Anthony Perkins may remain best known for his unsettling performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, but two years later he was just as good – if not better – in Orson Welles’ The Trial. Based on the novel by Franz Kafka, the 1962 drama puts Perkins’ unassuming office worker on the titular trial in a Kafkaesque nightmare that holds an ever-prescient mirror up to the judicial system.
The Trial remains most celebrated for its dark and oppressive atmosphere, heightened by the disorienting visuals and unconventional design, to the point that it is even said star Jeanne Moreau suffered a nervous breakdown during filming. These assets of the film are certainly more impactful than ever on StudioCanal’s new 4K disc, which sees The Trial looking absolutely magnificent. This is a stellar restoration that will hopefully introduce many new jurors to the film, while also making the film feel brand new to those who have seen it countless times.
Anthony Perkins’ performance is impeccable, and only goes to show that he was truly one of the finest – and arguably most underrated – actors of his generation. Perkins would later state that working under Welles’ direction gave him his greatest professional pride, and there’s a very real sense he is bringing his absolute all to the opportunity. While Perkins will always be most remembered for that sinister grin in Psycho’s haunting closing moments, his performance here is just as worthy of celebration.
Welles’ response to the film’s divisive response on release was typically self-assured: “”Say what you like”, he said, “but The Trial is the best film I have ever made”. While that remains open to debate when you consider this is the man who gave the world Citizen Kane, there’s certainly a reason for his confidence here – The Trial is a remarkable film that compels, and oozes atmosphere from every frame.
StudioCanal’s new release of The Trial is an absolutely essential addition to any self-respecting film buff’s collection.
THE TRIAL is FULLY RESTORED and RELEASED FOR THE FIRST TIME on 4K UHD, BLU-RAY, DVD and DIGITAL from 21ST NOVEMBER 2022