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The_Trial

I know people talk highly of Orson Welles’ The Trial but this film is a real mess. I think a lot of the praise comes from the combination of Kafka and Welles–like peanut butter and jelly these are two tastes that taste great together!. But I think there’s a good bit of projection here as this film doesn’t hold together at all. The script has some pretty significant problems. The scene with the painter is supposed to project claustrophobia, but while people defend it as a nightmarish sequence, and maybe it is, it’s not at all clear why it in fact makes K. freak out. It’s not that I can’t believe a character careening from arrogant privilege to hysterical panic, but I don’t think the film really does enough work to help us understand K’s psychology. To use a contemporary example, Mad Men does a very good job showing how swagger can often cover up for terror through the character of Don Draper, but it seems more assumed here, which I don’t think is very often a good idea. Welles more interprets Kafka than follows it closely and that’s fine. And Anthony Perkins is pretty good in the role. Welles’ direction is sometimes on good display here, especially the cinematography. Not sure what I think of the jazz soundtrack since this story is not exactly “jazzy” nor does K. seem like the kind of person would who care about jazz. Probably not the best choice. Welles himself called it his best film. So I don’t know, maybe I am a heathen. But the relationships between Perkins and the women (including Romy Schneider and Jeanne Moreau) who increasingly throw themselves at him make little sense. But all of this is just beating around the bush to a problem I have trouble articulating, which is that at its core, there is just no life to this film. And so despite the technical brilliance of the film and some good acting, I just don’t like it very much.

4/10

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