Welles applied his directorial style to Kafka?s landmark 1925 novel about Joseph K., an office clerk who gets arrested without being told why. The film concentrates on the atmosphere of K?s world, accompanied by the dreamy... more » musical leitmotif. The sets are typical Welles baroque, massive structures. Includes an introduction by Tony Curtis and the original theatrical trailer for Orson Welles? "Compulsion". B&W
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.
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, 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...
I consider this version of the book fair. Perkins does an alright job. I think the best version is the one with Kyle MacLachlan and Anthony Hopkins.
SURREALIST ABSURDIST MELODRAMA YOU'LL LOVE
Jon | NY | 03/31/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can I say? For a brief period of time though exiled from the USA Orson Welles made some of his finest films including outstanding work by actors and crew who obviously cared.
Though I often have something to dissect within the films I review, here I'll just offer bullet-points regarding some things I love about "The Trial" and the Milestone copy in specifically:
1) The picture and sound are great and the folks at Milestone are very sweet.
2)This is Welles' best 'villain' role, surpassing even his over-the-top drunk cop in "Touch Of Evil". His role as the 'Advocate' is performed seductively and even vaguely humorously, and when he spells out (through a allegoric story) the hideous truth behind 'K's indictment it is one of film history's most chilling moments.
3) Akim Tamiroff never disappoints in Welles' films and next to his role as the aging crook in "Mr.Arkadin" this may be his best.
4)The sets and lighting are astonishing and grandly baroque. You'll just have to see it. 'Nuff said.
5)Tony Perkins is outstanding as 'K'. I don't know about the book, but the film requires his character be slightly affected, boyish, indignant, impatient and outraged. He is all these things and more, including the slight nebbish quality that so many 'guilty' men acquire. Whether speaking quietly to his cousin or close to a nervous breakdown in front of the 'condemned' he is at all times believable and sincere in his portrayal.
That being said, the film is a little expensive for the casual viewer, but oh! so worth it. The film feels like a downward spiral, great rainy-day or midnight fare when you have no other distractions. Daylight and the phone ringing will kill the mood.
If you are like me, you will go into "The Trial" already having been a fan of at least a couple of other Welles' films, Luis Buñuel, "Eraserhead", and late 1950's Euro cinema and you will not find yourself disappointed."
A surreal film noir nightmare
Matthew Farrell | Tempe, Arizona | 11/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The logic of this story is that of a dream... a nightmare." So Orson warns us in the opening prologue, and viewers would do well to heed that: this is certainly a surreal, abstract film filled to the gills with bizarre imagery and symbolism that may take multiple viewings to unravel.
The story is that of Joseph K., who awakens one morning to find himself under arrest. What are the charges? Never said, of course: that'll come out at the trial.
Most of this movie is dialogue, and if you're bored by talk-fests, you'd best skip this movie as it requires you to (gasp!) pay attention and actually use your brain. But aside from witty banter, the film is a visual feast for the eyes. The cinematography comes close to stealing the show in this: Orson outdoes himself with odd lighting and sets that play the black-and-white medium to the hilt.
I've never read the Kafka novel this is based on, so I don't know how many liberties Orson took with the story. Divorced from that preconception and bias, the movie certainly stands on its own, and has quickly become one of my favorites.
This dvd is bare bones: no special features to speak of. However, if you just want a copy of the movie itself, you can't beat the price.
Paranoia on Film
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 12/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
Paranoia on Film
"The Trial" by Franz Kafka is on the reading lists of many high schools and colleges and most of us are basically familiar with it. The book depicts reality based upon state of mind. Orson Welles took Kafka's book and transformed into an incredible cinematic experience starring Anthony Perkins as Joseph K. When K awakes one morning he finds that the police are arresting him without telling him why and do not take him into custody. This of course causes K's life to become warped. He has no idea how to act and he doesn't know how to not get himself into any deeper trouble. He is evidently led to a secret meeting which turns out to be his trial and he gets a lawyer, Orson Welles, himself, . K is a marked man who finds that every woman he meets is attracted to him but K cannot understand the game he has been thrown into and he finds the rules to be shocking. As he studies the legal system he understand that he becomes more and more doomed and for no reason. Set in an unnamed country, we se a city of decay and Welles used Kafka's own feelings about how Jews had been persecuted during the second World War and then updated it to a post war setting in which the law becomes the enemy of every man or as we see in the case of K, everyman. The film condemns the abuses of the law universally and what happens in the film could happen anywhere. Every word of dialog in the film is important and the cinematography is powerful in its starkness. This is a dark film that moves on fear yet maintains a dramatic pathos throughout as well as a sense of humor. The film jumps off of the screen and shakes the viewer. The film is a masterpiece and is a perfect example of how to film a text. Welles remains totally faithful to Kafka's vision and we get a nightmare of bureaucracy gone wrong. It is a story of displacement of a man who is totally consumed. He is a Freudian picaro who journeys in despair through the bowels of the legal system and shows us how justice is stifled. "
Milestone DVD is Best DVD Transfer Yet of Welles Classic
Lemmy Caution | San Francisco, CA | 02/26/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen only two good video transfers of The Trial (1963) -- the laserdisc by Roan Group, and this DVD by the Milestone Collection/Image. All the other tapes and discs are cheap, terrible-quality ripoffs. Do yourself a favor and avoid them.
The Milestone DVD looks and sounds excellent -- I think they actually used the original negative discovered in a storage unit in Manhattan? -- you can really appreciate the eerie beauty of this film's high-contrast, black-and-white visuals, the weird sets and locations, and great performances (esp. by Anthony Perkins, Orson Welles, and Akim Tamiroff).
I also love Franz Kafka's novel and have always been a bit disappointed that Welles changed the ending (slightly) -- based on interviews with Peter Bogdanovich, Welles couldn't really come to grips with Kafka's totally despairing conclusion. But don't worry, it's still a lot more satisfying than the completely tacked-on "happy ending" that was forced on Welles for his 1942 adaptation of The Magnificent Ambersons. In a way, Welles's final scene for his version of The Trial is just as offbeat and ambiguous as anything in Kafka's stories.