Without any flashy effects, The Trial remains the most realistic depiction of a dream that I have ever seen. If, that is, that Orson Welles meant it to be so. Although it is not pertaining to the central conflict of the narrative, I constantly juggled the ideas that I had relating to how the film should be received. If it is supposed to have any applications to everyday life, I must have missed them.
But it is very easy to see how I was fascinated. The film begins with a short fable narrated by Welles. The tale is one told by the inhabitants of the world that we are about to visit. Once we get there, the intrigue from the very beginning carries over to our introduction to Joseph K., played by Anthony Perkins. The scene begins with Joseph lying alone in his bed. In any other movie, this would be insignificant, but does Welles mean it as a hint? Could he have warned us from the start that it is all just a dream? Dream or not, Joseph never considers the question. This is real life to him.
We are then gripped by the revealing of a visitor in the bedroom: an inspector whose purpose is to arrest Joseph for an unnamed crime. It all seems perfectly normal up to that point, but as we see Joseph’s workplace, his friends, and his accusers, his world begins to seem reflective of our dreams…or nightmares.
There is a scene with a wooden shack sitting at the top of a spiral staircase within a brightly lit building. The police inspector steals Joseph’s clothes. A man enters a doorway and later exits to discover that the door is now twice as big. It is really very incredible that The Trial can appear so nonsensical, resembling the films of Bunuel and Lynch, yet still keep a firm grasp on our attention and emotions.