Review: ‘The Trial’

The Trial is just that. Despite a fine cast, superior Prague locations and a faithful Harold Pinter screenplay, this second film adaptation of Kafka's landmark 1913 novel is dull, lifeless and strictly TV-bound in its aesthetics.

The Trial is just that. Despite a fine cast, superior Prague locations and a faithful Harold Pinter screenplay, this second film adaptation of Kafka’s landmark 1913 novel is dull, lifeless and strictly TV-bound in its aesthetics.

Up against the brick wall of an authoritarian regime and an unknowable Law, K (Kyle MacLachlan) has experiences that are positively illogicial and evocative of modern man’s absurd status in the universe.

There are sexual skirmishes with another boarder (Juliet Stevenson) and his lawyer’s mistress (Polly Walker), encounters with various men who possess passing knowledge of aspects of the Law (uncle Robert Lang, attorney Jason Robards, court painter Alfred Molina) and assorted odd characters, such as a washerwoman (Catherine Neilson) who submits sexually to her detested boyfriend in front of hundreds of people at K’s hearing.

But, as structured, the script evolves as a tedious series of mostly two-character scenes. Performances are perfectly acceptable without being at all electrifying.

The Trial

UK

Production

BBC/Europanda. Director David Jones; Producer Louis Marks; Screenplay Harold Pinter; Camera Phil Meheux; Editor John Stothart; Music Carl Davis; Art Director Don Taylor

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1993. Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Kyle MacLachlan Anthony Hopkins Jason Robards Jean Stapleton Polly Walker Juliet Stevenson
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