Monday, August 17, 2015

Movie Review - Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life

"He gave me inspiration and I gave him death."
                         - Franz Kafka in Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life

The film Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life opens with the first line of Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis," which reads "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

The rest of the 23-minute film revolves around Kafka's struggle to write that one single line. In fact, it revolves solely around his struggle to figure out exactly what Gregor Samsa transformed into. This surreal film explores a lot of options, including a banana.

Interruptions abound, as well, in the form of:
  • Multiple knocks and interruptions at the door.
  • Other interruptions from noisy neighbors.
  • A nearby barking dog.
He receives multiple less-than-subtle hints that the answer to his struggle is an insect. But those hints and interruptions only cause him stress. His frustration grows and grows until he lashes out at a cockroach on his desk. It is at that point that inspiration and regret come to fruition.

 References to It's a Wonderful Life and other Capra films abound:
  • At one point, neighbors begin playing "Polly Wolly Doodle" on the piano, disrupting his thought. This song was recurrent in Frank Capra's You Can't Take it With You.
  • He is rescued by the donations made by his neighbors that change his outlook on life and his end story.
  • In the final scene, his neighbors begin to sing "Hark the Herald, Angels Sing."
  • Kafka comments "I didn't realize that I had so many friends."
  • Kafka invites his neighbors to call him "Mr. F." which is reminiscent of Henry F. Potter.
  • Kafka picks up his neighbor's youngest daughter and together they join the chorus of "Hark the Herald."
You must enjoy surrealism and films that leave you scratching your head, questioning just exactly it is that you have just seen. It is an odd film, but it is intended to be that way. Check it out. But if you aren't familiar with both Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" and It's a Wonderful Life, you won't get it. I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life was released in 1995 and stars Richard E. Grant.

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