The Trial by Orson Welles: A Critical Analysis

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  • 1. The Trial (1962) By Ben Bourgon and Caroline Klimek alternative poster by Swoboda @DeviantArtSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 2. Topics of Discussion • Reviews of The Trial • Production • Adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial • Opening Sequence • Women of Josef K • Dream Logic, Surrealism, The Absurd • Mise-en-scene, expressionismSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 3. Mixed reactions “An agonizing experience” - Charles Higham, The Films of Orson Welles (1970) “An astonishing work, and a revelation of the man” – David Thomson, Rosebud (1997) “I’d be lying if I said that watching The Trial was a pleasant experience.” – Sam Woolf “…this film was deeply confusing.” – Adam Cunliffe …the film was an artful rant, exquisitely composed but humourlessly written. – Parker Mott Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 4. Production “But that’s what makes those kind of people great, and you have to love them, because they’ve made hundred of pictures without any money. And here they were, willing to go ahead with me when nobody else was, and I was most grateful to them for that... and gave me absolute freedom from beginning of the picture to final cut.” ~ Orson Welles, (This is Orson Welles, pg. 246)Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 5. Gare d’OrsaySunday, March 25, 2012
  • 6. Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 7. Welles’ Adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The TrialSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 8. Adaptation “Having read The Trial (albeit a while ago), I was very interested going into this film to see how Welles would translate this absurdist story onto film. I personally was very impressed by Welles, and as someone who usually cringes at film adaptations, thought he did a very good job of capturing the confusion of Kafka’s novel. – Lisa AaldersSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 9. Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 10. Opening SequenceSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 11. Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 12. Women in The Trial “There has to be something said about the role of women in this film. They all hold so much power in their ability to render Mr. K helpless in some way. They all talk in such circular ways or sex is involved. They are always on his "case" (figuratively and literally). […]The women play a strange role in his world.” – Avalon McLean-SmitsSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 13. How do you see the role of women within this film? Is this simply a 1960’s male fantasy or is the situation more complex than that?Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 14. The Many Women Of Josef K’s “Life”Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 15. Dream Logic Peter Bogdanovich: I think it is like some terrible dream. Orson Welles: But it isn’t a reproduction of a dream – that’s a very important point to make.’ Peter Bogdanovich: It gives you the feeling of a dream.Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 16. Interpreting Dreams: Condensation and Displacement Condensation: “A dream object stands for several associations and ideas[…]” Displacement: “A dream objects emotional significance is separated from its real object or content and attached to an entirely different one.”Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 17. The Surreal vs. The Absurd “Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.” – Andre Bréton, The Surrealist Manifesto Absurdism, n. A philosophy based on the belief that the universe is irrational and meaningless and that the search for order brings the individual into conflict with the universe” – Merriam-Webster DictionarySunday, March 25, 2012
  • 18. “A symbol hunter’s dream” in The Trial? “It’s full of do-it- yourself stuff. You can make your own symbols, if you want to. But there isn’t a single symbol in it.” – Orson WellesSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 19. Mise-en-scéne “For me, the use of setting was crucial in conveying emotion and meaning. Welles staged the action in either elaborate, lofty spaces or claustrophobic and confined ones, making use of scaffolding, passage ways/halls, oversize doors, etc…” – Katie Squires-ThomsonSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 20. Everyman vs. The MonsterSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 21. Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 22. Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 23. Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 24. Behind BarsSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 25. The Sexual DivideSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 26. World of Men World of WomenSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 27. StyleSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 28. Wide AnglesSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 29. Close-upsSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 30. K’s Apartment Long Take…Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 31. …to paranoia at Titorelli’sSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 32. LightingSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 33. Climactic SequenceSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 34. The Trial or The Third Man?Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 35. The Trial by Orson Welles “I feel the autobiographical quality unfolds in the style, which is perpetually fraught with paranoia and disorientation, very much vis-a-vis Touch of Evil, only The Trial maximizes on the degradative side of the male consciousness. The Trial, therefore, comes off as that film where Welless diary flew open, and his personal secrets disseminated on screen.” – Parker MottSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 36. Is this film consistent with your conception of Welles? Has his full artistic control on this work revealed anything to you about Welles as a filmmaker?Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 37. EndingSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 38. Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 39. Ending Q: Do you see the ending as a mistake? What is its effect within the movie as a whole, does it fit?Sunday, March 25, 2012
  • 40. FinSunday, March 25, 2012
  • 41. Sources • Berthomé, Jean-Pierre and François Thomas. Orson Welles At Work. New York: Phaidon Press Inc., 2006. • Bogdanovich, Peter and Orson Welles. This is Orson Welles. Ed. Jonathan Rosenbaum. New York: Da Capo Press, 1998.! • Modern Film Scripts - The Trial: A Film by Orson Welles. Trans. Nicholas Fry. NEw York: Simon and Schuster, 1970. • Orson Welles: Interviews. Ed. Mark W. Estrin. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2002. • Perspectives on Orson Welles. Ed. Morris Beja. New York: G.K. Hall & Co., 1995. • Prescot Tonguete, Peter. Orson Welles Remembered: Interviews with His Actors, Editors, Cinematographers and Magicians. London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2007. • Rasmussen, Randy. Orson Welles: Six Films Analyzed,, Scene by Scene. London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2006. • Thomson, David. Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles. New York: Vintage, 1997Sunday, March 25, 2012