I haven’t seen Steven Soderbergh’s Kafka (1991) in at least 15 years. I was in high school at the time and had just started reading Franz Kafka (like any lit geek of that age), and was intrigued by that Kafka movie on VHS. I can’t really remember too much of it, but the snippets in my head remind me now of Carol Reed’s The Third Man and Alex Proyas’s Dark City. The movie was never released on DVD (at least in the US, as far as I know).
With his retirement looming, Soderbergh revealed that one of his post-retirement plans was to give Kafka a full overhaul, cutting a lot of footage, changing the score, and even redubbing the whole film in German. Soderbergh told Empire the following:
I was frustrated with Kafka — it had a mixed-to-negative reaction when it came out — and I’m trying to completely rethink it in the hopes of at least turning it into something that’s unified. The tone was all over the place — which is the classic young filmmaker’s mistake. I’d like to make it a little more abstract and more of a hardcore art movie. It’s not a tweak: it’s triage.
It’d be interesting to compare the two versions of Kafka, and also how the two versions of the film compare to Lem Dobbs’s original script, which is supposed to be pretty incredible. Keep an eye out for this in the future. I may give Kafka a rewatch some time soon.
After the cut, I’ve included the opening credits from Kafka. What do you think about directors revisiting perceived failures from their own past?[Empire via Word & Film]