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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


Not Rated | See all certifications »






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

This Is The Reason Short Films Exist
5 January 2007 | by gavin6942See all my reviews

Franz Kafka sits in his apartment trying to write "The Metamorphosis", but is bothered by a man selling knives and hacksaws, women throwing a party and a lady selling gag gifts. This, mixed with a twisted version of the Frank Capra film this movie is named after, makes for an interesting time.

One reviewer summarized this film as "Monty Python meets Orson Welles over the body of Franz Kafka with spectacular results!" I can see that. The Monty Python is the oddball humor, and the Franz Kafka is the main plot. But the Orson Welles really stands out, too, and maybe would not have if I had not read the review. The scenes in this film rely heavily on odd camera shots, many of them from under the floorboards or up stairs, giving the "larger than life" look Welles had in "Citizen Kane" when the cameraman sat in dug out hole. (Try it yourself, taking someone's photograph from a seated position while they stand -- gigantic!)

The main character (Kafka) is played beautifully by Richard E. Grant. I obviously never met Kafka personally, but Grant portrays him as a paranoid and idiosyncratic, eccentric germophobe. Yeah, I think that pretty much captures the idea (have you read Kafka's "The Trial"?). Grant is known from other projects, but this might well be his master performance.

The secondary characters are also nice... the salesman is great and the woman at the party is perfect for the role. And we need not forget the man playing Gregor Samsa... nice acting and fine singing! The way the footage for the Samsa parts was made to look very old (1920s) was a nice touch, giving off a comedic Charlie Chaplinesque quality.

If you can find this in your local video store, pick it up. As a short film, even if you don't like it, the movie will be over before you realize it. But I'd bet dollars to doughnuts you'll love it as much as me. This one really takes the original idea and runs with it... to Oscar gold.

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