The Trial  (DVD)
THE TRIAL is Orson Welles's claustrophobic adaptation of Franz Kafka's surreal tale of fear and paranoia in a nameless society. Tinged with background jazz, filmed in shadowy black and white--mostly with direct light--THE TRIAL looks like a classic film noir, with angled close-ups and characters shrouded in mystery. Anthony Perkins stars as Josef K., a seemingly innocent young man who is arrested one morning for an unexplained crime by men who refuse to identify themselves. K., asserting his innocence, sets off on a bizarre series of confrontations with shady government agents, overwhelming faceless courtrooms, and pompous advocates who talk in riddles. His nightmare continues through narrow, dark passageways and colourless rooms where he witnesses various forms of torture and interrogation; some of what he comes upon has echoes of the Nazis and the Holocaust. And nearly everywhere he goes he stumbles over wads of paperwork (the kind that ultimately swallowed up Tuttle in Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL, a fascinating descendant of THE TRIAL). Perkins is wonderfully paranoid as he wanders aimlessly through the labyrinthine sets, which always seem to be closing in on him. THE TRIAL is an eerie nightmare of a film, one of which writer-director and co-star Orson Welles was justifiably proud.