Early open concept workplace. Nightmare both then and now.
Welles and The Trial
Orson Welles’s 1962 film, The Trial, was his own loose adaptation of Franz Kafka’s German language novel from 1925. It has been justly celebrated by critics and Welles aficionados as one of his finest achievements, and is one of the few projects that he retained control of through the finished product. It is a masterwork of direction, writing, set design, and acting, but is sadly not known as well as many of his other works, probably due to the lack of a proper home video release in the US.* The film will somewhat resist interpretation, because as the narrator (Welles) famously says at the conclusion of the introduction: “It has been said that the logic of this story is the logic of a dream, of a nightmare.” Which is to say, no logic at all.
“It was a pleasure to burn.”
With those words, Ray Bradbury opens his 1953 novel, which still startles with the wisdom of its warnings over a half-century later.
François Truffaut adapted Bradbury’s novel into a film in 1966. The novel and film are centered around the story of Montag, in an unspecified future time where firemen are called to burn books, and their dangerous ideas, rather than put out fires.
Orson Welles’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a fascinating and partially successful experiment in translating the play from stage to film. Welles of course had a background in both theater and radio, and the legacy of both of those realms of experience is evident in his ambitious adaptation. What follows are some notes on my first viewing of the film, along with some insights drawn from Peter Bogdanovich’s interview book This is Orson Welles (edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum, 1992), and from the invaluable Wellesnet.
One of the greatest fictional characters created in the 20th century is Doctor Stephen Maturin, half of the celebrated Aubrey-Maturin duo that are the subjects of a 20-volume series of novels by the late Patrick O’Brian. The series began with the 1970 novel Master and Commander, and was to be continued in a 21st volume which was in the draft stages at the time of O’Brian’s death in 2000. The books follow the career and life of “Lucky Jack” Aubrey, a Captain in His Majesty’s Royal Navy, and his close friend, Maturin, during the time of the Napoleonic Wars, from roughly 1800 – 1815.