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The Trial [DVD]


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Product details

  • Actors: Anthony Perkins, Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Elsa Martinelli
  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Producers: Yves Laplanche, Miguel Salkind, Alexander Salkind
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Whv
  • DVD Release Date: 3 May 2004
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001FYQ5O
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,628 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Orson Welles directs this adaptation of Kafka's nightmarish novel, about a man lost in a system of intractable bureaucracy. Josef K (Anthony Perkins), a humble office worker, is arrested suddenly and without any explanation. Not even told of the crime he has supposedly committed, K finds himself on trial for his life by a monolithic judicial system. Once the gears of the state have started turning, K discovers that they are impossible to stop.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Wellesian on 18 July 2008
Format: DVD
'The Trial' is a wonderful film; however, the film presented here is a re-edited version which omits the eerie (and arguably crucial) opening scene, featuring Kafka's Parable of the Law read by Orson Welles. The picture quality on this disc is excellent, and the documentaries included are interesting, but the film itself is incomplete.

Cheaper versions present the film in full, but with muddy visuals and muffled sound; the 2004 Studio Canal edition has a running time of 113 minutes to this version's 110, so may contain the complete film. I'm going to try that one next...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Captain Pugwash on 7 Aug 2009
Format: DVD
Haunting and atmospheric adaptation of Kafka's seminal political satire, Orson Welles described this as his `best film', and while I'm not totally convinced about the truth of that statement, it is still a rich and visually satisfying movie that remains faithful to Kafka's biting satire wrapped up in magic realism that was published to great acclaim in 1926.

Anthony Perkins' neurotic and twitchy style of acting is perfect for the central role of accused Josef K, who is put on trial for no apparent reason but who remains free to live his life in the meantime, whilst being stalked by the sinister police Inspector and plagued by a host of ultimately weak and unhelpful characters, including Jeanne Moreau's cabaret performer neighbour Miss Bursteau, and Welles himself as law advocate Halstead.

Welles decided to modernize certain aspects of the novel, he also changed the ending slightly and rearranged the book's chapters for filming. Filmed in various locations across Europe (all apart from Kafka's home town of Prague where his work was still banned as subversive) the film is visually strong, and the picture quality in this version is superb for a film that is nearly fifty years old. The famous pin-screen animation sequence that opens the film is inspired, and lends a gravitas that is often lost when adapting `serious' classics for the big screen. In some parts the movie comes across as a black comedy, while in others it is more dramatic and occasionally stagey - although the latter could be said for the majority of films made in that era. In many ways Kafka's story works better as a stage play and Welles, in his wisdom, undoubtedly knew this and created his version accordingly.

While the film has been decried in some quarters as dry and dull, it came across to me as a well-crafted and conscientious piece of work, and a worthy adaptation of a novel that deserves its status as a modern classic.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By thomas12321 on 15 Jan 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I know this DVD comes cheap, but if you're really interested in this movie, spend the extra money and get the restored version (released on Warner Home Video). The picture quality of the present edition (Elstree Hill) is like that of a much played VHS tape, and the sound is faint and woolly. It seems to me, too, that the aspect ratio must have been changed to fit the TV screen, so you're actually missing a large part of any given scene.
There's no bonus material.
I suppose the low standard price should have warned me, still this came as a dissappointment. "The Trial", with top acting from Anthony Perkins, great direction from Welles, and a visually interesting production, deserves better.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Rottweiller Swinburne on 27 April 2012
Format: DVD
If ever one could nominate a film-maker who could be characterised as being a colossus with feet of clay, it would probably be Orson Welles. With a talent for getting himself into trouble almost as great as his creative genius, he was the archetypal Nearly Man - a creator of undoubted genius, but always with a flaw somewhere in his work, or in his life; something not quite right which almost always stymied his best efforts somewhere along the line.
"The Trial", based on Kafka's novel of 1925, is a case in point. Like "Touch of Evil", made a few years earlier (in 1958 -"Trial" was made in 1962) it is almost brilliant... but not quite.
Anthony Perkins, the perfect Mr. Twitch, plays Joseph K, a lowly functionary in a faceless, unspecified bureaucracy. For no reason that neither we nor he ever learn, he is fingered for an unspecified crime. He spends the rest of the film trying to find out what the crime is, how he can put things right, and what is going to happen to him when it becomes clear that, like Winston Smith in "Nineteen Eighty-Four", he cannot put it right no matter what he does. His family, friends and acquaintances appear and disappear with perplexing evanescence, and things happen with a reasonless inexorability, as they do in dreams. In the end he is "disappeared", but his exit is accompanied by a hysterical laughter indicating that, perhaps, the victory is his after all. Or not, as the case may be... it's Kafka, after all (though there are, apparently - I haven't read the book yet - considerable differences between book and film).
As usual in a Welles film, the cinematography is breath-taking in its sheer audacity and lustrous beauty. Shot in stark black-and-white, it makes full use of the chiaoscuro afforded by the settings employed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hawk on 28 Feb 2013
Format: DVD
I was excited about seeing this film when I bought this DVD in a local shop. The combination of Perkins, Welles and Kafka seemed a wonderful match.

It might still be.

I tried watching this and had to stop after about 15 minutes. Nothing wrong with the performances and direction but the quality of this transfer is awful. A previous reviewer likened it to an old VHS transfer, I'd actually liken it, in quality, to a pirate movie. The picture fills the screen in a most peculiar way and the sound is very poor as though recorded on a video camera in a cinema. I'm not saying this is the case but that is how poor it is.

Hopefully there are other DVD copies out there which are better quality than this.
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