6.9/10
9,358
54 user 36 critic

Kafka (1991)

Trailer
1:23 | Trailer
Kafka works during the day at an insurance company, where events lead him to discover a mysterious underground society with strange suppressive goals.

Director:

Steven Soderbergh

Writer:

Lem Dobbs
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Irons ... Franz Kafka
Theresa Russell ... Gabriela
Joel Grey ... Burgel
Ian Holm ... Doctor Murnau
Jeroen Krabbé ... Bizzlebek
Armin Mueller-Stahl ... Grubach
Alec Guinness ... The Chief Clerk
Brian Glover ... Castle Henchman
Keith Allen ... Assistant Ludwig
Simon McBurney ... Assistant Oscar
Robert Flemyng ... The Keeper of the Files
Matyelok Gibbs Matyelok Gibbs ... Concierge
Ion Caramitru ... Solemn Anarchist
Hilde Van Mieghem ... Female Anarchist (as Hilde Van Meighem)
Jan Nemejovský ... Mustachioed Anarchist
Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A young boy struggles on his own in a run-down motel after his parents and younger brother are separated from him in 1930s Depression-era Midwest.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Jesse Bradford, Jeroen Krabbé, Lisa Eichhorn
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A recovering gambling addict attempts to reconcile with his family and friends but finds trouble and temptation when caught between feelings for his ex-wife and her dangerous hoodlum boyfriend.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Peter Gallagher, Elisabeth Shue, Alison Elliott
Schizopolis (1996)
Comedy | Fantasy | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Fletcher Munson, the lethargic employee of a pseudo-religious self help company, and his doppelganger, the friendly but dull dentist Dr. Jeffrey Korchek.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Steven Soderbergh, Miles Hardy, Scott Allen
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher
Bubble I (2005)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Set against the backdrop of a decaying Midwestern town, a murder becomes the focal point of three people who work in a doll factory.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Debbie Doebereiner, Omar Cowan, Dustin James Ashley
The Limey (1999)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An extremely volatile and dangerous Englishman goes to Los Angeles to find the man he considers responsible for his daughter's death.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Lesley Ann Warren
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

After doctors inform him that an eye affliction will require risky surgery, monologist Spalding Gray recounts his various pursuits for alternative medicine to avoid the doctor's scalpel.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Spalding Gray, Mike McLaughlin, Melissa Robertson
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

While in post-war Berlin to cover the Potsdam Conference, an American military journalist is drawn into a murder investigation which involves his former mistress and his driver.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

A drama set in the days leading up to the 2008 Presidential election, and centered on a high-end Manhattan call girl meeting the challenges of her boyfriend, her clients, and her work.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Sasha Grey, Chris Santos, Philip Eytan
Full Frontal (2002)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  

A day in the life of a group of men and women in Hollywood, in the hours leading up to a friend's birthday party.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Julia Roberts, David Hyde Pierce, David Duchovny
Solaris (2002)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A troubled psychologist is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Ulrich Tukur
Che: Part One (2008)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 1956, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and a band of Castro-led Cuban exiles mobilize an army to topple the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Julia Ormond, Benicio Del Toro, Oscar Isaac
Edit

Storyline

Kafka, an insurance worker gets embroiled in an underground group after a co-worker is murdered. The underground group is responsible for bombings all over town, attempting to thwart a secret organization that controls the major events in society. He eventually penetrates the secret organization and must confront them. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

To solve a mystery he will enter a nightmare.


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

When searching for Edward in the "Café 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 Franz Kafka's novel: "The Metamorphosis", which was, in reality, published five years before this event in the movie. See more »

Quotes

Chief Clerk: Oh, I know you were friendly with that poor fellow, what was his name -
Franz Kafka: Raban... Eduard Raban.
Chief Clerk: Yes, yes, Raban. But he was too like you. Even more like you, perhaps, than you are yourself.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Clerks (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Eddie's Dead (Main Title)
Composed by Cliff Martinez
(p) & © 1992 Virgin Records America, Inc.
distributed by WEA through arrangement with Atlantic Records.
See more »

User Reviews

Visually stunning and thematically complex melding of Kafka's life and work
18 March 2008 | by ThreeSadTigersSee all my reviews

This is a somewhat curious film, attempting to be old-fashioned - in the sense that we have varying strands from an early-twentieth century writer, as well as setting, production design and various visual iconography - yet at the same time striving for a sense of post-modernist reinvention. So, what we end up with is a stunning, self-referential combination of the 'look' (which mixes elements of Carol Reed's The Third Man and Welles' Citizen Kane), with elements of the steam-punk sub-genre of films like Eraserhead, Brazil, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Barton Fink, etc . The story also concerns itself with the notions of the film-noir, both in terms of characterisation, narrative tension and visual design.

So, with Kafka (1991), we not only have the externally referential - of Kafka writing a story, whilst simultaneously involving himself in a real-life plot that will, in turn, become the story he is writing (The Castle) - but also the internal references to Kafka's own biographical history; from his job at the insurance company, to the difficult relationship with his father, and also his failed love affair etc. In the lead role we have one of Britain's most competent actors, Jeremy Irons, who, although never looking exactly like Kafka, does at least manage to embody the quiet, stubborn, meticulous spirit of the writer (or, at least the image that we have of him). His performance is one of complete restraint, far removed from some of his more caricatured performances of recent years, as he offers up a mirrored perspective for the audience; lingering in the background of the scene and simply reacting to what is going on around him (again, a popular device from Kafka's work).

Director Steven Soderbergh compliments and visualises the screenplay by Lem Dobbs exceptionally well, drawing on the aforementioned influences in a similar, post-modernistic way to their subsequent 1999 collaboration, The Limey. Soderbergh also offers us a depiction of a crumbling Europe thrown into confusion, creating a fully functioning world, much like Ridley Scott did with Blade Runner - offering us an illustration of the past by way of the future - or a depiction of Europe in decline to rival that of Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), von Trier's Europa (1991) and Soderbergh own subsequent film, The Good German (2006). So, whereas most films are content to create, or in this case recreate, early-twentieth century iconography in which the past is as pristine and shockingly brand-new, as if it were created only a yesterday, here we get a past that is dirty, grimy, filled with smoke, fog and dust; in short... totally believable.

This is a film the people expect too much coherency from; something that Soderbergh's continual mainstream success has only damaged further. As more and more cinema-goers come to adore films like Oceans 11 (2000), Traffic (2001) and Solaris (2002), they come to Kafka expecting a mainstream Hollywood thriller. Kafka couldn't be further from this. Here is an intelligent film that draws on the audience's understanding of European cinema and, to some extent, Kafka's own literary back-catalogue in order to piece together the film's central mystery. The main reference point is Kafka's book The Castle; here featured as an imposing fortress atop a shadowy hill. Inside, Kafka finds Ian Holm's mad scientist and the film switches to glorious Technicolor. There are also allusions made to The Trail, with Armin Mueller-Stahl's detective doggedly questioning Kafka's whereabouts and the integrity of his 'story' (an important factor within the film's internal struggle), as well as a direct reference to The Metamorphosis and some of the writer's more abstract shorter pieces.

Soderbergh and Dobbs aren't concerned with pandering to anyone here; they allow the story to remain, much like Kafka himself, an enigma. The story grips us like film-noir should, and Soderbergh keeps us enthralled with his constantly inventive camera work. This is a perfect film that deals with notions of fact and fiction, dreams and reality. The filmmakers respect our intelligence; they understand that some question can remain unanswered and film can work better as a result of this. Whether or not you believe the story to have taken place entirely in Kafka's head (note how the last shot of the film sees Kafka at his writing desk) or whether you see it as the mirroring of fact and fiction is entirely up to you. With fine support from Theresa Russell, Jeroen Krabbé and Alec Guinness, coupled with an exotic Cliff Martinez score, what we have with Kafka is one of the best and most underrated films of the nineteen nineties. A unique experience.


22 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 54 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

France | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 November 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Кафка See more »

Filming Locations:

Czech Republic See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$40,814, 8 December 1991

Gross USA:

$1,059,071

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,059,071
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Your Next Binge Watch Awaits

Looking for something to watch? Check out IMDb's "What to Watch" series to find out what's really worth watching.



Recently Viewed