Saturday, 29 May 2010


Mere seconds after entering a bar in a small German village, a land surveyor known only as K (Ulrich Mühe) is met with disproportionate revulsion. His every move is challenged, and some of the villagers inform him that he is not allowed to be there, despite K’s insistence that he had been appointed to work on the local castle. The next morning, K encounters Arthur and Jeremias, two simple men who have been told to serve as his assistants, but who serve to do little more than annoy. During his uncomfortable sojourn in the village, K receives intermittent communication from Klamm, his unseen employer, who sympathises with his confusion but does little to help. Rather than waking up each morning to work, K finds himself wrapped in more red tape each day, and both Klamm and the castle soon seem like figments of his imagination.

It is hard to imagine a modern director more suited to adapt Franz Kafka’s final work than Michael Haneke, who has made a name for himself creating unsettling psychological dramas. As in Kafka’s book, the threat is intangible but palpable throughout, and Haneke keeps a rhythm to the film with abrupt fades to black. The film is however weakened by a narration which detracts from the cinematic illusion. While a difficult character to portray, K does not feel as in conflict with his surroundings as he does in the book, but Haneke does well to represent his frustrations realistically. Not perfect, but an admirable effort.

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