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The Trial
(Le Procès)

Screening on Film
Directed by Orson Welles.
With Anthony Perkins, Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau.
France/Italy/West Germany, 1962, 35mm, black & white, 120 min.
Print source: HFA

Hailed upon its release as a masterpiece by European critics but dismissed as a failure by the British and American press, The Trial is arguably Welles’s finest film after Citizen Kane (and with Kane, the only other film over which he exercised complete creative control). Welles’s rendition of Franz Kafka’s nightmarish story of a man arrested for a crime that is never explained to him is entirely faithful to the novel, even with the necessary transpositions made to update the action. Anthony Perkins portrays Josef K., a sensitive, "twitchy" individual pursued by a repressive bureaucracy, obsessed by an undefined guilt, and bewildered by the burden of living. Much of the action was filmed in the vast, fantastic setting of the then-disused Gare d’Orsay in Paris, which Welles turns into a kind of antechamber of Hell. Replete with unforgettably baroque, expressionistic imagery, The Trial evokes a caustic vision of the modern world, where implausible events seem like everyday occurrences.

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