The Castle (1968)

THE CASTLE (1968)
aka Das Schloss
Article 3864 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-4-2012
Posting Date: 3-13-2012
Directed by Rudolf Noelte
Featuring Maximilian Schell, Cordula Trantow, Trudik Daniel
Country: West Germany
What it is: Kafkaesque frustration

A land surveyor arrives in a small village only to discover he is not wanted or needed, and that his presence disrupts the routine of the village. He becomes obsessed with speaking to an elusive official of the castle that presides over the town.

I think part of the trick to enjoying Kafka is to know that you’re dealing with Kafka, which is to say, that you’re dealing with mysteries with no solutions and labyrinths with no exits. The movie is a fantasy because it can’t be anything else, though it could also be seen as a horror movie in the sense that it presents a very specific type of nightmare, one in which we are trapped in a world in which we don’t know the rules and our efforts to understand them just makes them seem more impenetrable. Personally, I’ve always suspected there’s something profoundly comic about his work, in much the same way that the work of Chekhov is, and like Chekhov, he is often played more for heavy drama. I also suspect that being a protagonist in a Kafka drama was not unlike being trapped into a game of fizzbin and never realizing it. Maybe that’s the reason I think the main flaw of this movie is that it’s just too glum; I think that the makers of the movie had about as much of a sense of humor as the character of the land surveyor. But then, if the land surveyor had had a sense of humor, he wouldn’t have been a Kafka protagonist, would he? Actually, I find Kafka fascinating, but he is an acquired taste.

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