Le Procès (The Trial) (1962)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Much of Orson Welles' latter-day reputation as an "unfathomable" genius rests upon his seeming unwillingness to tell a story in clear, precise fashion. Sometimes, as in such films as Touch of Evil, Welles' spotty storytelling skills can be forgiven in the light of the excellent visuals. In other cases, as in his 1962 adaptation of Kafka's The Trial, Welles'style comes across as empty virtuosity, precious and petulant when it should be profound. Anthony Perkins plays Joseph K, a man condemned for … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Mystery & Suspense, Classics, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Orson Welles
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 7, 2006
Gibraltar Films


as Hastler advocate, Ha...

as Josef K.

as Miss Burstner

as Inspector A

as 1st Assistant Inspec...

as 2nd Assistant Inspec...

as Miss Pittl

as Mrs. Grubach

as Courtroom Guard

as Bert, the Law Stude...

as Uncle Max

as Chief Clerk

as Deputy Manager

as Examining Magistrate

as 1st Policeman

as 2nd Policeman

as Man in Leather

as First Assistant Insp...
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Le Procès (The Trial)

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (6)

Though debatable as an adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel, Orson Welles's nightmarish, labyrinthine comedy of 1962 remains his creepiest and most disturbing work; it's also a lot more influential than people usually admit.

Full Review… | April 6, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The blackest of Welles' comedies.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

At best, it is another demonstration of the camera vers atility of Mr. Welles; at worse, a further Kafka demonstration extending to the demanding medium of the screen.

Full Review… | May 10, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

The Trial is splendid to look at and teeming with ideas about the individual, society, and of course, film itself.

Full Review… | October 30, 2002
Village Voice
Top Critic

The more Joseph tries to understand, the more impenetrable it becomes.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Above all a visual achievement, an exuberant use of camera placement and movement and inventive lighting.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Le Procès (The Trial)

This fascinating existential nightmare is actually less Kafkaesque and more Wellesian, expanding the physical spaces to amplify the character's feeling of smallness and impotence before such crushing judicial system, and not focusing so much on the cynical gibe found in Kafka's novel.

Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Hastler: To be in chains is sometimes safer than to be free.

I believed after reading Franz Kafka's The Trial, that filming a story such as this would be next to impossible, and after watching Orson Welles attempt, I see that this belief was justified. Welles may have done as good a job as possible at trying to bring an unfinished and surreal story such as The Trial to screen. However, it doesn't mean that the film is a success.

Joseph K. works at a bank and is disturbed to find out that he is under arrest when two guards arrive at his room in the early morning. He isn't taken anywhere though, because they don't want to interfere with his personal, job life. They'll work the investigation around his schedule. When he asks what he is under arrest for, no one tells him. He's as confused by all this as the reader of the story, or in this case, the audience of the film is.

I really enjoyed the book, but it's one of those stories that is pretty much impossible to grasp, especially being unfinished. Welles changes aspects of the book and leaves out some important elements of the book altogether. It just goes to show how challenging an exercise it would be to make a film adaption of The Trial, especially when someone like Orson Welles can't really do it justice.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer


Orson Welles' adaptation of Franz Kafka's absurdist story wherein Joseph K wakes up one day and finds he's being arrested, but no one will tell him what the charge is. Deeply layered, THE TRIAL is simultaneously an absurdist parody of legal bureaucracy, a prophetic warning of rising totalitarianism, and an existential allegory about a word whose Creator has condemned everyone to death. Welles proves the right man for the job, turning Kafka's labyrinths into a maze of shadows and light.

Greg S

Super Reviewer

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