O Castelo (1997) é um filme que não foi visto. Pouco se encontra de comentários e críticas a respeito do título de Michael Haneke. Alguns sites especializados chegam a ignorá-lo ao elaborar filmografias do cineasta alemão. Duas explicações para isto podem ser facilmente identificadas: primeiro, foi lançado no mesmo ano de Violência Gratuita [Brincadeiras Perigosas] (1997), que acabou se tornando uma das principais referências de Haneke; segundo, trata-se de uma versão do livro homônimo de Franz Kafka, e a resistência em relação a adaptações de grandes escritores é plenamente natural.
Quem conhece as produções de Haneke sabe de sua predilecção por formatos ousados e da sua atracção pelo surrealismo. Por isso, a escolha da obra de Kafka é atraente. Assim como seus grandes clássicos O Processo e A Metamorfose, esta é uma história sustentada por uma grande e complexa alegoria e dotada de uma subversão que foi transferida para o filme.
A trama é simples: K. (Ulrich Mühe) é um agrimensor enviado a um vilarejo (de localização indefinida, como é de praxe) a trabalho. Lá, descobre a existência de um castelo misterioso, ao qual apenas alguns privilegiados têm acesso. Ele decide conhecer o lugar a todo custo, mas logo percebe que a tarefa não será fácil.
O que é o castelo? Por que K. quer tanto chegar até lá? Por que há quem tente impedir que ele consiga? Se não o querem lá, quem o mandou e por quê? Essas perguntas tornam-se inevitáveis e, em um determinado momento, perturbadoras (como manda o bom cinema hanekiano). Ilude-se quem pensa que as respostas virão mastigadas em uma reviravolta final. Não, não se trata de um policial americano insosso. As dúvidas permanecem sem esclarecimento mesmo após o término do filme, inclusive porque acaba antes do fim da história (assim como o livro).
O Castelo tem suas qualidades. Haneke é impecável na direção de atores. Encontramos atuações consistentes até nos papéis secundários. E é preciso registrar que o diretor faz algo raro: incluir um elemento que dê à narrativa uma dose de humor, ainda que bem leve. Essa função é cumprida pelos assistentes de K. (Frank Giering e Felix Eitner).
Made for Austrian television in 1997 - the same year that he would make his feature Funny Games - Michael Haneke’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s ‘Das Schloss’ sees the director working with adapted material that chimes entirely with a personal worldview we have come to know from films like The Seventh Continent, Code Unknown and Hidden (Caché), depicting individuals buckling under the increasingly cold and uncaring mechanical progress of modern society. Using many of the same actors who feature in Funny Games, it presents an intriguing parallel to the director’s breakthrough feature film.
Kafka’s unfinished novel ‘Das Schloss’, follows the activity of one such alienated individual trying to make sense of the innumerable and unfathomable levels of bureaucracy to find his own place and position in the world. K. (Ulrich Mühe) arrives in the village that surrounds the Castle as a stranger. Finding an inn, he is unable to obtain a room, but the innkeeper allows him to sleep on a mattress in the parlour of the bar. His intrusion is seen as unwelcome and Schwarzer, the son of the under-Castellan, challenges him, regarding him as a vagabond. A quick call however reveals that K. has been engaged by the Castle as a Land Surveyor.
K.’s assistants Jeremias and Artur (Felix Eitner and Frank Giering) arrive the next day, but rather than assist K., who finds them indistinguishable, the incompetent duo, arriving without his apparatus, seem to hamper his every attempt to make contact with the Castle, and always seem to be following him around. Even when K. attempts to gain the influence of Frieda (Susanne Lothar), a barmaid who tells him she is the mistress of a prominent Castle official called Klamm, the hapless duo spy on him as he makes love to her behind the bar.
As a consequence, Frieda loses her position at the Herrenhof bar, and K., under pressure from his landlady, finds he has no option but to support her while he tries to find out what work he has been engaged by the Castle to carry out. Those instructions never seem to arrive, and indeed the Castle continually refuses, via letters and messages that Klamm’s assistant Barnabas (André Eisermann) communicates to K., to allow him entrance to the Castle. Frustrated, K. finds out from the Superintendent that the summoning of a Land Surveyor was an administrative error, and his services are no longer required. As no-one however is in a position to confirm his appointment or admit the error, K. finds himself in a curious position of having status but no position. With no other option – particularly as he is under pressure from Frieda and his landlady - K. accepts a lowly position as a janitor at the local school. His troubles with various women continually distract him from his task, and any attempt to approach and appeal to the Castle continue to be met with indifference, obstinacy and bogged down in bureaucratic red-tape.
As would be expected from the director at this point in his career, Haneke’s now familiar style is appropriate to the subject, adopting a neutral approach marked out by jump cuts to black screens. The gaps however are not Kafka’s - The Castle is perhaps the writer’s most fluid and consistent work, and only incomplete in that it never reached a conclusion. Haneke however makes use of his trademark method here rather to cut back on the length of certain scenes, excising a number of minor characters and reducing others - the landlady’s role is greatly reduced and it removes many of her and K.’s cross-purpose confrontations - but it matches the curious elliptical rhythms and the dreamlike passing of immeasurable periods of time in Kafka’s novel. Haneke of course fully exploits the fact that the novel is open and unfinished – as most of his own films are – taking pleasure in bringing the film to an unexpected conclusion as the end of the manuscript, even though it is not the one (again featuring the landlady) that finishes the novel. Haneke’s way of showing K. attempting to make headway against the constant grind of the machinery of bureaucracy and the petty social hierarchy, is to show him trudging repeatedly back and forth through the snow and howling winds, often in the dark.
It’s a perfectly adequate way to depict Kafka’s struggle of the individual to find their place in society, but it’s also a failure, as is any attempt to capture the essence of Kafka on the screen. The best any director can do with Kafka’s absurd, nightmarish and unfilmable works is find elements from them to incorporate into their own worldview - as in Soderbergh’s fun-but-missing-the-point Kafka – or vice-versa, as in Orson Welles’ ambitious, often impressive, but ultimately doomed adaptation and re-writing of The Trial. Haneke’s adaptation of The Castle is more literal and faithful to Kafka than either of those films, but he never makes it come alive or personal in the way that he can usually lift a storyline off the screen and into your own life. A narrator is used to maintain some of the authorial musings on the characters and their behaviour, but more often Haneke depicts events with neutrality and lack of comment, which allows him to capture Kafka’s sense of the absurdity of social behaviour, but fails to capture the complexity of the characters’ deeper striving for belonging and spiritual meaning. Haneke would achieve this element of humanity much more successfully in Time Of The Wolf, but, perhaps through the necessity of adaptation and simplification for television, he fails to do so here.
It was just a matter of time before Michael Haneke and Franz Kafka crossed paths. The Castle, the Austrian filmmaker's made-for-TV version of the Czech writer's famous unfinished novel, promises an intriguing meeting between these two dedicated misanthropes, yet despite the overlapping bleakness of their worldviews, the film is notable mostly as an example of how somebody can follow a work to the letter and still miss its essence. K. (Ulrich Mühe) comes in from the cold, summoned by the mysterious officials at "the Castle" to an isolated village for a position as land surveyor; instead he finds himself reluctantly engaged to forlorn barmaid Frieda (Susanne Lothar), saddled with a couple of dolts (Felix Eitner and Frank Giering) for assistants, and trudging in circles in the snow, helplessly trying to unscramble the tortuous snafu that's made him "superfluous and in everybody's way." Haneke's last Austrian picture before his departure to France and richer, less offensive films (The Time of the Wolf, Caché), The Castle is something of a companion piece to the director's deplorable, hectoring Funny Games, even bringing back the earlier film's tormented couple for another round of inexplicable distress. Haneke's arctic view of life and abrupt cuts to black come handy in capturing the apprehension of K.'s gnomic bureaucratic limbo, but his lack of humor hampers the story, trading Kafka's sardonic sense of the absurd for an icy blizzard blowing unendingly and unimaginatively. Still, whether due to the less directly personal nature of the project or to the limitations of TV production, the film exerts a less cruel, exacting grip than the usual Haneke vise. Indeed, next to the rigidity of The Seventh Continent and Benny's Video, it is not unlike the closet bulging with crumpled documents K. digs through at one point, and the resulting clutter has a surprising (and welcome) humanizing effect, a rare instance of Haneke recognizing his characters as something more than sacrificial lambs in a dreary world. If nothing else, the film offers the satisfaction of seeing Funny Games psycho Giering recast as a lummox pushed around by the man he previously terrorized, a derisive reversal of power Kafka surely would have dug.
Fernando F. Croce
Título Original: Das Schloss
Realização: Michael Haneke
Argumento: Michael Haneke, baseado na novella de Fank Kafka “Das Schloß”
Interpretação: Ulrich Mühe, Susanne Lothar, Frank Giering, Felix Eitner, André Eisermann. Nikolaus Paryla
Direcção de Fotografia: Jirí Stibr
Montagem: Andreas Prochaska
Ano de Estreia: 1997