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Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life (1993)

While trying to decide what Gregor Samsa wakes up as, Kafka's constantly being interrupted by knife-selling strangers, party noise, girls, fancy dress costumes, and other strange, dreamlike... See full summary »


Peter Capaldi


Peter Capaldi
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Richard E. Grant ... Franz Kafka
Crispin Letts ... Gregor Samsa
Ken Stott ... Woland the Knifeman
Elaine Collins Elaine Collins ... Miss Cicely
Phyllis Logan ... Frau Bunofsky
Julie Cox ... Party Girl
Jessie Doyle Jessie Doyle ... Party Girl
Sammy Sheldon Sammy Sheldon ... Party Girl (as Samantha Howarth)
Justine Luxton Justine Luxton ... Party Girl
Laura Reiss Laura Reiss ... Party Girl
Thea Tait Thea Tait ... Party Girl
Lucy Woodhouse Lucy Woodhouse ... Party Girl


While trying to decide what Gregor Samsa wakes up as, Kafka's constantly being interrupted by knife-selling strangers, party noise, girls, fancy dress costumes, and other strange, dreamlike visions. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

29 November 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?


Elaine Collins (Miss Cicely) is the wife of writer and director Peter Capaldi. See more »


Franz Kafka: He gave me inspiration and I gave him death.
See more »


Sweet Mystery of Life
Written by Victor Herbert
Arranged by Philip Appleby
Performed by Crispin Letts
See more »

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User Reviews

A phenomenal flight of imagination on Kafka's creative process
19 August 2013 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

Inventive and artistic, this beautiful flight of imagination is one of the greatest ideas ever composed and translated into a delightful cinematic experience. Matching together the creative genius of Franz Kafka with the positive outcomes of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" the short tells the difficult process of creating a novel, not in the sense of being something to be read but something to be felt and comprehended by readers of different generations, the greatest testament an artist can give to humanity. And believe it or not, one exact word can make a complete difference in a writing work. This strenuous mind exercise coming from a writer is the problematic basis for this amazing short film.

Peter Capaldi imagines the conception of the now famed masterpiece "The Metamorphosis" with Kafka (played by Richard E. Grant) having a terrible writer's block in the very first sentence, the classical "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect". But here, he doesn't know what Gregor is about to be transformed not only because of his block but that also relates with distractions around him, with his loud neighbors celebrating a Christmas party and interrupting visitors who appear from time to time. What he least expects is that those individuals and the strange situations they're involved may be of help for his book.

The mixture of elements, although strange and sometimes a little inadequate, is a good one. We have Kafka writing Gregor's story, then there's few glimpses of Gregor being transformed into multiple things before his final destination. Opressively, dramatic and spooky moments mixed with some strange humor, very characteristic in the works of the Polish writer. Later on the cheerful and bright conclusion borrowed from Capra's release comes along with a certain moral of the story that was a little off-suiting for this movie. It's one way of seeing things and it might work best with those who know little about the life and work of Franz Kafka, commonly known for sad and darker stories.

I only disagree with the treatment given to the main character played as if being a soft version of Ebenezer Scrooge, far from the timid and repressed view given of Kafka in biographies. But Mr. Grant was good, just as effective as the mysterious man played by Ken Stott. And it's good to know that it all paid off, this Burtonesque film was agraciated with the Oscar as Best Short - Live Action, tied with "Trevor" and one Bafta. And who could have imagined that the hilarious performer of Malcolm Tucker is not only a great actor but also a talented writer and director. This is a solid proof. 9/10

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