The Trial [StudioCanal Collection][UK] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit), French & German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, German
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: B (Region-Locked)
- Certification: PG
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: StudioCanal
- Blu-ray Release Date: September 10, 2012
- RRP: £24.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(All Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Auteur Orson Welles’ (Citizen Kane; Touch of Evil) was well established by the time he filmed this 1963 adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial (Le procès). Even if he wasn’t exactly known for his tightly woven stories, he was definitely known for his keen eye and groundbreaking technical achievements in film. With The Trial, Welles continued that tradition by, along with cinematographer Edmund Richard, creating a stark, bleak, black and white vision that transformed the dilapidated Gare D’Orsay of Paris into a dark, looming, post-industrial nowhere-land within which the titular “trial” of the film’s protagonist, Joseph K (Anthony Perkins; Psycho) would take place.
Draped in long, black shadows and highlighted by blown out whites with angular camera shots, the story follows a man in a nameless country, Joseph K, who is accused of a crime of which he is not told and then put on trial. Josep K must navigate his way through an increasingly intricate and sadistic bureaucracy to defend his innocence, of which we, the viewers, are never quite sure of. Along the way, he becomes involved with three rather salacious women, Marika, Leni, and Hilda (Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Elsa Martinelli), who only serve to complicate his journey further and drive him deeper into the depths of what becomes a bottomless hell of bureaucracies, intimidation, and corruption.
Just several years after the height of McCarthyism and right in the midst of the Cold War, The Trial is absolutely dripping with paranoia and suspicions of all things government related. Even as its narrative veers off onto wildly untraceable tangents, it is rescued by the brilliance of its visual style at every turn that help to reel it back in, keeping it well grounded in the world of an obvious Welles-ian psychological drama that is a course in stylistic filmmaking.
This 1.66:1-framed AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from StudioCanal has great contrast, with deep blacks and hot whites, just as Welles and Richard intended. The source looks spotless, with only the odd scratch here or there. The problem I have with the entire transfer is that, for a film from 1963, it just looks to have been scrubbed a bit too clean. At times, the grain, what little there is, on backgrounds looks rather indistinct, as does the detail on skin. Average people probably won’t have any issues with this at all, but to me, it doesn’t look authentic.
Despite what is some obvious drifting in the audio synch, The Trial‘s English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) monaural soundtrack sounds really good, with little issues concerning crackle, hiss, or pop. The audio is intelligible and sounds natural most of the time.
In typical fashion, StudioCanal provides a strong slate of featurettes and documentaries to go along with the film that are both informative and interesting, offering up numerous experts and colleagues of Welles’.
- Welles, Kafka, and The Trial (1.78:1; SD/PAL; 00:30:26) – A brief bio on Welles and the making of the Trial.
- Welles, Architect of Light (SD/PAL; 00:23:21) – Interview with Edmond Richard, Director of Photography for The Trial.
- Tempo Profile: Orson Welles (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:30:26)
- Interview with Steven Berkoff (1.78:1; SD/PAL; 00:12:51)
- Deleted Scene (1.66:1; 1080i/50; 00:06:40)
- Trailer (1.66:1; 1080i/50)
- Booklet: Essay on the film by Jonathan Rosenbaum, film critic and author of Discovering Orson Welles (2007), the editor of This is Orson Welles (1998) and consultant on the 1998 re-edit of Touch of Evil.
The Definitive Word
StudioCanal do it again and pull out a film that needs discovery, or rediscovery, by a wider audience. While The Trial may not, in fact, be the greatest film Welles ever made, as he believed at the time, it is certainly well worth watching, if only for the stunning camera work and lighting, and brilliant performance from Anthony Perkins.
Additional Screen Captures