The Trial (Procès, Le) (1963)

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Released 11-Jan-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-TV Opening
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Innocence; Walkabout; Paris, Texas;
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1963
Running Time 119:15
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Orson Welles
Alexander Salkind
Madman Entertainment
Starring Anthony Perkins
Arnoldo Foà
Jeanne Moreau
Max Haufler
Orson Welles
Romy Schneider
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Jean Lenrut
Tomaso Albinoni

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.59:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The Trial is a film about a man who is trapped in a nightmare world and must try and find his way through an unfamiliar legal system to prove himself innocent of a crime he is accused of committing.

    Joseph K. (Anthony Perkins) is awakened early one morning by a group of men in his apartment who inform him that he is being placed under arrest. The men refuse to specify what crime he is charged with, and Joseph becomes increasingly frustrated as he tries to discover more information. Joseph soon finds that many people around him are aware of his charges but none are prepared to give him any real help. Finally, his uncle puts him in touch with an advocate (Orson Welles) who introduces him to the illogical and confusing legal system he is battling against.

    This movie was written and directed by Orson Welles and is based upon a novel by Franz Kafka. Welles is quotes as saying that he considers The Trial to be the best film he ever made. As many people have noted, this movie has obviously influenced other films such as Terry Gilliam's Brazil, which also has the premise of a man battling against an illogical bureaucratic system at its core.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of approximately 1.60:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The video is usually acceptably sharp but many scenes do appear to be quite soft. The transfer displays acceptable levels of shadow detail, but like the sharpness levels this is notably reduced in a number of scenes. These problems appear to be due to the way that the film was originally shot and not a fault of the transfer. No low level noise was detected during the transfer.

    This is a black and white transfer but the image often appears very slightly brown or green instead of a uniform grey. A number of cross coloration artefacts may also be seen during the transfer resulting in sections of the image producing a coloured rainbow effect. Some of these artefacts may be seen at 17:17, 21:27, 49:12, 74:54 and 107:17. These artefacts are moderately distracting.

    No MPEG artefacts were detected during the transfer.

    A number of aliasing artefacts may be seen during the transfer, such as at 33:20, 33:48, 43:49, 45:00 and 47:14. These artefacts are slightly distracting to the viewer.

    A number of film artefacts are present during the transfer. During the opening five minutes of the film, a large number of artefacts may be seen. For the remainder of the film there are still numerous artefacts but their frequency and severity is significantly reduced. Some of these artefacts may be seen at 9:56, 10:57, 11:27 and 25:05.

    This transfer appears to have been taken from a theatrical print with reel change marks visible at various points such as 17:43, 26:06 and 40:34.

    No subtitles are provided on this disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The film was made with a relatively small budget and this is clearly reflected in the final production audio.

    This disc provides a single Dolby Digital 224 kbps 2.0 mono track.

    Much of the dialogue is slightly muffled and numerous lines are quite difficult to understand. These problems are due to both the original recording as well as the age and quality of the available source material. This problem for viewers could have been helped significantly by the inclusion of a subtitle track.

    Obvious audio sync problems may be seen during many scenes in this film. Some early examples of this may be seen at 7:39, 8:04, 9:20 and 12:12 with these problems continuing throughout. These sync problems are due to the heavy use of ADR and are compounded by Welles' reported trait for slightly altering lines after the initial filming had taken place. The sync problems are initially quite distracting to the viewer but do become less annoying as the film progresses.

    The classical score by Jean Lenrut and Tomaso Albinoni fits the on-screen action well but rarely draws attention to itself and is absent from many sections of the film.

    The surround and subwoofer channels were not utilised during the transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Despite the packaging claims, the USA preview trailer is not included on this disc.


    The non-animated menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

TV Opening (2:58)

    This is an opening introduction that was produced for the US television premiere of the film. This segment summarizes the plot and contains significant spoilers. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack.


    Five or six page biographies are provided for Franz Kafka, Orson Welles, Anthony Perkins and Jeanne Moreau.

Compulsion Trailer (2:25)

    This is a trailer for the Orson Welles film Compulsion. This is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

Trailer: Innocence (2:44)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer: Walkabout (4:03)

    This trailer is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 that is not 16x9 enhanced.

Trailer: Paris Texas (2:02)

    This trailer is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 that is not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 FOCUSfilm Entertainment version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 Image Entertainment version of this disc misses out on;

    There are currently two releases of this film in Region 1. The FOCUSfilm release, titled Citizen Welles, includes this film with The Stranger in a double feature release and claims to be a fully restored version with a remastered 5.1 audio mix. Unfortunately, all reports regarding this release agree that the image quality of both films is very poor and the extras provided are of little real value. The only reason to purchase the FOCUSfilm release would be to see the short film Hearts of Age that may be of interest to diehard Welles fans.

    The Image Entertainment release is much closer to the local release and appears to have a very similar audio and video transfer.


    The Trial is an often confusing film that will appeal to a select group of viewers. If you are a fan of Welles or Kafka you should definitely take a look at this disc.

    Considering the age and quality of the available source materials, the video transfer is acceptable.

    The disappointing audio transfer is often muffled and is plagued by numerous synchronization problems due to the original source materials.

    The minimal extras provide a little interesting insight into the cast and crew but the inclusion of the preview trailer would have been appreciated.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Friday, February 08, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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