Released 1991




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Movie Summary

Steven Soderbergh

The year is 1919; the place, an unnamed city in Eastern Europe. When his only friend is murdered, Kafka, a consumptive employee in a vast insurance firm, must get inside the castle overlooking the city in order to solve the mystery.


Metacritic Score

  • 50

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Kafka, as subject or character, simply doesn't fit into the world of this film. Soderbergh does demonstrate again here that he's a gifted director, however unwise in his choice of ...

  • 50

    San Francisco Chronicle Edward Guthmann

    It sounds promising, but it doesn't work. You get the feeling that Soderbergh, so early in his directing career, has exceeded his reach -- that the com- plicated logistics of makin...

  • 33

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The movie is MTV Kafka: Instead of dialogue, character, behavior, it has a look and a mood. And that's all it has.

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The names of certain characters are taken from Franz Kafka's literary works, although applied to quite different characters - for example, the police inspector is called "Grubach", the name of Joseph K.'s landlady in The Trial, whilst the heroine is called "Rossmann", the name of the hero of Amerika. There are also other references - the villain is surnamed "Murnau", after the German film director F.W. Murnau, whilst an address is said to be "in the Musil district", a reference to the German novelist Robert Musil.

    • It is not strictly accurate to say that Jeremy Irons plays the writer Franz Kafka (1883-1924) in this film. No first name is given to his character, and the city is never identified by name, although certain Prague landmarks are visible. The film's Kafka is said to have become engaged twice to the same woman but she does not have the same name as Kafka's real fiancee, whom he never married, and at one point, Kafka tells a friend he is "working on a story about a man who turns into a giant insect" - a reference to a genuine Kafka short story, Metamorphosis, except that that was published in 1914, whilst this film takes place in 1919.

  • QUOTES (1)

    • The Chief Clerk: [talking to Kafka about the murdered Eduard Raban]: He was too much like you. More so, in fact, than you are yourself.

  • NOTES (0)