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It is the greatest book to film adaptation I have ever seen.
This is one of the great films of the 20th century. It is extraordinary and inspiring. It is simple, clear and to the point - it is also transcendent.
The film is based on Kafka's unfinished novel "Amerika". It was shot in Europe which is appropriate since Kafka never visited America and the novel is not about the real United States but it is rather a kind of allegory. Straub and Huillet's version is indeed about class relations and about the society that is created by capitalism, which is utterly cruel, capricious and ludicrous.
One interesting aspect is that it appears to take place at no specific time in history. It is neither exactly in the present or the past. Rather the characters wear the costumes that best express their position in society, whether it is a nouveau riche industrialist in a large vulgar 1970's bow tie or a policeman in the uniform of the Keystone Kops .
The film is photographed beautifully and simply in black and white. The framing and relationship between shots tells you everything about the relationship between the characters. For example there are long passages of shot/reverse shot with no resolution or establishing shot. It shows us how disconnected the protagonist, Karl Rossman is from the world around him.
There are some interesting actors in the film, note for example Laura Betti who was in many Pasolini films. Also the director Harun Faroki plays one of the characters.
I only wish more of Straub/Huillet's work was available in the USA.
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