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The Trial [1963] [DVD]

Anthony Perkins , Jeanne Moreau , Orson Welles    Parental Guidance   DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Anthony Perkins, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Orson Welles
  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Elstree Hill Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 11 April 2005
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00095L8E8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,391 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Josef K awakes one morning to be arrested by the police. He is to be put on trial, but no one will tell him what it is he is being accused of. His attempts to profess his innocence of any charge only alienates him from his friends, and his whole world becomes a nightmare.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great (and nicely-presented) film, but incomplete 18 July 2008
'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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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars dvd quality far below average 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The trials and tribulations of Josef K 7 Aug 2009
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but rivetting 27 April 2012
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Might Try Harder 13 Mar 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This DVD was bought to replace a DVD "lent" to a friend, who liked it so much that she still has it.
As "Wellesian" has pointed out, this version omits the (important) Prelude using Welles' "pinboard" narration of Kafka's fable within his novel. It also has no subtitles. On the other hand, this has several "extras" detailing how the film was made, including Welles' quirky search for "the magic moment" when light was changing at evening (one very long one-shot scene depends on the streetlights of Zagreb coming on at one precise moment). I would have liked my old version back, but as I am unlikely to get it, then this will do. It is a powerful film, depending on its black/white oppositions; but (like most of Welles' films) it's not for everyone.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Trial or Error?
I bought this copy around 40 years after I saw it when it first came out, and wasn't disappointed by the memory. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Geoff KERSHAW
1.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to watch
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. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Hawk
1.0 out of 5 stars Dire DVD transfer of a fine film
Agree with the comments of another reviewer - despite the quality of the film, this is one of the worst DVD transfers I've ever seen. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mtsensk
5.0 out of 5 stars Alls Welles that ends Badly
The cinematography composure, the framing is something else, each shot created with the eye of a renaissance painter, as the anti hero, Josef K, is trapped in a noir world of... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles
5.0 out of 5 stars The stuff nightmares are made of
Starting with the already bleak and alienating novel, Welles manufactures a dizzying world of imprisonment and disorientation. Read more
Published on 12 Jun 2012 by Gabor Lux
2.0 out of 5 stars I Missed The Point.
Although the production values were great I found the film to be just awful and very talky. My wife and I struggled through to the end to see what happened. Read more
Published on 22 Aug 2011 by G> Jordon
4.0 out of 5 stars dark, comic, nightmarish, brilliant
It might have thought it impossible to bring Kafka's work effectively to the screen, but Welles achieved that wondrous transformation here. Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2009 by Robin Parmar
2.0 out of 5 stars The Trial
This DVD of the classic film "The Trial" has the opening illustrated introduction by Orson Wells missing; also,(after the first meeting with his advocate), the scenes where he is... Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2009 by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars The Trial
The Trial [DVD] [1963]
This was a piece of work given to me to perform for my A level Drama the DVD helped enormously it gave me an insight to the characters and the roles... Read more
Published on 20 Mar 2009 by C. Chichester
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