Thursday, September 6, 2007

Franz Kafka's The Castle

Posted on Thu, Sep 6, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Franz Kafka's The Castle
Studio: Kino
WorkNameSort: Franz Kafka's The Castle
Michael Haneke's vision of Kafka's unfinished tome may be one of the purest literary adaptations ever filmed. Haneke is such a slave to the source material that the result is an almost anti-visual exercise in book-to-screen translation. Rarely does a dialogue-free scene go by without voice-over narration reciting passages from the book, even when the images tell us clearly what's going on. The long takes and lack of shot variety only bring more attention to the deadpan absurdist drama about a land surveyor (Ulrich Mühe, seen recently in The Lives of Others) who arrives in a village to do his job, only to be stifled by the town's endless bureaucracy. Frequent cuts to black, which at first appear arbitrary, begin to take on the semblance of chapter breaks, and the film even ends in mid-sentence, just as the book does. Haneke and Kafka may be a match made in existentialist heaven, but the result isn't particularly entertaining. The Castle, does, however, prompt the question 'Why bother filming it?� when so little cinematic utility is employed, thereby implicitly critiquing the very nature of screen adaptations.


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