Le Procès (The Trial) 1962

The Trial

Critics Consensus

Orson Welles may take big liberties in his adaptation of The Trial, but the auteur constructs an absurd nightmare that is unmistakably Kafkaesque -- grounded by an excellent Anthony Perkins as the befuddled Josef K.

83%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 36

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,774
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Movie Info

When police officers arrive at his home to tell him that he's under "open arrest," unassuming bureaucrat Josef K. (Anthony Perkins) can't imagine what kind of crime he might have committed. He consults first his neighbor (Jeanne Moreau) about the incident, then the courts, then a pompous law advocate (Orson Welles), all to no avail. Ironically, Joseph is able to learn of his sentence -- he is to be put to death -- but the nature of the charge against him remains elusive.

Cast & Crew

Jeanne Moreau
Miss Burstner
Orson Welles
Albert Hastler (The Advocate)
Arnoldo Foà
Inspector A
Billy Kearns
First Assistant Inspector
Jess Hahn
Second Assistant Inspector
Suzanne Flon
Miss Pittl
Orson Welles
Writer (Screenplay)
Franz Kafka
Writer (Novel)
Jean Ledrut
Original Music
Edmond Richard
Cinematographer
Orson Welles
Film Editor
Jean Mandaroux
Art Direction
Show all Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Le Procès (The Trial)

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (6)

  • Perkins gives one of the best performances of his career in The Trial, aided by an outstanding array of stellar players.

    February 20, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Who better to reveal the system's evil genius than Welles, the golden boy turned Hollywood martyr?

    August 28, 2017 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    April 6, 2007 | Full Review…
  • The blackest of Welles' comedies.

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    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.

    May 10, 2005 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The Trial is splendid to look at and teeming with ideas about the individual, society, and of course, film itself.

    October 30, 2002

Audience Reviews for Le Procès (The Trial)

  • Sep 22, 2014
    This fascinating existential nightmare is less Kafkaesque and more Wellesian, expanding physical spaces to amplify the character's feeling of smallness and impotence before a crushing judicial system and not focusing so much on the cynical gibe found in Kafka's novel.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • May 02, 2014
    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 W Super Reviewer
  • May 17, 2013
    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
  • Feb 12, 2013
    Orson Welles, The Trial, is not at all a court room drama. It's a twisted dream like piece, in a poetic format. A film that's always on track, but that never makes sense. It's a study of human nature and us as a society. My favorite scene is when the protagonist Joseph, is being interrogated and asked almost as it it's obvious if he's victim of society. He responds in his highest form of confidence "I am a member of society". I think this isn't said at all anymore, everyone must be an individual and no one ever admits of being a contributing member of society. The basic outline of the story is Joseph is "arrested" with not charge, he then goes through an insane legal process. Comparable to the U.S. justice system in a way. This is my second favorite Orson Welles piece, after Touch Of Evil. The director believed this was his most accomplished film despite the critics early hatred. I could certianly see why this would be viewed as his strongest. In adapting Franz Kafka, it always feels made for cinema. He once again uses shadows and beautiful cinematic shots. With bizarre imagery of elderly waiting for a court ruling that'' never come, or a group of what we can assume are prisoners standing in the cold with nothing but rags. I can't complain to say understood all the metaphors, but I connected with the drift of ideas. Oliver who's played by Anthony Peck, still has Norman Bates characteristics. The queer like awkward man always feels nervous and uncomfortable. He strokes his hands along walls when he walks, and runs away from an awkward situation. He starts standing up for himself later on but is always much so of a coward. He critiques the others who are hopelessly waiting for there court result shouting "you don't see me doing it" while sub consciously trapping himself. A scene that demonstrates a kind of serfdom to the lawyers, is when we see a elderly pathetic man pleading to his. On his knees and kissing his hands only to be shunned away. Oliver looks in disgust and pity, but the man will do anything to here a word about his case. It's a disturbing scene and the one that can describe the movie the best, other than prologue. In conclusion this film is mesmerizing. It's a nightmare, with no true logic, but actual ideas. Similar to Kubricks, Eyes Wide Shut, an exposure to the inside of the system. Orson Welles narrates the closing credits, almost as a dog pees on his land, I think this his way of separating from the Kafka novel and claiming as a personal piece.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer

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