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on 7 May 2017
This DVD version of the 1960's film is excellent. It really portrays Franz Kafka's sense of the mysterious and the inexplicable. Anthony Perkins is well cast as the principal character - Mr. K.
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on 1 April 2017
Thrilled with my purchase. It arrived on time and plays beautifully. So glad that I found it via Amazon.co.uk. Thanks!
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on 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. Many of the exterior shots appear to have been done in Zagreb, and we see the cold, blocky architecture of post-war communist architecture in all its sere grandeur - usually at night, which accentuates the severity of the buildings and enhances the cold, alienating weltanschuung that the film projects throughout. Much of the interior, by contrast, is shot in a crumbling mess of rococco ruination, all rotting plaster and decayed cherubs held together by ugly steel stanchions and rusted scaffolding. In his desperate attempts to find a meaning to the nightmare into which he has slid, K is accompanied by a motley crew of erstwhile companions, betrayers and persecutors. Among these are his advocate Hastler (Welles himself), Hastler's mistress (Romy Schneider - once named as the worst actress in the world, though she acquits herself perfectly well here and, as a matter of fact, in everything else I've seen her in), a priest (Michael Lonsdale - probably best known as the French police inspector in "The Day of the Jackal") and, most memorable of all, Bloch, another hapless accusee awaiting a verdict that never comes (played by Akim Tamiroff, a Welles favourite and a cinematic master of sweaty apprehension and terrified servility).
So how is it flawed?
By two small but crucial solecisms, the peas under the mattress of an otherwise marvellous film. Perkins is great at being neurotic, but every now and then he becomes a little too assertive, a litle too 1950's loud-mouthed American, to suit the consistency of his role; for a moment we forget he is K and see something else, something which jarrs the atmosphere of the film and has no place in it.
Then there is Jazz. I am not opposed to Jazz, but here, as in "Touch of Evil", it is used in the soundtrack and, like the raucous American, is out of place, doing irreparable damage to the overall atmosphere, which would have been better served by Bartok, for instance, or even Schoenberg. No more than my opinion, of course, which you may not agree with.

This isn't to say you shouldn't watch it; au contraire, watch it and revell in its undoubted glories. It's a film which has cast a shadow down the years, a shadow which is visible every time you watch "Eraserhead" and "Brazil", or practically any other film which deals with dystopian societies and their irrational inhabitants. But for all that, much of its brilliance undoubtedly derives from happenstance. As usual, Welles was too strapped for cash to finance the film properly, which probably accounts for the night-shoots in Zagreb (and in the then-deserted railway station of Gare d'Orsay in Paris), and for the fact that he does the lip-synching for several of the characters himself, rather than pay the actors to do it. Sometimes necessity really is the mother of invention, and never more so than when you sit down to watch an Orson Welles film. And no bad thing. Try and imagine it in colour...
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on 20 September 2012
Watching this film on Blu ray is a new experience for me. I have only seen it on bad 4:3 public domain copies and have never thought of it in the same regard as "Citizen Kane", "Touch of Evil" or even "Othello". All that has change now. This wonderful HD 16:9 version really highlights the wonderful Welles camera angles and tracking shots which have always gone without notice previously. The image is sharp and detailed. For the first time you can actually see the sweat on Anthony Perkins forhead while he deals with the nightmare he finds himself in. It's not as perfect as some blu ray remasters but it's no disappointment by any measure. Some sync issues still remain but not to the point that it ruins the film. This is truly a great film containing the genius of Orson Welles. Images were his strong point, so blu ray really makes him shine.

Special Features:

Welles, Kafka and The Trial (30 minutes)
This is in French with English subtitles which shows Welles previous films, radio productions and an analysis on "The Trial"

Orson Welles, architect of light (24 minutes)
An interview with Edmond Richard, director of photography of "The Trial" in French with english subtitles.

Tempo Profile (30 minutes)
Interview with Orson Welles from circa 1965. What interview with Welles isn't worth watching! Great for fans.

Interview with Steven Berkoff (13 minutes)
Berkoff discusses Kafka and "The Trial"

Deleted Scene (6 minutes)
This scene with Katina Paxinou was cut by Welles in the final editing. It originally came after the scene where Josef K is talking with his cousin, before he enters his office building. No audio exists, the subtitles that are included were taken from Welles own script.

This is really a film for Orson Welles or Kafka fans, or even people who enjoy films that think outside the box. Thank you to Studio Canal for caring enough to present this film in all it's glory. I can't believe it looked this good in 1962.
One of the elements that contributes heavily to the atmosphere and feeling of the film is the score by Jean Ledrut, using both original music and adaptations of Tomaso Albinoni's stunning and iconic "Adagio in G minor."
I wish a commentary was on it, but I suspect they're either dead or don't speak english. There is no dvd version better than this. Trust me, I've bourght them all. Nothing comes close.
The dvd also contains a booklet on the production. Thank you.
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on 16 March 2016
Excellent film presented well (great picture and sound) with many extras. Recommended.
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on 13 November 2015
genius
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on 15 January 2006
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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on 7 August 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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on 2 August 2014
Arrived quickly,no problems.
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on 19 August 2015
How was it? What was it? It was a mess. I don't think I understood it. Was it a thriller? Was it an allegory? It's like mixing Pop Tarts with caviar.

Also the DVD is incomplete and missing the pin-screen prologue, despite listing it it in the credits.
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