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The Trial (Le Procès) (1962)

The Trial (Le Procès). Feature film. (1962, 116 mins) IMDB

...A serious film...

M

aybe I haven't seen enough movies to truly appreciate this film--at least the narrative, not the film composition. As I watched the film I was frustrated by the set-up. It lacked specifics, but maybe that's the point. There are no specifics about what is accused of, but the lack of specifics made it seem more like a game than a serious threat.

Consider THE WRONG MAN--a 1956 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Peter Fonda as a family man who is wrongly accused of a series of robberies. In that film we clearly emphasize with the plight of Fonda's character because it's specific and real. We see him in jail, we see his accusers, we see the biased jurors. In short, we see a man in an impossible situation. In THE TRIAL, Perkins is arrested, but never taken to a jail or police station. He's free to wander around the city.

I never once related to his quest to free himself of these accusations--unknown to him and us. Perhaps that's the point. The absurdity of the system. I don't know.

The film is shot in what looks like Eastern Europe and perhaps the system in the film is a totalitarian government. Just a guess.

I suppose readers of Kafka's book, upon which the film is based, would bring a better appreciation of the narrative.

There were moments that in the film that reminded me of CITIZEN CANE. In the bedroom scene at the start of the film, characters are in foreground and background and both in focus. That's the famous deep focus of CANE.

I didn't like the fact the dialogue of the characters, other than Perkins, was at time mumbled and hard to hear. The audio could have been improved, or at least add English subtitles, that way we can read what was said.

Another film it reminded me of was THE THIRD MAN. Orson Welles starred in it, but didn't direct. Vienna of THE THIRD MAN was filled with bombed out buildings, rubble pilled around. While we don't see pilled rubble in this film, the buildings (factories, apartments) look as if they had been bombed at one point. There is a brief chase through an underground tunnel. There are the shadows of a man running down a street at night. I would guess Welles stole those ideas from THE THIRD MAN.

The film has many interesting visualizes. The set design and production design are unique and could studied at length. The lighting and cameras shots are equally provocative and different, but all these important elements don't matter if you're not interested in the story.

It was a much different film than I had imagined.

Posted 2009/02/23 at 20h11ET in Movie Commentary.

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