Feb 4, 2008

The Trial


Orson Welles’ film adaptation of Franz Kalfka’s The Trial is one of cinematic expression. I would even argue that the film is Welles' most expressive. I found myself more engulfed by the set design than the films unconventional plot. Anthony Perkins stars as the victim protagonist of The Trial. A man that is guilty of a crime he hasn’t committed. No one will tell the man what crime he is guilty of.

One theory of Kalfka’s intent with the book was that of Jewish identity. As a Jew, Kalfka felt the victim of constant judgment and social abstraction. The Trial most certainly gives off that that feeling. Anthony Perkin’s character is always on the defense and paranoid to his judgmental accusers. To such an extreme degree that he literally explodes.


To make The Trial even more eerie and haunting, it was filmed in post world war II Europe(Paris mainly). Producing the film after second world war makes the film more appropriate then when it first was published 40 years before. It is interesting to consider whether or not Kalfka had predicted the future. Nonetheless, the film was time appropriately released.

The Trial was one of few films that Orson Welles had full control over(aside from Citizen Kane). I think this is quite obvious watching the film as it does not cater to the lowest common denominator. The set design and dark aesthetics of The Trial are very overwhelming to say the least. A court room full of hundreds of vocal accusers, aggressive police at every hidden corner, and the unknown lurking in every shadow effectively traps the viewer. Orson Welles knew what he wanted to do with the film.


The Trial is a film that requires and deserves multiple viewings. It is condensed with many of Orson Welles’ signature cinematic techniques. It is a shame that Orson Welles was unable to acquire funds to that would have enable him to keep continuing his auteur vision. The Trial is a must view for serious fans of film.

"Say what you will, but The Trial is the best film I have ever made." — Orson Welles


-Ty E

1 comment:

the days of wine and roses said...

welles was right "the trial" is his supreme masterwork, of that there can be no question.