Screen Two: Season 2, Episode 7

The Insurance Man (22 Feb. 1986)

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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 72 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 1 critic

Franz, a young man, works in a dye factory in Prague. One day he notices a skin-rash, like eczema, growing on his hands. All attempts to treat it with ointment fail, and the rash gradually ... See full summary »



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Title: The Insurance Man (22 Feb 1986)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Franz (old)
Alan MacNaughton ...
Robert Hines ...
Franz (young)
Diana Rayworth ...
Teddy Turner ...
Old Man in Dyeworks
Phil Hearne ...
Ronan Wilmot ...
Factory Doctor
Jill Frudd ...
Katy Behean ...
C.J. Allen ...
Undermanager (as C. J. Allen)
Fred Gaunt ...
Tessa Wojtczak ...
Johnny Allen ...
Christina's Father
Margo Stanley ...
Christina's Mother


Franz, a young man, works in a dye factory in Prague. One day he notices a skin-rash, like eczema, growing on his hands. All attempts to treat it with ointment fail, and the rash gradually spreads over his body. After complaining to the management he is laid off work; his relationship with his fiancee is affected. In an attempt to get compensation from his former employers he goes to insurance firm Assicurazion Generali, where he encounters an enigmatic clerk called Kafka. Written by Peter Brynmor Roberts

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independent film | See All (1) »





Release Date:

22 February 1986 (UK)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Uneven, but well worth seeing
9 February 2013 | by (US) – See all my reviews

Beautifully shot and very well acted by a large cast that includes Daniel Day Lewis and Jim Broadbent. This is an attempt to make Franz Kafka the man, a supporting character in a story with the feel of his writings; the nightmarish surreal confusion and darkness. (Steven Soderbergh did something somewhat similar in his film 'Kafka', but that was far more surreal and baroque, and less a social statement, and Kafka was at the center of the tale).

In this case it's the world of insurance covering industrial accidents, the world in which Kafka did in fact earn his living. There are trenchant and often darkly funny observations on the abuses of the industrial world of those that labor in it, and the absurdity built into the system of insurance, working to insure that the majority of people will simply give up on ever collecting.

In 1945, with Prague under Nazi control a man dying from asbestos destroyed lungs tells his doctor of how many years earlier as a young man (Robert Hines) he sought help for a skin condition brought on by his work in a dye factory, ending up being helped by Kafka.

While there is a lot to admire here, I did find the tone a bit wobbly, and some of the themes and ideas more heavy-handedly overstated (or re-stated) than might have been needed. At least on first viewing it worked slightly better as an idea than as a finished piece. I enjoyed seeing Alan Bennett stretch himself as a writer and director Richard Eyre's eye for noir-like nightmare images, but in the end, I didn't find the whole that emotional or impactful. More interesting than involving.

That said, it is dense enough that it may well improve on a 2nd visit. Certainly the professional critical response was of a very high order.

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