The Trial is an exceptionally strange film, at least for something that was made by a fairly “mainstream” director by Orson Welles. Adapted from the Franz Kafka novel of the same name, the film was released in 1962 and starred Mr. Norman Bates himself, Anthony Perkins. It’s a maze of gorgeous film noir cinematography and dense existentialism. I can barely tell you what it is really about, but I was endlessly fascinated by its parade of extremely odd scenes and shadows.
A man is arrested by other men who say they are cops, but who have no uniform or no hint of what the man is accused of. He fights a system that everyone seems to understand except him and the audience. He runs through endless shady corridors, which are alternately built out of stone, piles of paper, filing cabinets, rainy windows, paintings of judges, zombie-like men, or slats of wood that hid giggling hordes of fangirls. At a late point in the film, Orson Welles himself emerges, steaming, from a pile of pillows and blankets. There’s something about a birthday cake.
At no point does anyone turn into a giant cockroach, but it wouldn’t have surprised me.
Orson Welles was fond of saying that this was the best film he ever made. It truly is a helluva thing, even if I don’t feel like I’m smart enough (or existentialist enough) to understand it. At some point in the future, I’ll be happy to give it another view, dig in, and really make an effort to figure it out. As it is, it makes for a wonderfully atmospheric fever-dream about a lost, accused man.
If you care to take a look yourself, the film is readily available: it’s in the public domain ever since it was made (no copyright was ever filed), so you can even dig it out of YouTube if you feel like it. It’s currently on Netflix Streaming until 5/12/2012. Sadly, they aren’t great transfers, but you’ll get the idea. (If you really want a nice version, I hear the Millenium DVD is quite nice. I might have to snag it myself.)
Yesterday, when I edited and posted this video to YouTube, I chose a piece of music from my collection to accompany the visuals. The composer (Robert Schumann) and the performer (Sergei Rachmaninoff) are both quite dead, but it looks like the recording is still under copyright. In fact, YouTube identified it as such as soon as I uploaded it. I decided not to sweat it, as a) the video isn’t going to have a huge audience, b) I’m not making money off the video, c) Schumann and Rachmaninoff aren’t going to benefit from any proceeds at this point, d) YouTube has much bigger fish to fry than me, and e) it would have been pain in the rear to find a creative commons piece of music of the correct length that I also liked.
That said, I’m a fan of a reasonable amount of copyright. I do believe in paying for the media I personally use. I pay for all my movies and all my music. I believe in supporting the artists that entertain me.
I wish I could easily pay a nominal amount for music rights for the personal videos I post.
I mean, really, how cool would that be? If you are cutting together a video of your kid’s baseball game, and you know in your heart that John Fogarty’s “Centerfield” is the only proper piece of background music, why couldn’t you pay, say, $5 per year to have the video legally posted on YouTube? Or, if you are making advertising money off your YouTube channel, why couldn’t you pay [a somewhat larger amount] per copyrighted song?
Wouldn’t this be better? Copyright owners would make money. YouTube could probably take a small cut and make money. Video creators would be able to use whatever music they want — easily and legally — for a nominal fee. If you’re a video creator that already owns the rights to the music you use, great! Just get a coupon code from the copyright owner and log it on YouTube. If a video creator doesn’t want to pay the license fee, then they can go find or make something that’s not copyrighted.
I haven’t figured out how they’d work with Fair Use, but I bet it could be done somehow.
YouTube already has the music recognition capabilities and the money-handling capabilities. I bet, by adding a pathway to actually pay for these music rights, YouTube would actually be better able to control the unlicensed materials that course through its digital veins.
What do you think?
I’ll conclude my Ebertfest posts this week (hopefully tomorrow and Wednesday), but for now, I’ll just post a little something I did on April 25th:
When I drove from Morgantown, WV to Champaign, IL, I strapped a Plantcam to the passenger seat, just to see what it could do. I attempted to use it once before (at B-Fest), and didn’t get very good results (as it isn’t made to shoot in low light), so I figured I’d give it another shot in daylight. As you can see, I at least got something usable this time.