The Trial (1962 film)  

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“Everyone strives to attain the Law,' answers the man, 'how does it come about, then, that in all these years no one has come seeking admittance but me?' The doorkeeper perceives that the man is nearing his end and his hearing is failing, so he bellows in his ear: 'No one but you could gain admittance through this door, since this door was intended for you. I am now going to shut it.”

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Trial is a 1962 film directed by Orson Welles, who also wrote the screenplay based on the novel of the same name by Franz Kafka. Welles stated immediately after completing the film: "The Trial is the best film I have ever made." The film begins with Welles narrating Kafka's parable "Before the Law" to pinscreen scenes created by the artist Alexandre Alexeieff. Anthony Perkins stars as Josef K., a bureaucrat who is accused of a never-specified crime, and Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, and Elsa Martinelli play women who become involved in various ways in Josef's trial and life. Welles plays the Advocate, Josef's lawyer and the film's principal antagonist. The Trial was filmed in Europe and has been praised for its creative set designs and cinematography, especially Welles's uses of unique angles and focus.

Plot

Josef K. (Anthony Perkins) is sleeping in his bedroom, in an apartment he shares with other lodgers. He is awakened when a man in a suit opens his bedroom door. Josef assumes the glib man is a policeman, but the intruder does not identify himself and ignores Josef's demand to produce police ID. Several detectives enter and tell Josef he is under open arrest. In another room Josef K. sees three co-workers from his place of employment; they are there to provide evidence regarding some unstated crime. The police refuse to inform Josef K. of his misdeeds, or if he is even being charged with a crime, and they do not take him into custody.

After the detectives leave, Josef converses with his landlady, Mrs. Grubach (Madeleine Robinson), and neighbor, Miss Burstner (Jeanne Moreau), about the strange visit. Later he goes to his office, where his supervisor thinks he has been having improper relations with his teenaged female cousin. That evening, Josef attends the opera, but is abducted from the theater by a police inspector (Arnoldo Foà) and brought to a courtroom, where he attempts in vain to confront the still-unstated case against him.

Josef returns to his office and discovers the two police officers who first visited him being whipped in a small room. Josef’s uncle Max suggests that Josef consult with Hastler (Orson Welles), a law advocate. After brief encounters with the wife of a courtroom guard (Elsa Martinelli) and a roomful of condemned men awaiting trial, Josef is granted an interview with Hastler, which proves unsatisfactory.

Hastler’s mistress (Romy Schneider) suggests that Josef seek the advice of the artist Titorelli (William Chappell), but this also proves unhelpful. Seeking refuge in a cathedral, Josef learns from a priest (Michael Lonsdale) that he has been condemned to death. Hastler abruptly appears at the cathedral to confirm the priest’s assertion.

On the evening before his thirty-first birthday, Josef is apprehended by two executioners and brought to a quarry pit, where he is forced to remove some of his clothing. The executioners pass a knife back and forth, apparently deliberating on who will do the deed, before handing the knife to the condemned man, who refuses to commit suicide. The executioners leave Josef in the quarry and toss dynamite in the pit. Josef laughs at his executioners and picks up the dynamite. From a distance there is an explosion and smoke billows into the air.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Trial (1962 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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