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Trial
     

The Trial

4.0 1
Director: Orson Welles

Cast: Anthony Perkins, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider

 

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Much of Orson Welles' latter-day reputation as an "unfathomable" genius rests upon his seeming unwillingness to tell a story in clear, precise fashion. Sometimes, as in such films as Touch of Evil, Welles' spotty storytelling skills can be forgiven in the light of the excellent visuals. In other cases, as in his 1962 adaptation of Kafka's The Trial,

Overview

Much of Orson Welles' latter-day reputation as an "unfathomable" genius rests upon his seeming unwillingness to tell a story in clear, precise fashion. Sometimes, as in such films as Touch of Evil, Welles' spotty storytelling skills can be forgiven in the light of the excellent visuals. In other cases, as in his 1962 adaptation of Kafka's The Trial, Welles'style comes across as empty virtuosity, precious and petulant when it should be profound. Anthony Perkins plays Joseph K, a man condemned for an unnamed crime in an unnamed country. Seeking justice, Joseph K is sucked into a labyrinth of bureaucracy (Welles once described the character as being a "little bureaucrat" himself, who deserves to be punished. This is never clearly expressed in the finished film). Along the way, he becomes involved with three women -- Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Elsa Martinelli -- who in their own individual ways are functions of the System that persecutes him. While Welles considered The Trial one of his finest films, this enthusiasm is not universally shared; even his most fervent admirers have been known to emerge from a screening of the film with quizzical, disappointed expressions on their faces. On the plus side, Welles and his cinematographer Edmond Richard perform miracles in transforming an abandoned French railway station into the headquarters of a totalitarian, red tape-ridden society. It's also fun to hear Welles' voice emanating from several of the supporting characters (his post-dubbing budget was nil). All in all, however, The Trial never truly works; it is unfair, however, to lay the blame for this entirely on Welles, inasmuch as the 1948 and 1994 attempts to cinematize the original Kafka novel likewise came a cropper.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
In this 1962 production, director Orson Welles uses the same black-and-white palette that made him famous in Citizen Kane to paint a surreal portrait of an ordinary man lost in the abyss of a totalitarian legal system. The plot is simple: Police arrest bank clerk Joseph K (Anthony Perkins) but refuse to tell him why. Citizen K then spends the rest of the film trying to exonerate himself. The theme of the film is the individual's powerlessness against the tyranny of a super state -- or any other force over which meager man has no control. The novel on which Welles based the film -- Franz Kafka's 1925 masterpiece Der Prozess (The Trial) -- used that theme to foreshadow the monstrous injustice of the fascist dictatorships of the 1930s. In the film, Welles follows Citizen K on his odyssey through a labyrinthine legal system that calls to mind the nine circles of Dante's Inferno. To intensify Citizen K's alienation, Welles isolates him in cavernous courtrooms and shadowy streets as K attempts to vindicate himself. Though unrelievedly gloomy, the motion picture has moments of off-the-wall humor. Citizen K's lawyer, for example, is Welles himself, a bedridden good-for-nothing whose nurse has webbed fingers. As K pursues justice, one can almost picture Welles behind the camera gleefully prodding his woebegone marionette deeper and deeper into his maze of despair. At the height of his frustration, K runs through a dark corridor with decaying walls admitting slivers of light that prick his sanity. Perkins exhibits the right mix of confusion, vulnerability, and rebellion to present his character as a hapless victim. Because the film sometimes looks more like a Dali painting than a motion picture, many critics dismissed it as trumpery after it debuted. Decades later, however, some critics took a second look at it, concluding that it was a work of genius. The consensus today is that there is no consensus. Depending on the viewer's tastes and perspective, The Trial is either supremely boring or supremely fascinating.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/09/2015
UPC:
0644827252428
Original Release:
1963
Source:
Nostalgia Family
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:
24,707

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Anthony Perkins Josef K.
Jeanne Moreau Miss Burstner
Romy Schneider Leni
Suzanne Flon Miss Pittl
Elsa Martinelli Hilda
Akim Tamiroff Bloch
Madeleine Robinson Mrs. Grubach
Orson Welles Hastler, advocate
Michel Lonsdale Priest
Arnoldo Foa Inspector A
Max Buchsbaum Examining Magistrate
William Chappell Titorelli
Raoul Delfosse 2nd Policeman
Jess Hahn 2nd Assistant Inspector
Max Haufler Uncle Max
Thomas Holtzmann Bert, the Law Student
William Kearns 1st Assistant Inspector
Fernand Ledoux Chief Clerk
Wolfgang Reichmann Courtroom Guard
Maydra Shore Irmie
Karl Studer Man in Leather
Maurice Teynac Deputy Manager

Technical Credits
Orson Welles Director,Editor,Screenwriter
Louis Dor Makeup
Yves Laplanche Producer
Jean Ledrut Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Jean Mandaroux Art Director
Yvonne Martin Editor
Marc Maurette Asst. Director
Fritz Muller Editor
Edmond Richard Cinematographer
Alexander Salkind Producer
Miguel Salkind Producer
Guy Villette Sound/Sound Designer

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The Trial 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago