A Steven Soderbergh Film
A Baltimore Pictures,
Renn/Pricel S.A. Production
A Miramax Films Release
The year is 1919, the city is Prague, a place of narrow, twisted cobblestone streets and medieval towers, casting eerie shadows at every turn. Above the city looms the Castle, a vast imposing monolith that bespeaks authority and fear.
This the world of Kafka (Jeremy Irons), a man whose life is divided into two halves. By day, he is a clerk in the large, impersonal offices of the huge Accident and Insurance Compensation Association, but by night, he is a writer, relentlessly searching for the truth as he pecks out stories and letters to his father in his cramped attic apartment. He is a man who keeps to himself, a man of few friends, a man whose everyday is like the last, until one day, his fellow worker and closest friend, Eduard Raban, mysteriously vanishes.
As Kafka begins to search for the truth behind his friend's disappearance, he is drawn deeper into a world of mystery and danger just below the orderly veneer of society. He meets Raban's seductive friend Gabriela Rossman (Theresa Russell), who lures him into her circle of anarchist friends; and when Eduard Raban turns up drowned, Kafka discovers that he himself is being investigated by the inscrutable Police Inspector Grubach (Armin Mueller-Stahl).
Kafka's life at the office also spirals into the bizarre after he is given an unexpected promotion by the Chief Clerk (Sir Alec Guiness). The promotion includes the advent of two assistants, Oskar and Ludwig (Simon McBurney and Keith Allen), self-proclaimed identical twins who look nothing alike -- and can do nothing right. Meanwhile, Kafka continues to be plagued by the insidiously prying Burgel (Joel Grey), the officious spy.
Driven by the succession of enigmatic events around him, Kafka is determined to find the logic at their center. Overnight, he has changed from a lonely recluse to a hunted man. When he learns that Eduard Raban was summoned to the Castle the night of his death, Kafka begins to suspect Raban was murdered -- and that the clues leading to his killer can only lie within the Castle's impenetrable stone walls.
With the help of an unlikely literary fan, the gravestone cutter Bizzlebek (Jeroen Krabbe), Kafka wends his way through a secret escape route that begins beneath a cemetery tomb and ends in the bureaucratic bowels of the Castle. When he emerges into the Castle's interior, an Escher-like maze of corridor after infinite corridor -- he discovers the answer to his quest.
What Kafka finds is far worse than anything he could ever have possibly imagined, a reality worse than his nightmares, a tale worthy of his future fiction.