check it out."