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
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
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
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.
Copyright © 1994 Steve Rhodes