The Trial (1962)

THE TRIAL (1962)
aka Le Proces
Article 2196 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-21-2007
Posting Date: 8-17-2007
Directed by Orson Welles
Featuring Anthony Perkins, Arnoldo Foa, Jess Hahn

A man finds himself arrested, but on what charge he is not told. He tries to wend his way through the legal system, but finds himself distracted, diverted and kept in the dark about his case.

It’s been years since I’ve read the Kafka novel on which this is based, so I can’t personally say whether this movie version is true to the novel; the novel, which feels like a bad and frustrating dream, is by its very nature difficult to remember. However, I have read that liberties were taken with the story, but that in essence, the movie does capture the book. I am inclined to believe this; the sense of impenetrable labyrinths, paranoia and claustrophobia is very strong. Furthermore, since Kafka himself never finished the novel (it was edited by a friend after his death), it’s nearly impossible to say what would constitute a true version of the novel. At any rate, this satirical fantasy is fascinating to look at, and the style of the movie may well have influenced directors such as David Lynch and Terry Gilliam (I found myself thinking of both ERASERHEAD and BRAZIL while watching this). Anthony Perkins is memorable as the beleaguered citizen under arrest, though he seems unaware how his own haughty arrogance and selfishness only make matters worse for himself. Akim Tamiroff and Orson Welles are also memorable as another accused man and as Josef K’s advocate. It’s rather difficult to follow, but I suspect that may be the point; I think we are supposed to be as lost as Josef K is in the process, and equally frustrated with the fact that no one ever gives a straight answer to any question. It’s fascinating, but it helps if you’re in the mood for something like this.


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