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Steven Soderbergh Says His New Cut Of ‘Kafka’ Will Be “A Hardcore Art Movie”

Steven Soderbergh Says His New Cut Of 'Kafka' Will Be "A Hardcore Art Movie"

Since the beginning of his career, Steven Soderbergh has never walked the traditional filmmaking path, and after his celebrated Palme d’Or winning debut “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” he completely changed the game for this sophomore effort. 1991’s “Kafka” was an ambitious and stylized psychological thriller/horror/noir, presented in black-and-white (except for a key climatic sequence) that drew harsh reviews, flopped hard upon release and has never been available on DVD in the U.S. Our recent Soderbergh retrospective lauded the film as a “a very strong and idiosyncratic piece of work” but has it been consigned to the dustbin of time? Hardly.

Earlier this year, Soderbergh revealed he was re-cutting “Kafka” — starring Jeremy Irons in a surreal tale based very loosely on the real life author — with some very ambitious plans to fix the movie that he wasn’t satisfied with the first time around. “We shot some inserts while we were doing ‘Side Effects.’ I’m also dubbing the whole thing into German so the accent issue goes away,” he explained in January. “And Lem [Dobbs] and I have been working on recalibrating some of the dialogue and the storytelling. So it’s a completely different movie.” Just how different will it be?

Well, talking to Empire, Soderbergh says that the already arty movie is going to get, well, artier. “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,” he said of the movie that he says will be shorter.

His plans are to release the movie on Blu-ray with both the original version and the new cut which he’s calling the “Midnight Edition” because “it’s perfect for Friday or Saturday night shows.” While the German dubbed language track still isn’t quite confirmed, the movie will have a new score and an entirely new edit. No word on a commentary track, but Soderbergh tells Empire that re-teaming with screenwriter Lem Dobbs after their legendary audio contribution to “The Limey” “might be worth doing.”

No release date but perhaps we’ll see this soon on Sodebergh’s webstore. Until then, watch the original version of “Kafka” below. 

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I just watched this film for the second time, after a long time, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t imagine what a re-imagined version could do to improve it.
I am inclined to suggest this has more to do with Soderberg’s own impression of his own project, than it does with "fixing" it.
Seeing as the director admitted to not being able to keep his hands off of "2001" (good edit), I suspect it will be forthcoming anyway, and I’ll watch it.

Really enjoyed seeing influences from Welles, Gilliam and others.

Stephen B

I seem to recall an interview with Lem Dobbs where he said he wanted it to be LESS arty and more of a straight up noir. Funny that Soderbergh went in the other direction.


I always enjoyed the movie, true Teresa Russell's performance was not very good, but the atmosphere and dread of the film allowed me to look past it. I've always wished it would be released here, so it will be nice to be able to see the new version as well as the old.


After this, all we need is King of the Hill re-released and Soderbergh can "retire" peacefully.


The score was one of the greatest things about KAFKA. Can he cut out Teresa Russell's horrible performance?


Anxiously awaiting a blu-ray, or at least a good DVD. Great film…

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