Archive for The Trial

The Oz Trial

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2010 by dcairns

Before the law, there stands a guard.

A man comes from the country, begging admittance to the law.

But the guard cannot admit him. May he hope to enter at a later time? “That is possible,” says the guard.

The man tries to peer through the entrance. He’d been taught that the law was to be accessible to every man. “Do not attempt to enter without my permission”, says the guard. “I am very powerful. Yet I am the least of all the guards. From hall to hall, door after door, each guard is more powerful than the last.”

By the guard’s permission, the man sits by the side of the door, and there he waits. For years, he waits. Everything he has, he gives away in the hope of bribing the guard, who never fails to say to him “I take what you give me only so that you will not feel that you left something undone.”

Keeping his watch during the long years, the man has come to know even the fleas on the guard’s fur collar. Growing childish in old age, he begs the fleas to persuade the guard to change his mind and allow him to enter. His sight has dimmed, but in the darkness he perceives a radiance streaming immortally from the door of the law.

And now, before he dies, all he’s experienced condenses into one question, a question he’s never asked. He beckons the guard. Says the guard, “You are insatiable! What is it now?” Says the man, “Every man strives to attain the law. How is it then that in all these years, no one else has ever come here, seeking admittance?”

His hearing has failed, so the guard yells into his ear. “Nobody else but you could ever have obtained admittance. No one else could enter this door! This door was intended only for you! And now, I’m going to close it.”

This tale is told during the story called “The Trial”. It’s been said that the logic of this story is the logic of a dream… a nightmare.

Possibly my slightly strange combining of story and image here was suggested by AFTER HOURS, in which both THE TRIAL and THE WIZARD OF OZ are explicitly referenced, suggesting that screenwriter Joseph Minion (and whatever became of him?) should perhaps use as his pseudonym the catchy “L. Frank Kafka.”

(I’m not yet back online, but I had this post ready to go. See you soon!)

Communist filth!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on August 23, 2008 by dcairns

What gets me about this simple, banal, but rather topical parable, is how Orson Welles’ reading gives it the gravitas of the little story that begins his film of THE TRIAL. And the way it’s all targeted at one era, but ends up rebounding through time and hitting our own, makes me want to cry.

Some kind of a man.

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on May 6, 2008 by dcairns

The Magician

It’s Orson Welles’ birthday! I guess it’s safe to mention since he’s already dead, and the CURSE OF SHADOWPLAY cannot harm him.

Anyway, whatever bad juju may be associated with me, Welles’ VOODOO CURSE probably outranks it. (A Brazilian witch doctor jinxed Welles’ film project IT’S ALL TRUE by plunging a dagger through the screenplay, decorated with a black feather. With Welles, the impossible stories turn out to be true, it’s the plausible ones you must watch out for.)

The Birds

“I don’t want any description of me to be accurate. I want it to be flattering. I don’t think people who have to sing for their supper ever like to be described truthfully — not in print anyway.”

Orson Welles — thin, young and alive.

It has been TOO LONG since I actually watched a Welles film through. I’m hoping that the Edinburgh Film Festival’s Jeanne Moreau season will feature some or all of her work with O.W. I haven’t seen THE IMMORTAL STORY or CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT on the big screen, ever. And I love THE TRIAL more than even most hardcore Wellesians. The programme is launched tomorrow, so I’ll be able to tell you for sure then.


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