Just before going to the Castle, Kafka ask Bizzlebek to burn his manuscripts if he never came back. Bizzlebek replies "such an extraordinary request". This is in reference of the real request Kafka asked his friend Max Brod before dying. Brod couldn't go with the request and had Kafka's work published.
Loosely based on Franz Kafka's novel, "The Castle". In it a protagonist, known only as K., struggles to gain access to the mysterious authorities of a castle who govern the village for unknown reasons. Kafka died before finishing the work.
In the novel "The Castle", as in the film, the protagonist, struggles to gain access to the mysterious authorities of a castle who govern the village for unknown reasons. "The Castle" is about alienation, bureaucracy, the seemingly endless frustrations of man's attempts to stand against the system, and the futile and hopeless pursuit of an unobtainable goal.
When searching for Edward in the "Cafe Continental", as he exits, some of his friends ask Kafka: "What are you working on?" He replies:" A thing about a man who wakes up and finds himself transformed into a giant insect!" This is a direct reference to Kafka's novel: "The Metamorphosis".
Jeremy Irons does not exactly play Franz Kafka in this film; he plays a man named Kafka who (like Franz Kafka) works in an insurance firm and has an unsuccessful writing career and an estrangement from his father, to whom he writes a long letter. However, no first name is ever given for this character, nor is it ever stated that the action takes place in Franz Kafka's home city of Prague, although various landmarks are shown. Furthermore, various biographical details are incorrect - Kafka is said to have been twice engaged to a woman named Anna, whereas Franz Kafka's fiancée (whom he never married) was called Felice Bauer, and he also mentions to a friend that he is, in 1919, working on a story about a man who is changed into a gigantic beetle, when Franz Kafka's famous story "Metamorphosis" was actually published in 1914, one of the few works of his to be published in his lifetime.
When Kafka first talks with Bizzlebek, he mentions that he read "That story about the Penal Colony". He is referring to the short story, "The Penal Colony". In it, Kafka describes the last use of an elaborate torture and execution device that carves the sentence of the condemned prisoner on his skin in a script before letting him die, all in the course of twelve hours.
Several characters in this film have the same names as characters in Kafka's books, but are quite different otherwise - for example, the girl played by Theresa Russell is surnamed "Rossman", the name of the 16-year-old hero of "Amerika", whilst the police inspector is called "Grubach", the name of Joseph K.'s landlady in "The Trial".
In addition to naming supporting characters after dissimilar characters in Franz Kafka's novels and stories, this film also uses other names with some literary or cinematic significance - the mysterious Dr. Murnau is named after the great director F.W. Murnau, whilst the bomb outrage is said to take place in "the Musil district", named after the great German novelist Robert Musil, whose work has often been linked to Kafka's.