December 15th, 2007
I watched two movies about Franz Kafka. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, both of them were quite bad.
The Trial (1962)
Directed by Orson Welles, starring Anthony Perkins (Psycho) as Josef K.
I have a dark secret. I didn’t like Citizen Kane and I don’t get it about Orson Welles. I don’t think this emperor has any clothes on.
That being said, his adaptation of Kafka’s “The Trial” is a silly thing, self-consciously ‘avant-garde’, all tricks and no heart. On top of all that, it features Welles himself in a pompous acting turn, and it’s tinged with sexuality in a way that the real Kafka just isn’t.
This movie is all ego, and it’s boring. I couldn’t sit through it. Don’t watch it! Or if you do, don’t blame me.
This one was directed by Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven), and it stars Jeremy Irons as Kafka himself.
Like the real writer, Kafka works for the state insurance company by day and writes stories by night. He has just completed one about a man who turns into a giant bug. Looming over his Czech town is an ominous castle.
So far so good. Shot in black and white, it is suitably gloomy and atmospheric. But at some point it turns into first a political thriller, complete with a femme fatale and old-time bomb-throwing anarchists, and then a Gothic horror flick involving diabolical brain surgery - the true secret of the castle. Give me a break!
Don’t bother with this movie.