The Trial

The effect of nightmare is muted in this Pinter-scripted version of Kafka's classic. MacLachlan would seem appropriately cast as the much put-upon minor bank official, but as soon as he's arrested problems arise. His variable English accent and declamatory style militate against audience identification essential to this dystopian chronicle, creating a hollowness at the film's core from which it never really recovers. A cavalcade of top British thesps do, however, come up with the goods (Hopkins' oppressive priest, Stevenson as K's enigmatic neighbour). The film pits an incredulous, almost self-righteous individual against the absurdist machinations of an institutionalised (in)justice system gone mad, and grounds events in authentic Prague locations and 1912 period detail, yet the result boxes in the parameters of Kafka's imagination. Unlike Welles' dizzying city of the imagination, Jones' faithful run-through doesn't quite conjure up the keynote of pervasive unease.

Release details

Duration: 120 mins

Cast and crew

Director: David Jones
Screenwriter: Harold Pinter
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan
Anthony Hopkins
Jason Robards
Juliet Stevenson
Polly Walker
Alfred Molina
David Thewlis
Tony Haygarth
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