Last night I watched Le Procès (1962), a.k.a. The Trial, on TV5MONDE. A European (esp. French) production made in the English language. Ironically, the version I watched, was dubbed into French, with English subtitles.
The Trial
A cinematically surreal piece of brilliance, cinematography wise, set design wise, and conceptual wise. Yet the movie does falter at places, insignificant to prod on.
The Trial (62') scene
The movie starts with a ‘Pinscreen’ animation, telling us about a man who is permanently detained from seeking access to the Law, used as an introductory allegory of what is to befall our hero later on in the film.
We see a common man, Josef K (Anthony Perkins), representing the ordinary middle class young male of modern society (early 1960’s), who is woken up one morning by an unidentified man, whom we assume represents the police/the law, telling Mr. K that he is under open arrest. Thus we follow Mr. K who goes to work, tries desperately to find out what he is charged with, tries to prove his innocence, and makes out with the three female love interests. Resulting in a beautiful surreal journey through law & order and blinded justice, equated to heaven and hell. The outside world heavenly, and inside the law – hell!!! Where everyone, acquainted to the protagonist or not, keeps telling him he’s guilty of an unmentioned crime. While he maintains his innocence, adding that he is just an easy target for the law, like any common man. The film is more philosophical, than realistic, yet almost moves in real time. Through his journey from day to night to day, in the same three piece suit, we meet his next door neighbour, Marika Burstner (Jeanne Moreau); a dancer, with whom he has his first make out session; his advocate, Maître Albert Hastler (played by the director of this fascinating film itself, Orson Welles), and Hastler’s nurse/mistress Leni (Romy Schneider); the supporting lead female character of the film, with whom he has his next make out session, and who tries to genuinely help him. Soon we learn that he is actually condemned to death, and he is “guilty until proven innocent”, ironically the exact opposite of what the law should upheld.
Without giving away the ending, the movie ends on the eve of Josef K’s 31st Birthday.
Orson Welles with cast members on the set of 'The Trial'
It’s definitely worth checking out, though not a great movie. Of course film director, Orson Welles, supposedly mentioned after making this movie that, “The Trial is the best film I have ever made.” In one scene of the movie, Welles’ character Hastler mentions that he “doesn’t understand”, a hilarious pun, adding to the confusion of the audience, if the director can’t understand what’s happening to the protagonist, how is audience to do so.
It is visually and philosophically spectacular, could bore down at a few places though. Worth more if you specifically love surreal cinema and for any film buff.
Very Good 8/10
The film is based on the 1914 German novel, Der Prozess by Franz Kafka. A book I haven’t read yet, but after watching this film am really keen on doing so. Le Procès (1962) is a modern adaptation, which introduces the audience to computer technology of the time, also called the Electronic Brain.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense