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‘The Trial’ – lighting and cinematography report

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The first live action sequence in Orson Welles’s ‘The Trial’ provides the initial insight into the conflict about to enter the life of protagonist Josef K.

As the Before the Law prologue concludes, the final image is the door.

The voice-over by Welles puts forward the idea that Kafka’s story has ‘the logic of a dream, of a nightmare’. The door frame dissolves into the next image of K sleeping.

A dissolve is used, rather than a straight cut, to imply a passing of time and to suggest  an ‘hallucinatory state’ (Prunes, M 2002). The composition on screen of K’s sleeping face provides a further link with the vocal narration. His forehead is composed on the 2nd vertical division of thirds. This framing combines with the key light on the top portion of his head to ‘signpost’ the viewers’ eyes into his dreaming mind. (Van Sijll, J 2001…

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