On the morning of his 30th birthday, Joseph K. wakes up to every person's worst nightmare when two strange men enter his home and place him under arrest. He doesn't take the charges seriously. When summoned to a hearing, h... more »e refuses to accept the case being brought against him. The more he fights the system, the more confused and destructive things become.« less
Kafka is really, really intensive reading. Having read this recently, I realized that this is the sort of thing that stands up to repeated readings. The embodiment of meticulous precision. Had to get this DVD R2...too expensive in the U.S. Why???...And for the added reason that Kafka did not finish this novel properly. MacLachlan is close to his Twin Peaks days here and there is quite a bit of variation in his British/European accent in this production...this is somewhat distracting, not overwhelmingly, but enough to notice. Otherwise, this is great!
Repetition is the mother of emphasis...one certainly gets that (overload!) here. Much of what Kafka is reacting/proacting to in all of his works is the misery imposed by the significant amount of increase in the 20th century of basic de-humanizing, de-moralising, brain-draining red-tape...the 'mechanizing' of the mind (Mr. Popplewick!)...from the federal level, down to the state level, down to the county level, down to the town/city level...down to the place of employment level...MASSES and MASSES of IT! We take it for granted everyday now...but it was foreign to mankind for millenia. Lord knows my own head feels dead at the end of every weekday because of it...
Harold Pinter (love his 'Birthday Party' play!) does a great, if equilateral job, at sqeezing the juice out of this work.
Not as good as Orson's!
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Whilst this was nowhere near as good as the 1963 version it wasn't too bad either. It appears from other reviews that people were bagging this simply because they failed to understand it. Kafka isn't supposed to be accessable. He is dense, sophisticated and surreal. He is also riotously funny, although many miss his humour. As for the end of The Trial (which is, in my humble opinion, the greatest novel written this century, and probably never could be done justice by a film), you are not supposed to understand what was going on (K didn't either! ). That is the whole point. The Trial is, amongst many other things, a scathing examination of the meaninglessness of bureaucracy. I dare say if you persist with either the book or the film, but particularly the book, you will be greatly rewarded.All in all this is a very good, albeit not great, film. In future fellow reviewers, don't bag a film just because you don't understand it!"
Great move--TERRIBLE DVD
c b prescott | Brooklyn, NY USA | 04/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I give the movie five stars. The DVD, one (see below). I won't focus much on the merits of the film aside from saying that the story of the film is one of the most important works of the twentieth-century and is central to the modern, and post-modern, human experience. I saw this movie at the Angelika in New York when it came out. One of Hollywood's crimes was not giving it a distribution deal in the U.S. I have to admit that, the first time I saw it, I was somewhat disappointed by the portrayals in general. However, I hadn't read the novel in several years despite being a Kafka devotee. I reread it yet again and later viewed the film on video tape. The more I watched it, the more I realized what a wonderful job Harold Pinter did with the screenplay.Now, as far as the DVD itself goes, this is one of the WORST transfers I have ever seen. Thanks go to the folks at Fox Lorber for another disappointing product. I think my original VHS copy had better image quality than this. Furthermore, as another reviewer notes, this film is beautifully photographed, yet the DVD is full screen only. The principals of Fox Lorber should be locked up for not releasing this in widescreen.As for the extras? Yeah, right. There is a chapter selection function. How's that? There's not even a general menu, no trailers, interviews, etc. Nothing. Poor ole Franz. Still not being treated properly after all these years."
For those who did not understand the point... (*SPOILERS*)
a113 | 01/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite having seen the two and a half overall rating of the film, I decided to rent it, for two reasons: I had not read the book but felt that I should at least make myself familiar with the content and, well, I just like looking at Kyle MacLachlan. For the first reason, this review will not relate the movie to the book. For both reasons, I might have given at it more stars than it deserves.Having just watched the movie, I became very curious of the sources of its very low rating and re-read the reviews. It seems that many people just did not understand what was going on, and I immodestly decided to take it upon myself to provide them with a possible explanation.As a reviewer before me wrote, this movie is indeed a scathing satire of the vast bureaucratic system. Think tax returns, medical insurance papers, red tape at work, getting accused of a crime you did not commit (god forbid!)--"This is Hell!" you say. And Hell it is. Or the purgatory. Or the Jugdement. Or all of these at once. Recall the apple in the first scene, the seductresses, the flogger, the heat in the painter's attic, the references to the scriptures by the priest... I think there are two major currents to the movie/book. First of all, it is the idea that hell is created by you and by people around you--no need for demons and hot coals (c.f. "No Exit" by Jean-Paul Sartre). In the conversation with Joseph K., the painter explains that there are only three possible fates awaiting an accused man: definite acquittal--but he has not seen anyone who got acquitted (they do not end up in hell !), ostensible acquittal (for those who join the system actively--become one of the bureaucrats--and torture each other), and indefinite postponement (for those eternally waiting souls--the passive parts of the system). By refusing to join the system in either capacity, you escape hell. Superficially Joseph K. does not seem to join the system, and yet, subtly, he does. He gets very close to escaping at times, but he obviously does not make it. His sin is his pride. It brought him to hell and it prevents him from ever leaving it. Remember, at the very end, he actually makes what may seem the right decision to assist his executioners and break the vicious circle, however he does it for the wrong reason: "I don't what it to be said, that I wanted to begin it all over again..." he says. Right before his death, he gets a glimpse of god (I am not sure about this interpretation though) and he is very close to breaking away, yet he cannot because he thinks his death shameful (his last phrase: "Like a dog..."). No doubt he will wake up again to see two "public servants" eat his breakfast and leave him to taste a bite of that apple again. As we all know, one does not escape hell.The second major idea, I think, is the tri-unity of the purgatory, the trial, and hell. In Kafka's world they are one and the same.I am sure the most fascinating ideas of the movie came from Kafka's immortal novel, however the movie certainly reflected them. Kyle MacLachlan IS a conceited yuppie, and he is organic in the role of Joseph K. The casting of Anthony Hopkins as the gatekeeper is a bit too obvious for my taste--he is always cast into these kinds of roles. I cannot complain too much of this though, since in these roles he is uniformly good. The visuals are beautiful, and Prague is my love. I think "The Trial" is going to be the next book I read..."
It's an allegory!!
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 08/08/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At some point in your life you begin to question all of the reasons you used to give yourself to explain why you do what you do. Not only that, you discover that other people, who you thought were on your side are really standing on the sidelines judging you. You are, in other words, on trial: you need to justify your way of life not only to yourself but to others. What brings this on, perhaps, is the recognition of your own mortality, or the recognition that your ambitions may never be realized because your future depends upon others who have little interest in your concerns. This is really what Kafka's novel _The Trial_ is about: it is an "existentialist" allegory, where the "trial" stands for the fact that you find yourself at some point, unexpectedly, needing to account for and justify your life, but it is never quite clear what (if anything) you have done wrong, who it is that you have to justify yourself to or why. This film version of Kafka's novel is particularly nice, for its portrayal of what Sartre would call a "bad faith" response to this situation. Kyle McLaughlin is perfect as a brash, arrogant young man who has begun to question his life and has begun to see the eyes of others who judge him harshly -- but who refuses to take his situation totally seriously. He turns to others for help: the law, an artist, a priest, but fails to really even heed their advice to the degree it appears to warrant (deciding, for example, to flirt with the seductive nursemaid of his lawyer, rather than listen to his counsel). The end doesn't seem to me to be at all puzzling or obscure (as several others have suggested in their reviews of the film), when the film as a whole is "read" as an allegory of life and the despair of a universe where there is no fixed meaning. It turns out, in fact that his situation is much more serious than he has been treating it: he will die an ignominious death ("like a dog" as he says). Just prior to death, he glimpses something in a window -- in terms of the allegory, perhaps, he has an insight into the possible "meaning of it all" -- and yet the insight is only partial, or transitory. It does not save him -- and then it is all over, as suddenly and unexpectedly as it began."