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The Trial

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Trial

Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Juliet Stevenson
Director: David Jones
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: April 1994
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jason Robards, Polly Walker, Alfred Molina

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

First, let me confess that I have never read much Kafka other than collecting some of his classic quotes (see appendix). Based on what I do know, THE TRIAL appears to be quintessential Kafka.

THE TRIAL starts with the arrest of what we would call a Senior Vice President of a large bank, but it is set in Prague before the turn of the century so he is call a chief clerk (pronounced "clark" in true British fashion) of the bank. The clerk is played excellently by Kyle MacLachlan. Although arrested, he is free to go and is never told the charges.

The clerk is arrogant and tells everyone how ridiculous this all is. But in a world of non-Euclidean geometry, everything that seems right isn't. Slowly the clerk begins to realizes the trouble he is in. When he goes to the court he sees long lines of people who are accused. No one actually goes on trial. Everyone waits.

Finally, he gets the court painter to explain to him that he has only three chances: actual acquittal, ostensible acquittal, and perpetual postponement. The first has never happened, the second has the side effect that you can always be brought up again for the same charge, and the last means you must spend all of your waking hours making sure that you case never advances. From there, his plight gets worse.

Other than Kafka's story and MacLachlan's acting, the high point is the screen play by Harold Pinter. Pinter has a style most typified by the movie Betrayal, of a highly verbal almost Shakespearean style that has the actors taking every word very seriously with constant ripostes between each other.

The direction, settings, and especially the dramatic brass symphonic music are all good. I give the movie ** 1/2, and recommend it.

Now, as promised, here are my 3 favorite Kafka quotes:

I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy.    -Franz Kafka

You are free and that is why you are lost.   *nbsp;-Franz Kafka

People become obsessed with the patterns they create. In a Kafka story the salesman wakes up one morning and finds he has been transformed into a huge ugly bug. What does he do? Does he contemplate this awful change in himself? Nope. He worries about how he's going to turn his clumsy new body over and get out of bed, how he's going to be late to the office, and what his boss will think.     -Richard O'Mara

Copyright 1994 Steve Rhodes

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