Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life

Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life. That’s the catchy title of one of the best Christmas films you’ve (probably) never seen.

Via Open Culture:

Peter Capaldi is best known in the States for being the most recent actor to play Doctor Who. But did you know that he is also an Oscar-winning filmmaker? His brilliant short film Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life took the prize for Best Short Film in 1995.

Capaldi wrings a lot of laughs out of Kafka’s inability to figure out what Samsa should turn into. A giant banana? A kangaroo? Even when the answer is literally staring at him in the face, Kafka is hilariously obtuse.

Richard E. Grant stars as Kafka the Man but more so the Myth in this delightfully absurd take on the tortured Czech’s best-known work. Originally made for BBC Scotland, It’s The Night Before Christmas as few have ever imagined it as a wordsmith battles writer’s block and a bizarre collection of disturbances and intrusions as he struggles to write his piece’s opening line. Nothing works.

The film of course borrows one of its premises from the Frank Capra classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”, which suggest a happy ending awaits. Even that association came by an accident Kafka would likely approve of. Via’s December 2014 review:

Oddly enough, though, Capaldi’s film came about when his wife accidentally said in conversation “Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life” when she meant to say Frank Capra, the kind of slip of the tongue that many writers (including, no doubt, the Kafka portrayed in this film) would see as an accidental stroke of genius that gets the ball rolling.

Set aside 23 minutes tonight, gather family and friends, serve a drink or two, and set forth on a new holiday tradition. Happy Christmas. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

franz kafka’s it’s a wonderful life from sub rosa on Vimeo.

PS: If this link via Vimeo doesn’t work, try it on Daily Motion.


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  1. C. J. Hartwell says

    That was fantastic! Definitely adding it to the holiday viewing list.
    “Is this a real conversation or an imaginary one?”
    “Imaginary, of course.”
    “Oh good, because it was a wonderful party!”

    1. Bob R says

      That line cracked me up too. Reminded me that I’d had similar conversations. 🙂

  2. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says

    thanks, and i’ll watch this asap… have been w/o power five days.. all’s fixed and i’m about to return to the property.. will probably be offline until next week.

    feliz navidad, amigo! z

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks! And to you as well!

  3. SarahC says

    I was surprised it worked for me, this is different! Something new for us

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