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The Castle

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Haneke's film of Franz Kafka's The Castle pairs one of the most influential voices in 20th century literature with one of the most visionary filmmakers of the new millennium. Originally broadcast on Austrian television in 1997, Kino offers The Castle on US DVD for the first time. A Film as complex, vivid, and "intriguing"(New York Times) as Orson Welles' The Trial, The Castle is both an ingenious, perversely faithful interpretation of the master of alienation's novel, and a worthy companion to The Piano Teacher, Cache and other films from the darkest leading light of contemporary cinema. A land surveyor identified simply as K is summoned to a remote mountain village by the local government, known as (and housed in) "the castle". Unable to convince underlings of the legitimacy of his position, he tries to take his case to castle officials. But the more K struggles to gain entrance, the most obstructive the village's provincial bureaucracy becomes. As the absurdity of K's circumstances and the depth and intricacy of the castle's hold on the villagers grows, Haneke masterfully evokes Kafka's vision of a dystopian society hobbled by paperwork and bled dry by conformism and convolution. Using an expert cast headed by Haneke regulars Ulrich Muhe (The Lives Of Others, Funny Games) and Susanne Lothar (The Piano Teacher), and beautifully austere, Rembrandt like visuals, Haneke transforms Kafka's unfinished novel into a potent, enigmatic, and complete film experience that is truly Kafkaesque.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ulrich Muhe
  • Directors: Michael Haneke
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Kino International
  • DVD Release Date: August 21, 2007
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,460 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By William Shriver on August 31, 2007
Format: DVD
I can't speak for the wisdom of remaking FUNNY GAMES for an American audience, but that aside, Michael Haneke's films since THE PIANO TEACHER have steadily shown more daring. Haneke has attained the stature of a Welles: all of his work deserves to be seen, even his lesser work. Thanks to Kino, that is now almost completely achievable on home video.

THE CASTLE, made for Austrian TV, looks like a lot of European TV. It is shot in a much more conventional style than other Haneke films: more cross-cutting, shorter takes, more close-ups. It not only fails to give us the spatial sense of the novel, it can hardly be said to be production designed at all. Mostly, it is shot against nondescript backdrops.

Despite these constraints, THE CASTLE is an entertaining extract of Kafka's novel. It is wholly a Michael Haneke movie, while still spotlighting some aspects of Kafka that can easily get lost in the dense overgrowth of the author's prose. Among these things is the fact that Kafka, as we know from his diaries, was a fan of Chaplin. Ulrich Mühe, too old and too Gentile to be the K. of the novel, nevertheless captures the put-upon Everyman at the heart of the character. The Chaplinesque nature of K., as it turns out, was right there in the novel all along. The same goes with Dickens/Kafka connection. Simply by allowing supporting actors to show a bit of ham, Haneke keeps the proceedings lively and colorful in a way previously camouflaged by Kafka's style.

As a personal film by Haneke, everything remotely evoking psychological states or tending toward metaphor has been surgically removed. We never see the castle.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Gomez Pardo HALL OF FAME on August 18, 2013
Format: DVD
Kakfa has been brought to the big screen -at least as I know- in three oportunitties. Orson Welles (The process), Haneke (The castle) and Valerie Fokin in 2006 with The Methamorphosis.

Haneke recreates the oppressive atmosphere of a man inside a struggling world of rules, bureaucracy and existential isolation with a steady narrative pulse, with the snow and cold as silent witnesses.

If you are not acquainted with Kafka, then please refrain to watch it. Because Haneke's personages are always at the border of desperation.

Good cast in plain shape.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By W. T. Hoffman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 3, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Kafka has always been one of my favorite authors. Up until now, i've only been able to view THE TRIAL by Orsen Wells, (a masterpiece), and KAFKA by Soderbergh (not a masterpiece.) THE CASTLE isnt as profound as Orsen Wells THE TRIAL, nor is it the strange metaphorical film that Soderburgh's film "KAFKA" is. Haneke's THE CASTLE falls somewhere in the middle of the two, leaning towards THE TRIAL, if only because it follows so closely Kafka's book. Haneke filmed this right after he made his (german version of) FUNNY GAMES, and used the same cast, as in FUNNY GAMES. K. is played by Ulrich Muhe, who not only played the father in FUNNY GAMES, but also starred as the Stazi officer in the recent hit THE LIVES OF OTEHRS. The mother from FUNNY GAMES plays FRIEDA, plus the two idiot assistances, are played by the two psychos from FUNNY GAMES. The actors had already achieved a strong working relationship with each other, and it shows in their strong ensemble acting in this film. Never for a moment, do you ask yourself, if these people are behaving artificially, or strangely, at least within the framework of the Castle's townspeople, who do things "differently around here." THE CASTLE is a comedy of course, a very dark comedy. Kafka would laugh while he would read passages aloud to his friends. Its a great credit to Haneke's direction, and his adaptation of the script from Kafka's book, that he caught this strange deadpan humor, and kept it intact. I admired this achievement, something that even Well's THE TRIAL was not really able to do.

The setting isnt the 1920s, as is the book, but rather modern day Austria. Utilizing modern clothing and sets, the backward, distopian Shangra-la cage of the town, which IS the Castle, is captured thru the art direction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harry O on March 26, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Land surveyor K is summoned by "The Castle" to an unnamed town, ostensibly to do some surveying, but he is prevented from doing so by a multitude of petty, albeit insurmountable, obstacles erected by a seemingly indifferent bureaucracy. Director MIchael Haneke does a fine job of adapting Franz Kafka's unfinished "fragment" (some viewers are going to be put off by the fact that the film ends literally in mid-sentence) to the screen. The problem lies, however, in the fact that Kafka's paranoid surrealism is better suited to the printed page and the reader's own imagination than to a literal rendering on the film screen. The fact that a good part of the film's exposition is spoken by an off-screen narrator only serves to underline this. Still, this is definitely worthwhile for those viewers interested in screen adaptations literary masterpieces, and those viewers who are simply interested in occasionally viewing films that are quite different from run-of-the-mill film entertainment.
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