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Kafka [DVD]

3.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: JeremyIrons, TheresaRussell, JoelGrey, IanHolm, JeroenKrabbé
  • Directors: Steven Soderbergh
  • Format: PAL, Import
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004ZE41
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,649 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Coming after the festival hit that was "Sex, Lies And Videotape", Steven Soderbergh's second feature was always going to be a tough one... The film he crafted was "Kafka" and it couldn't be any more different from his first if he tried!

Similar to Cronenberg's take on "Naked Lunch" in that it tells the story of Kafka's life through a melding of fact and his own fiction, Soderbergh makes a film that very deftly side-steps the usual arthouse trappings and ends with a film that is very accessible in its mix of style (a hint of horror here, a hint of paranoid thriller there!) Add to it Walt Lloyd's beautiful b&w photography and you have a film that is ripe for re-discovery!!!

Dvd wise you get a decent enough widescreen transfer and a handful of trailers... It's a movie that screams for a special edition one day :-)
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Format: DVD
This is a somewhat curious film, attempting to be old-fashioned - in the sense that we have varying strands from an early-twentieth century writer, as well as setting, production design and various visual iconography - yet at the same time striving for a sense of post-modernist reinvention. So, what we end up with is a stunning, self-referential combination of the 'look' (which mixes elements of Carol Reed's The Third Man and Welles' Citizen Kane), with elements of the steam-punk sub-genre of films like Eraserhead, Brazil, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Barton Fink, etc . The story also concerns itself with the notions of the film-noir, both in terms of characterisation, narrative tension and visual design.

So, with Kafka (1991), we not only have the externally referential - of Kafka writing a story, whilst simultaneously involving himself in a real-life plot that will, in turn, become the story he is writing (The Castle) - but also the internal references to Kafka's own biographical history; from his job at the insurance company, to the difficult relationship with his father, and also his failed love affair etc. In the lead role we have one of Britain's most competent actors, Jeremy Irons, who, although never looking exactly like Kafka, does at least manage to embody the quiet, stubborn, meticulous spirit of the writer (or, at least the image that we have of him). His performance is one of complete restraint, far removed from some of his more caricatured performances of recent years, as he offers up a mirrored perspective for the audience; lingering in the background of the scene and simply reacting to what is going on around him (again, a popular device from Kafka's work).
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Format: DVD
NOTE: This review applies ONLY to said version. And it is NOT about its relations to Franz Kafka nor Jeremy Irons. Personally I bought it because it is directed by Soderbergh (and I think most movies look better in monochrome).

As I do not want anyone else to be mislead as I was, I hereby give a profound warning:
This was the only copy I could get my hands on, and I've been looking forward to watch this for years. This was not any ordinary plastic DVD case I got either, it was a costly cardboard slipcase with a foldable tray inside - it even included a colour image spread across the whole inside of it. Very nice indeed, and this made me say to myself: «Quality!»
And now for the part that makes my intestines wrench and brain reach the point of meltdown! You wanna have a guess? You probably guessed right. GOOD OL' RETRO LETTERBOX! Excactly! Inside this lovely wrapping there is to be found nothing else but a widescreen image shrunk to 4:3 format (please correct me if I'm not using the terms right). And in addition, the video is more pixellated than what I normally experience. To be honest, I had to turn it off as it simply ruined the pleasure of watching the film. (As a comment and suggestion I advise all of you to look for Blu-ray version of any movie you're thinking of buying - ESPECIALLY movies older than ten years - as it will serve as a seal of quality, so to say. At least then you know what you will get).

To summarise: look for another release of this picture. I know there is at least one other beside this (perhaps available from one of the biggest second-hand online stores?)

- Thank you for reading!
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Format: DVD
Most reviews found elsewhere of Kafka (1991) starring Jeremy Irons seem to come from two poles: one which sees the film, which meshes fantasy and Franz Kafka's supposed lived reality, as a betrayal of the Czech-born German language author and the other which adores its surreal attempts to recreate a Dystopian nightmare in kafkaesque spirit. I don't think it's as experimental as its defenders claim. And I think the main problem is precisely that, as an alternative to making a literary biopic or adaptation, it tries to depict the "kafkaesque": "Kafkaesque" has always been a more simplified, watered down representation - a cliché in fact - of the author's startlingly original and idiosyncratic work. Only very loosely associated with the author, it stands for something senseless and disorientating, an environment ruled by omniscient but anonymous bureaucrats of indisputable authority, passing cold-eyed and seemingly arbitrary judgement on the individual who is at their mercy and has no recourse to escape or human justice. Max Brod, Kafka's close friend and literary executor, reportedly hated the term "kafkaesque" because he felt it contradicted his own close-hand knowledge of the author and caricatured his great work.

The invented plot of the film centres on Kafka's attempts to solve the mysterious death of a work colleague and friend. In doing so, it heroises him - a thought the author himself might have found ridiculous.
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