Theme Month! April 2018: Kafka Goes to the Movies

If this sounds like a heavy topic, let me assure you that the films of Franz Kafka’s day were generally anything but Kafkaesque. (I adore Kafka but I understand he may not be everyone’s springtime cup of tea.)

Hanns Zischler combed through Kafka’s letters, journals and other writings for mentions of film (the titles not always included), matched them to actual archival holdings. He published his findings in Kafka Goes to the Movies and a four-disc set of the same title was released a bit later.

Whether or not movies influenced Kafka’s writing is debatable but what attracted me to the collection is the grab bag nature of it. Italian and Czech actualities, Russian news, German historical drama, French comedy, American blockbusters (Mary Pickford’s Daddy Long Legs is part of the collection). You see, I am obsessed with everyday viewing experiences of the silent era, not just a few art films, and this is a chance to try exactly the kind of random assortment that attracted me to silent films in the first place.

If you were hoping for something a little more… Kafka, I will be incorporating the author’s quotes about the films where applicable. I’m hoping to strike a pleasing balance between nerds and more casual silent film viewers as both are welcome here.

This is going to be so much fun and I promise there are no sentient insects to worry about. That’s for Ladislas Starevich.


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  1. Ross

    It’s difficult to dig up any relevant information that relates to James Joyce’s works from the record of films shown at The Volta in Dublin, his brief foray into exhibition, despite a few semi cryptic allusions in ‘Finnegans Wake.’
    For anyone interested the programmes are listed as an appendix to ‘Roll Away the Reel World’ Edited by John McCourt.

    I guess that he and Kafka just enjoyed a night at this new fangled art form.

  2. Ross

    I must admit to bypassing ‘The Aeroplanes at Brescia’ for the better known ‘Transformation’ and ‘In the Penal Colony’ but after reading this I did read it. It has some interesting qualities; something between Marinetti’s Futurism and Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’ story ‘After the Race.’ Few fiction writers tackle the genre now, maybe David Foster Wallace?

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