Beyond The Screen Door

In a posting of approximately 300 to 400 words, agree and disagree with Miller’s review of the Kafkaesque rendition of The Metamorphosis.   You’ll need refer specifically to Miller’s article and to Soth’s film, using several quotations (properly cited) from either text to support your points.  Please also feel free to include your own opinions about the film; however, the focus of your post should be on Miller’s points.

The rubric is  /10 for content and /5 for citation format and grammar.  (Don’t even think of citing an in-text quotation improperly at this point in the course!)  Deadline is Friday, November 2nd by 9:20 a.m.


~ by Ms. Cox on October 28, 2012.

21 Responses to “Beyond The Screen Door”

  1. Behind the Screen Door was a unique film adaptation to Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Though there were some ideas that satisfactorily, most of the film was a difficult viewing.
    In the beginning, the imagery –namely that of Tom Gregor looking ‘trapped’– was effectual in portraying his state of mind and the way he was living. Eventually though, the repetitious imagery became somewhat overbearing. At times, less can be more. There was so much unnecessary emphasis placed on his feelings of entrapment that the significance of it became lost along the way.
    There is also something to be said about the script. It was terrible. Not only did the conversations go absolutely nowhere, they didn’t seem to have any significance to them. Furthermore, the acting was terrible. The actors and actresses were –for the most part– highly unconvincing in their respective roles which gave the dialogue even less meaning than it already had.
    As was pointed out in the review, “viewers may grow weary of [Tom’s] non-stop suffering” (Miller 2). In Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the reader was able to sympathize with his plight. However, Gregor’s character in the movie was a source of aggravation with his non-confrontational attitude.
    The video quality was less than stellar. The black and white film was intentionally made to “appear heavily worn” (Miller 3). Miller makes a good point when he wonders why a modern rendition would purposely go for such an old-looking appearance.
    The audio as well leaves something to be desired. Though it is considered ‘background music’ it often competed for attention over the dialogue. It consisted of a suite of incredibly similar piano pieces. Whereas most background music serves to add to the atmosphere of a scene, these piano pieces did not. They seemed somewhat out of place and yet at the same time, at home due to the random nature of the rest of the movie.
    The various aspects of the movie that were meant to add to the viewing experience more succeeded in making it extremely difficult to enjoy.


  2. Madelaine Legault
    Ms. Deborah Cox
    November 1st 2012

    ETS4U1: Thinking About A Cinematic Rendition of the Metamorphosis

    I really must say that reading Arthur Miller’s review of Behind the Screen Door is maddening. Miller provides a one-sided critique of Norith Soth’s Behind the Screen Door because it really only upbraids the technical aspects of the film. This negativity consumes the article, almost as if he has not viewed the film with an open mind. He seems to be too concerned with the technical quality of the production than the film itself and what it brings to Kafka’s audience.

    In his Video & Audio Quality section, he describes the video transfer as having, “black levels [that] are inconsistent, [an] image [that] is filled with dirt and scratches, and [an] overall softness leaves fine details out of the picture,” and continues with, “why would a so-called ‘modern retelling’ aim for such a worn-out appearance?” (Miller 3). I disagree with this view of Miller’s, not only because of his close-mindedness to the artistic qualities that the film delivers, but also because he seems to be fabricating the idea that the film was meant to be a modern retelling, whereas he had been the one to deem it so on the first page.

    While the visual effects really do create a confused setting in the film, they ultimately do not matter, as The Metamorphosis had intentionally been written without a clear setting to focus the story on the effect of having a ‘bug’ in the family, rather than in society. Gregor was not a ‘bug’ of society: he lead a fairly normal, middle class life as a human. He was a bug in the family, as he was the only independent one, the envied one. This is only an interpretation, of course, as is Miller’s review.

    I feel as though the uncleanliness and inconsistency of the filming would benefit from being interpreted differently than Miller had, either by being simply overlooked, or rather by being taken into consideration when absorbing the film’s meaning. For example, the visual qualities as described by Miller could demonstrate the need to look past appearances in order to see the truth—as mirrored by Gregor’s transformation in the story. It seems redundant to dismiss anything as meaningless while dealing with Kafkaesque material, and therefore Arthur Miller would better from seeing the film as one person’s interpretation, rather than “more pretentious than practical” (Miller 2).

    One of the only notations of Miller’s that I agree with is, “It seems to be his constant emasculation that drives [Gregor] towards solitude and triggers the drastic transformation,” though he does not see the importance of this, and therefore, of the film (Miller 2). Behind the Screen Door is necessary to the understanding of Gregor’s transformation as a result of his own mental and physical impotence, caused by his wish to be “gregarious” (as mentioned in the film). To those who have read The Metamorphosis, this adaptation is a fan-created prequel to the novella, which begins with the climax. It may be visibly low-budget, but it provides a unique insight into the character of Gregor, rather than the family. Kakfa’s novella focuses almost entirely on the family’s metamorphosis, leaving Gregor Samsa as a stock character. In Soth’s film, the family is stereotypically terrible, and even their non sequitur dialogue shows no depth to their persona; it focuses, rather, on Gregor, which is something the readers do not see in Kafka’s story. While I agree with Miller on that this story creates, “a more abstract and contemporary take on Kafka’s original,” I feel as though as the story progresses, it becomes it’s own rather than simply an “adaptation” (Miller 2).

    Behind the Screen Door deserves more praise than what Arthur Miller gives it. In fact, it seems to be treated in this review similarly to how Tom Gregor is; dismissed as nothing, until it gets ugly.

  3. Behind The Screen Door is a film adaptation by Norith Soth, of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Randy Miller has written a review on the film going over generally what he liked and didn’t like about the film; the video and audio quality; the menu design, presentation and packaging; the bonus features; and just a few final thoughts. I was not overly fond of this review because Miller immediately starts off negatively, not in the sense of criticism but rather the words he uses, then proceeds to basically say that the film is ‘worth a watch’, at the end. If he didn’t like it, he should have made it clear, if he did, he also should have made that clear. After reading his review, I honestly still do not know where he stands on the film. Though he does point out numerous strengths of the film, as a reader I felt that his words made it seem like he did not like it whatsoever. If anything ever was laced with negative connotations, this review certainly is the bench mark. One thing I could appreciate about this review was when Miller points out that we can really get inside Tom’s head thanks to this film. I found that Miller focused entirely too much on the technical aspects of the film. After all, the average viewer is not generally interested in what type of audio track is used.
    I felt the film veered too much from Kafka’s original novella and made it lose some intrigue and substance. Though the film did make the story lose something, it also added to the story by amplifying certain aspects that were more of an undertone, or down played, in the novella. This film does not portray Gregor (or Tom as he is in the film), as a bug whatsoever, but as a human the whole time. Though we never see Tom’s face after his transformation, Soth makes it evident to the viewer that Tom is still human through the use of shadows, and slight glimpses of his body. This film really stresses the idea that perhaps Tom always was a bug, not in a literal, but rather a metaphorical sense. It was through this film that I realized to Tom’s family, he was an insect, always squashed under their feet as they walked all over him, taking advantage of his generosity and stupidity. At one point Tom thinks to himself, “They probably think I’m totally worthless now” (Soth). The film emphasizes that Tom never realizes that to his family, he always was worthless, his money is what was worth something. Another aspect that the film really made stand out was the cruelty of Tom’s family towards him. The film really amplifies the family’s cruelty by showing Tom as a human, and them doing all of these cruel acts towards a human. I think it also helps to actually see the cruelty played out, instead of just reading it, because we tend to down play it in our heads. “He looks almost better” (Soth), is what Tom’s mother says when he finally dies, amidst a chorus of agreements and head shakes from his father and sister. Throughout the film each family member shows Tom cruelty, his father by throwing things at him, his sister with her words and actions, and his mother also with her words, as shown by the previous quotation. The fact of the matter is that no one in the family cares that Tom dies, and that is the ultimate example to their cruelty!
    I actually did really like this film, if not solely for the fact that it shows certain aspects of the novella in a new light. I would recommend that people read the novella before they watch the film, so there first perception of the book is not changed by their perceptions of the film. I guarantee that after watching the film, ideas will change, eyes will open, and thought provoking comments will most certainly be made.

  4. Lucas Diiorio
    Mrs Cox
    November 1st 2012

    A look into the weird world of Gregor Samsa…

    I agree with Randy Miller’s Review of Behind the Screen Door, the audio and video quality section in particular. The way the film is put together is extremely choppy and not very produced, along with awful quality, and grainy film appearance. Miller however, does mention that fact that Norith Soth could very well be going for that modern retelling but he also states “but why would a so-called ‘modern retelling’ aim for such a worn out appearance?” (Miller 3)
    A good aspect of the film is the framework and the showing or lack there of, of Gregor. Over the duration of the movie Gregor starts as a decently full framed shot, but as the movie progresses, he becomes less and less of a man, only showing face shots or even just his shadow towards the end of the film. Gregor is talking to his sister, about running away with him towards the end of the book, and he is not even shown as a person but a mere shadow, this is an amazing image of Gregor’s morality by the end of the film (Soth 1992).
    I really enjoy the title to this film Behind the Screen Door, because the physical and metaphorical closed door play a very important roll in the novella and film. In the film almost every door is closed, and if it is opened it is opened a miniscule amount and for only a moment. The properties of a screen door can even be seen in the film, grainy and hard to see clearly but you can still see what is going on. I really like the aspect that the title of the film brings to the way the movie is portrayed, and it is not a very large detail but there are countless connections to be made with the title of this film.

  5. After watching the film adaptation of The Metamorphosis, called Behind the Screen Door and reading Randy Miller’s review on the film I found that I was not the only one who found it difficult to watch, though I sometimes was unsure of whether he enjoyed the film or not. I do give the film’s director, Norith Soth brownie points for creativity, but the film really wasn’t something I could bear to watch again for a few reasons.
    While I was reading Millers article I found that I disagreed with a lot of what he said. In the first paragraph of his review he states that Tom “eventually succumbs to the shame and isolation caused by his terrible new identity” (Miller 1). I disagree because I believe that Tom was always isolated and ashamed because he never went out and had fun, had confidence in himself or anything, because he was always working and trying to give everything to his family. Miller also states later that the film adaptation “tweaks certain roles, personalities and events to suit the story” (Miller 1). Again, I disagree with Miller here. In the film, events, characters and personalities are changed drastically to fit the new demented story line. Furthermore, Miller states that when Tom’s father throws the apple at him it is “almost a mercy kill” (Miller 2). I do not think it was a mercy kill at all, the way it was portrayed in the film made it seem that his father was glad to do it and that it was fun. It seemed as if they wanted Tom to be gone because he was a burden to have in their home and by this point he was obviously not going to transform back into a normal human being, so they disposed of him because he became useless to them.
    In no way do I intend to undermine the films creativity, there are some aspects that were really neat. For example, the way the director filmed certain scenes through the bars and framed a shot to show how isolated Tom was, and made him blend in.
    I wish that the film had followed the story line that Kafka had written, I think that the story was outrageous enough and that the film had taken it too far. The outrageous plot, forced imagery, cut aways to random objects, and voice over’s are distracting and take away from the message of Kafka’s story. In the novella the family learns a lesson, and though you feel bad for Gregor [Tom], his death does not seem meaningless. The film didn’t seem to have a message and made Tom seem annoying and his death seemed like it was for nothing.
    I believe that Behind the Screen Door crossed the line of what is appropriate and what is not. Kafka’s novella is something interesting and has a message that should be understood and appreciated.

  6. Laura Jany
    Ms. Cox
    November 1, 2012

    Thinking About a Cinematic Rendition of The Metamorphosis

    The movie Beyond the Screen Door was an interesting cinematic rendition by Norith Soth of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Although a far cry from most mainstream Hollywood movies, the film had its good and bad. The poor acting skills and the script were bothersome, as parts of the film were taken too far to the point of confusion. The choppy black and white footage came off as awkward and amateur. The audio lacked variation as the same couple of piano pieces throughout the entire film were enough to drive one insane. Nevertheless, for those willing to observe Beyond the Screen Door openly and with insight, the character of Tom Gregor manages to fit the bizarre circumstances of Gregor Samsa in the novella. Tom’s weird transformation is matched by the family’s outlandishness, an added quality that was not present in The Metamorphosis. The dark humour aspect of the film was one of the only things the film had going for it that made it enjoyable to watch, in the way of Tom’s ignorance to how little his family and those around him appreciate him, as well as how he felt obliged to provide for them at all costs. The film brought to light that Tom’s unfortunate situation was as much his own doing as it was to blame on his surroundings. He lacks the ability to think for himself and thus becomes a slave to a life he did not choose while he “drowns into what he could have done.” (Soth 1997) There is a clear problem with Gregor’s thought pattern in that he cannot see the disservice his family is doing him, and the film Beyond the Screen Door manages to capture that. Another positive aspect of the film was the framing of shots. Filming through bars and window frames to give a sense of entrapment that aided in depicting Tom as an indecisive and stuck man. Comparing my thoughts on the film to that of another reviewer of the film; Randy Miller, I found myself to be on the same page. I could agree with his point that “this story is unabashedly odd and intriguing” (Miller 2) as well as his point on the editing being overly awkward. Miller may have missed some of the deeper aspects the film had to offer but I think he did a satisfactory job in summing it all up. All in all, I would classify Beyond the Screen Door as a onetime watch that was interesting to see but not something I would recommend to someone else unless they were studying Kafka; for without the knowledge of the novella the film would make absolutely no sense.


  7. I believe that Behind the Screen Door, the film adaptation to Kafka’s strange novella, the Metamorphosis, directed by Norith Soth, is more of a triumph than the review (written by Randy Miller) would lead you to believe. Randy Miller, it seems, lacks insight. He does not seem to comprehend underlying details except what he sees on screen; mostly the visual and technical aspects. He is quick to point out the obvious, but chooses not to give any further insight. “I’ve got to assume that this represents and intentional decision, but why would a so-called “modern retelling” aim for such a worn-out appearance?” (Miller 3) In this instance, he is questioning the reasoning behind the inconsistent black levels, the dirt filled images, and the softness that leaves details out of the picture, used by Norith Soth for this film adaptation. Randy Miller is constantly asking “why?” when he should be asking “why not?”. There is reasoning and a deeper meaning to most things, more than meets the eye, and although he does choose to state that he knows that all this was done purposefully, but says no more about the matter. In my opinion, Norith Soth did a better job with this film than most could ever hope. Kafka’s novella is meant to be an unsettling, strange, sad tale about a man who has transformed into this gigantic insect, and apart from the insect, all other unsettling elements are present. Randy Miller spends a brief page and a half summary of the film, but truly fails to bring across any in depth meaning behind the film. Or should I say Behind the Screen Door. Elements of importance I feel as though he should have mentioned would be : “Why was Tom never really an insect?” or “What is the significance of the odd camera angles?”. The review should have been more of a focus on breaking down the movie and trying to find the meaning behind everything. Miller made his review more of a criticism, in my eyes. This movie definitely deserves more praise than it has been given, and this review gives a very poor insight on the film.

  8. Franz Kafka’s quirky novella, The Metamorphosis is a brief tale that depicts the melancholy life of Gregor Samsa. The story begins with a description of Gregor, who has turned into an insect overnight. It is never clear as to how Gregor became a bug, or why he suddenly takes on such a grotesque form. The question as to “why” and “how” Gregor transformed are questions that both readers and critics have asked themselves for decades. And yet, one can never know the author’s true intentions; perhaps it is precisely this uncertainty that allows Kafka’s novel to be regarded as unique.

    Similarly, the 1992 film Behind the Screen Door is an adaptation of The Metamorphosis, and appears at first to be quite an odd version of the novel. Viewers who are familiar with the novella may find that the movie offers a completely different perspective than the original text. Upon reading the Randy Miller review on the film, it is clear that he finds many aspects of the film to be unnecessary. However, many of these camera angles that Miller finds to be pretentious actually help to relay the message of the story. The title character, Tom Gregor (the modern day Gregor Samsa) is a young man who supports his entire family by working at a job that he desperately loathes. Director Norith Soth includes many scenes in which Tom is publicly humiliated in front of his family and acquaintances, and emphasizes the worthlessness that is associated with not only the movie character, but the Gregor from the novel as well. The visual that one gains from this alternate story is helpful in discovering some elements of the novel that one may have missed. Although Miller declares that viewers are sure to “…grow weary of [Tom’s] non-stop suffering”(Miller 2) it is almost strange to point that out as a flaw. The fact that Tom’s pathetic life is reiterated through every possible media technique allows the viewer to experience the same feeling of worthlessness. It certainly adds an insightful twist on the novel, as the physical effects of strain can be portrayed, and not simply imagined. Although the movie appears to have low budget, and is perhaps a bit confusing, it is quite biased of Miller to claim that the movie was bad, because it achieved what it was made to achieve; the message of the book was conveyed to the viewer. There are many scenes in the movie that portray Tom as a prisoner in his own house, as he is framed between jail-like objects and railings at every possible moment. Likewise, the ridiculous opinions of his parents and his sister are a “constant emasculation that drives Tom toward solitude and triggers the drastic transformation”(Miller 2). The movie allows for a direct insight as to where Tom’s problems begin. It is evident through the movie that his family is the sole cause of his low self-worth, and ultimately stimulates his awkward social tendencies.

    An added benefit of the films also includes a voice over, which allows for a perspective on Tom that is conveyed to the audience. This allows one to understand what the story is about, and accounts for the feelings of Tom. This voice over also symbolizes the fact that Tom has no voice throughout and, even though the story is in fact about him, Tom does not even get to discuss his own personal struggles. Although the voice over is described as “…more pretentious than practical”(Miller 2), it definitely allows the viewer to understand the important components of the story, and clarifies many of the characteristics that are not as obvious while reading the novel. In a way, many of the scenes that appear to be overdone actually contribute to the central message. Tom Gregor’s sister, Theresa, is forced to find a job because Tom is unable to work. Oddly enough, she “…turns to prostitution as the family’s money quickly dries up”(Miller 2). It is ironic that the parents feel gratitude toward their daughter, who finds an extremely degrading job as a prostitute, while the entire family feels Tom is worthless and embarrassing. Mr and Mrs Gregor are unaware that the occupation of a hooker is something that is generally frowned upon, yet they take no notice and appear to encourage their daughter as she pursues this career. In contrast, they seem to resent their son’s success, and instead feel that he is shameful toward the family because he can no longer provide for them. Although it is obvious that the film was bizarre, it was able to effectively convey the same message that Kafka’s novel did, simply in a different way. However, the true intentions of author and director are unknown, and the message that the viewer finds when watching or reading will be unique in respect to each person. It is ultimately the vague meaning that produces a good story and allows for the viewer to interpret the meaning for themselves. Therefore, it is extremely biased of Miller to express his distaste toward a movie, based solely on the effects, or lack of them. Ultimately, the movie allowed the viewer the luxury of forming their own opinion, and Miller fails to see this aspect, which gives one the right to harbor some passive aggressive feelings toward a man hiding behind a sheet of paper whilst calling himself a movie critic.

  9. I found that the film, Behind the Screen Door, was a good, yet loose adaptation of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Though there may be many criticisms about the film, I would like to expose some of it’s more redeeming qualities. I found that this film did a good job in portraying Gregor Samsa’s, (or Tom Gregor’s) family. Where it was difficult to understand the reactions and lifestyle of Gregor’s family in the novella, the film showed a view of how the family could act the way they did with no remorse, and live their parasitic lives. Miller states that “ [Tom’s] Self-absorbed family members still ridicule Tom while depending on him to pay the bills” (Miller 2).Though this may have been overdone in the film, what with Gregor giving up his trip to Hawaii and still being called belligerent by his family, and many other things, it was a good adaptation of how Gregor interacted with his family. It shows very clearly how Gregor comes forward with information and news in the hopes that it will make his family love him or earn him respect, but as we see, the more Gregor tries to earn his family’s love and respect, the less it gets him. His family treat him as if it is his responsibility to give up his life to them, and that not even sickness or death is an excuse to neglect giving them all of the things that they believe they deserve.
    In Randy Miller’s review of the film, he says that “It seems to be his [Tom’s] constant emasculation that drives Tom towards solitude and triggers the drastic transformation.” (Miller 2). I agree with this, because even when Tom tries desperately to succeed in human communication, and to make his voice, opinions, and feelings heard by the people around him, he fails, resulting in him reverting back to his compliant self, desperate for acknowledgement. Tom is unable to stand up to either his family, or his boss, and therefore recedes into himself, further making communication impossible. Where Miller states that “Viewers may grow weary of his [Tom’s] non-stop suffering” (Miller 2), I disagree, instead believing that his suffering is not needlessly repeated, but that his constant chastisement is showing his descent into hopelessness from where he will find he need to escape. His inability to communicate can be connected to the Metamorphosis when Gregor loses the ability to form human speech, which subsequently leads his family to believe that he has lost his humanity. Communication, actions and reactions, are a key point in both Behind the Screen Door, and The Metamorphosis.
    Miller also goes on to say that “The overly awkward editing — and vocal dubbing, on some occasions — may lead first-time viewers scratching their heads” (Miller 2), and that the “peppered voice-over narration leads us around by the nose before abandoning us to the film’s unnatural structure” (Miller 2). I agree that the films structure was abnormal, but after getting used to it, I no longer found that it took away from the film. If anything, it’s awkward flashes and editing added to the overall awkwardness of the story and it’s unrealistic simplicity. Plus, when the conversations took unnecessarily long amounts of time, it was entertaining to attempt to decipher the directors meaning behind the placement of the camera, or what’s going on in the background. I would recommend this film to people who have read The Metamorphosis.

  10. Jade Bedesky
    Ms Cox
    November 2nd, 2012

    Within the Filmverse of The Metamorphosis

    Norith Soth’s Beyond the Screen Door is an incredibly messy movie which attempts to modernize Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, but fails miserably. As Randy Miller states in his review, “Behind the Screen Door has a number of successful elements…and a few not-so-successful ones” (Miller 2). I wholeheartedly disagree with Miller as I feel that almost every aspect of the movie was unsuccessful, and any good intentions the director had are drowned out by the blatant and forced imagery. I find it insulting for Miller to compare the mind behind the movie to the cinematic geniuses that are David Cronenberg, David Lynch, and especially Terry Gilliam, just as Kafka would likely be insulted by nature of Beyond the Screen Door in comparison with his original novella.
    The volume levels in the movie are way off and, as a result, the characters are often drowned out by the unneeded piano pieces or are simply unable to be heard as they are not in reach of the microphone. The white balance and black levels are both inconsistent which causes the brightness to vary, and the choppy editing job leaves viewers wondering how much hacking was done on purpose and how much was a mistake. Miller describes the technical presentation as being “highly questionable” (Miller 4), which is the kindest way to hint at how terrible it is. While I congratulate Miller on taking the time to explore the technical side of the movie, as reviewers don’t often do so in so much detail, it angers me that he spent nearly his entire review talking about things such as the menu screen and packaging.
    The structure of the movie is quite confusing and it left me with a feeling of uncertainty over the order in which the main events took place. As Randy Miller describes in his review, “Our story jumps between Tom’s former life and his new identity, creating a more abstract and contemporary take on Kafka’s original,” (Miller 2). While Soth made an honourable attempt to get creative with the format of his movie, the end product does nothing to help its cause, and only leaves more negativity for the audience to feel towards such a sorry excuse for a film. The dialogue seems to have been written to spoonfeed the audience an automatic dislike of the family, which destroys the intricate character development so delicately laid out by Kafka in The Metamorphosis. The characters are empty, the actors are bad, and audience members could get more out of watching the reactions of someone reading the novella than watching Soth’s movie.
    Beyond the Screen Door is a disgusting rendition of a classic story which provides so much potential for a film adaptation. Randy Miller could not even get the title of the movie right during his review, as he continuously switched between Beyond and Behind the Screen Door. The length of the movie should leave the audience wanting more, however, it instead had me impatient for the ending. I do not feel as if it provided a new perspective in which to view Kafka’s work, but only that it should never have been made in the first place.

  11. The Metamorphosis by Fraz Kafka is a work that can be open to much interpretation, which was willingly done by Norith Soth’s film adaptation, Beyond the Screen Door. Randy miller’s review of Beyond the Screen Door lacks quite a bit of detail and I disagree with most of what he says about the film.
    Randy Miller’s review of Kaftka’s The Metamorphosis states that “Beyond the Screen Door should sit fairly well with fans of Kafka” (Miller 2), yet I cannot help but disagree with this. I found that the film was simply too “unabashedly odd” (Miller 2) for fans of Kafka’s original work to enjoy it. The references to The Metamorphosis were far too blatant and stuck out from the general plot of the film for fans of Kafka to appreciate them. For example, when Tom’s father dresses up in the pitcher’s outfit and throws the apple at Tom with the roaring cheers of a stadium full of fans behind him is too obviously an attempt to parallel the scene in The Metamorphosis and makes the viewer cringe at the desperate stab at connecting the Norith’s movie to Kafka’s novella. Miller made a good point of criticizing the constant emasculation of Tom. It all seems quite forced and too repetitive as his boss, family, and love interests frequently makes fun of Tom and especially when his mother states to Tom, “you don’t have any friends” (Soth 1992). I cannot help but agree with Miller that Soth made his point and then continued to hammer home that Tom was not respected by anyone least of all himself. One point that I feel Miller should have paid more attention to the classical music and its importance. Miller speaks only of the “music often fight[ing[ for attention” (Miller 3). The lively and at times furious piano music provides a stark contrast with the mellow, resigned mood of Tom’s everyday life. It seems that Miller was too afraid to provide an interpretation of what the piano could represent since there are so many possibilities. The most likely of many possibilities would be that of the mentality of the outside world, or more specifically the mentality of the outside world which Tom deems unimportant is translated in piano music. The importance of the piano is highlighted due to the fact that Tom’s sister plays piano, and the opinions of his sister are often fights to destroy Tom’s very existence.

  12. Behind the Screen Door

    This film rendition of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a very bizarre take on the novella. When reading the book I found that the sister was sweet, and the family was harsh and blind to all that Gregor gave to them, but alas they appear to be more sinister in Norith Soth’s film. I found it very strange how we never saw Tom, the main character in the film, change fully into a bug. Because the plot jumped between the past and the present, I felt that it made the film somewhat confusing for viewers. I believe that if we had seen more than shadows of Tom’s transformation, the film could have been credited to higher degree. At the end of the film, after the father has hit Tom with an apple, the audience finally believes that they will get to see the bug, but for some reason Tom is still human and just has an apple wedged into his throat. This leads me to question whether or not Tom even turned into a bug at all. There is barely any evidence within the film to suggest that he does.
    In Miller’s review he says, “Behind the Screen Door should sit fairly well with fans of Kafka” (2). However, I do not think that this film gave Kafka’s novella justice. I found that the movie was extremely depressing and the characters were very frustrating. At the beginning of the film, it cuts to a shot of the entire family gathered around a table talking, and Tom expresses how he won a free trip to Hawaii. The family is very excited by this news, and immediately believes that they will be the ones going. Tom doesn’t even have a chance to ask them to go, or tell them they cannot. They just make the assumption that they will be going. Their extreme selfishness is made evident when the sister says that she wants her boyfriend to go, and that her boyfriend should go instead of Tom. The parents do not even seem to be fazed by this and continue to say, “of course he doesn’t mind” (Soth 1992). Tom cannot speak for himself, despite the fact that he provides all the money for the family, and should be the commander. Although the novella has similar aspects to it, Norith Sloth takes the film to an entirely new level. Everything that the family does is ridiculous and over the top.

    What I did enjoy about this version of the story it that “we really get inside Tom’s head for the duration of this film” (Miller 2). With that being said, it gives us a better look at the character of Tom/Gregor than the novella does. I dislike the parents very much. Their cruel laugh when Tom was in a car accident was so maniacal and I find that I don’t have any respect for them in the slightest. However, I found that I felt extremely sorry for the children, as they both accept the life that they think they deserve. They believe that what their family has is normal because they have always been ‘Behind the Screen Door’. Before the father kills his son with an apple, he says to Tom, “You’ve caused enough pain and suffering in this family” (Soth 1992). But is it not the parents who are the cause of the family’s sorrows, and warped idea of life that they have bestowed upon their children? The daughter has sold herself to prostitution when Tom turns into a bug, and the parents do not even bat an eyelash. It cuts to a shot where Tom is alone in his room and he says, ”if I could get out, I would” (Soth 1992). The saddest part of that sentence is that he means trying to get back to being human and not getting out of the house where he has been suffering for so many years.

    Ultimately, the film portrayed the novella in a harsher light. Just as Miller touches on, it had disadvantages and advantages. I enjoyed that we got to see into Tom/Gregor’s head more, but mostly everything else was overdone and gruesome.

  13. Upon viewing “Behind the Screen Door” and reading Randy Miller’s insightful review of the film, I find myself agreeing, for the most part, with Miller’s thoughts and opinion. The Metamorphosis, the original novella, and inspiration for Behind the Screen Door, remains as one of the most praised and acclaimed pieces of literature. Rightfully so, I deeply appreciated Kafka’s novella for its ruthless manner and sinister storytelling. Having so much respect for the novella itself, I was skeptical going in to the film.
    The title immediately drew me in, as it is such an eerie and fitting name for the film. It seems Miller and I agreed that the film strays from the novella and what sets it apart is the “relatively loose translation” (Miller 1). I also concurred with his theory that it is “essentially a modern retelling” (Miller 1), as the characters and technology seem newer than what felt like what was available in the era of the Metamorphosis. The novella strongly emphasized hobbies like reading the newspaper and knitting whereas in the film the characters regularly watch television and use a telephone in their leisure time. What opinion I strongly disagree with, is Miller’s statement that the film “should sit fairly well with Kafka” (Miller 2). It’s true that “the foundation remains similar” (Miller 2), there is a transformation and this leads to a metamorphosis of the characters. Unfortunately, the film just takes so many risks and abnormal interpretations that devoted Kafka followers may be turned off by how much is changed. That is not to say that this film cannot be enjoyed, but I’m positive that some of the Kafka purists will scoff at some of the strange and rather odd changes. One change being the notorious apple injury, which is so over the top that it almost takes away from the dark setting.
    It’s not hard to agree with Miller’s speculation of the technical side of things. The film struggles with audio dubbing and has an immense amount of screen tearing which while intentional, the “worn-out appearance” (Miller 3) puzzled myself and Miller when the modern style was apparent and heavily implied. The movie does although portray some intriguing ideas as the majority of the film is flashbacks of Tom as a human, something never seen or read before as he was a beetle throughout the novella. Seeing his human side really makes the film stand out from the novella and adds fascinating twist to the plotline. Viewers can really understand how Tom “tortures himself” (Soth 1992) and understand how parasitic his family his when he is in human form.
    The music is also worth noting as the film seems to have only one track which, while memorable, seems to only add to the bizarre and eerie direction. Camera angles also play a significant role as they are often skewed to one side or just give the viewer an obscure angle. Sometimes these shots are used too often and are almost too noticeable. The sense of entrapment almost seems forced and too apparent sometimes.
    For me, Behind the Screen Door is a mixed- feelings experience. The film is plagued with mediocre to poor acting; lackluster dialogue and a few odd direction choices, but these are aspects of an independent, low budgeted film. It is certainly not a film that will appeal to everyone but it is worth watching for Kafka fans as whether it will be enjoyed or not, offers a striking twist and a new perspective. This adaptation will open the eyes of some viewers and perhaps make them go through a metamorphosis of their own.

  14. Allie Osman
    Ms. Cox
    ETS 4U1-01
    November 2nd 2012

    Norith Soths’s, Beyond the Screen Door is an interesting and disturbing rendition on Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis. Throughout the movie there were good aspects that captured the novella great yet most of the movie was not appealing. The movie follows a thin line of the story in the Novella but the things they added in as their own just took Kafka’s ideas to far. The Movie was inappropriate and weird and if I was Kafka I would be mortified if this is what someone made my book into. The script in the movie was horrific and it wasn’t just because of the bad acting. The words that came out of the actor’s mouths were not significant to the movie or the novella.
    Randy Miller who wrote a review on the movie that also has some interesting comments towards the movie but I do not agree with most of them. As much as I did not enjoy the movie, I enjoyed the way they filmed it and the artistic aspects of it. Randy Miller states in the section Video & Audio Quality, “Why would a so called “modern retelling” aim for such a worn out appearance” (Miller 3)? Miller obviously does not understand artistic abilities in film and is not open minded towards the way they filmed it. They had creative ways of showing Tom behind poles or in frames in which he looks trapped or imprisoned, which has significance in the book. One of the only things I actually agree with the review is that we really get to see inside Tom’s (the main character’s) head (Miller 2). That aspect in the movie makes you understand what Tom is going through better, even though it did not follow the same experiences in the book.
    Overall, I did not enjoy the movie very much since it was insignificant to the book and was too inappropriate in most aspects. Randy Miller’s article though is too critical on the aspects that actually were decent in the movie in which I don’t agree with his opinions. I think if you read the book and enjoyed it, you should just leave it at that.

  15. I agree with Randy Miller on the fact that you should only rent the movie Beyond the Screen Door. The movie was a modern day retelling of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, although I did not agree with a lot of the things that were added to the movie. I agree with Miller when he says on page one of the article when he says that the modern retelling is a loose translation with this film. There were a lot of things in the movie that were changed from what happens in the book. Like the fact that Gregor’s sister plays the piano instead of the violin and plays it horribly is the complete opposite as to what happens in the book. Gregor’s sister has a great talent with the violin in the book, that is why he wants to send her to the conservatory of music so she can further showcase her talents and one day make something of herself in the music world. “We really get inside Toms’ head for the duration of this film…” (Miller 2). I agree whole heartedly with this. Almost the entire movie is seen through the first person eyes of Tom, as the bug and the past when he was a human. One thing that I did not agree with at all which is more on the director is the way that he portrayed the apple incident. In the book it is a simple scene with the apple getting thrown, stuck and eventually infecting the bug. Whereas in the movie they portray it with the dad dressed in a baseball uniform and he then pitches the apple like a baseball. This totally ruined the entire movie for me. It was a totally ridiculous, unnecessary scene. In my mind it was just so far off from the book that it felt like the director did not even read the novella first hand. If I were Franz Kafka, I would be rolling over in my grave at the fact that his greatest known work is being retold completely backwards of how he wrote it originally. I do also agree with Miller when he says other elements don’t seem to add up, like the awkward editing and voice over narration. Some of the editing makes it hard to understand what the actors are saying and the story hard to follow. The scenes like the one where Tom is in the car with the Girl and the voices do not match up with the lips, it makes it incredibly distracting and leaves us as viewers confused as to why it was left like that. Overall the movie left me and other viewers with a headache and searching for answers to all our questions. If someone asked me to recommend this my answer would be a simple no. If you are really in need of seeing this then again I say: rent it.

  16. The film version of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Beyond the Screen Door, was an exaggerated adaptation of the novella. Although the film highlighted the main points of the novella, it did so in a way that was overly dramatic and completely unbelievable. The way that Soth decided to interpret The Metamorphosis almost ruined the story line completely. A combination of bad acting, as well as unbelievable adaptions of events in the novel all contributed to the atrociousness of the film.
    Although the film was a strange adaptation of the novella, I found that the insight into Gregor’s life before his transformation was a redeeming quality. The look we get at Gregor’s life gives us an understanding of how he was treated and a possible reason as to why he transformed. Randy Miller states in his article that: “It seems to be his constant emasculation that drives Tom toward solitude and triggers the drastic transformation (Miller 2). Throughout the film it is made clear that Gregor is constantly being made to feel as though he is never good enough, whether it be by his parents, his sister, or his boss. The continual efforts made by Tom to please his family only result in him being told he is not good enough. This could have easily caused him to transform, making him believe that he was worth nothing more than a bug to his family.
    The exaggerated situations, such as the argument over the trip to Hawaii, although ridiculous, help us to understand just how unappreciated Tom really is. His sister goes as far as to call him selfish for wanting to go in place of her boyfriend, even though Gregor was the one that won the tickets. His mother says to him: “We’re doing you a favour. It’s not as though you have any friends,”(Soth 1992). The family acts as though they are doing Tom a great service by going to Hawaii for him, and criticize him for wanting to go. This situation further shows that Gregor is nothing to his family but a source of money. He provides them with a lifestyle they enjoy, and they do not thank him even once throughout the film. The way in which Soth portrayed the Samsa family throughout these acts was somewhat unbelievable, but got the main idea of a lack of appreciation across.
    Beyond the Screen Door was an incredibly bizarre adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Although redeeming in some aspects, the film was much too far fetched for me to enjoy. The horrible acting skills and exaggerated situations with which Gregor is faced, all contribute to the film’s lack of appeal to me.

  17. I found Miller’s review of Soth’s film, Behind The Screen Door, to be quite interesting indeed. Reading it really helped me put a lot of my thoughts into actual words, seeing how I didn’t exactly hate the film, I just felt it was very hard to follow and or keep interested in it because of certain aspects of the film.

    The first thing to catch my eye while reading Miller’s review was when Miller had mentioned the “the overly awkward editing—and vocal dubbing, on some occasions—may lead first-time viewers scratching their heads (yes, it’s all part of the show)” (Miller, 2). The reason for this popping out at me first was because while watching Soth’s film I did realize the awkward vocal dubbing here and there and it did really throw me off and leave me wondering if that was intentional or just bad editing on his part. As well as Miller, I also felt as if it was a weak aspect of the film, it just didn’t fit well seeing how “it’s essentially a “modern retelling”” (Miller, 1). It just was not one of his stronger elements in the movie.

    The only strong point that Miller had mentioned that I agree with is that, “we really get inside Tom’s head for the duration of the film” (Miller, 2). I strongly agree with this seeing how I prefer’d this aspect of the film more than the novella. Though I did feel more sympathy for character in Metamorphosis, and was more frustrated with Tom in the film, I liked that a lot more. I prefer’d that even though I didn’t exactly like the character in the film, I liked that I could see more into his thoughts and his life around him before the whole ugly transformation he went through. It really helped me understand the character a lot more than I did in the Kafka’s novella.

    Though I may not have loved this film, I did not hate it either, I agree with Miller when he says that Soth’s film has it’s strong points but it also has it’s big downfalls that did not help it’s structure or help me follow along or stay interested for the most part.

  18. Shauna Wright
    Ms Cox
    2 November 2012

    Film-Novella Comparison of Franz Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’

    ‘Behind the Screen Door’, Norith Soth’s film rendition of Franz Kafka’s, ‘The Metamorphosis’, was a unique interpretation of the novella. I felt that Norith Soth’s unique twist was quite irritating to say the least.

    As Randy Miller states in his review of the film, it is a relatively loose translation, Soth making it into a “modern retelling” that tweaks certain roles, personalities and events to suit the story (Miller 1). I found that the alteration of the characters portrayed in the film were profusely overdone and unnecessary. Gregor was renamed as Tom, which I thought contributed to a loss in effect of his character; the name change was unnecessary because something as simple yet complex as his name tells us everything about him. I thought that renaming Gregor to Tom separated the film from the novella too much. His mother, father and sister’s personalities were overblown and came across as fake on screen. I felt that a lot of the dialogue that was used in the film came across as fake because a lot of people in the real world don’t speak as they did while having a conversation. The dialogue was extremely bizarre which made me quite angry having to listen to the characters speak!

    Soth included some accurate elements from the novella in his film rendition. Tom’s family uses and controls him, but I felt that again it was too overdone. For example, when Tom wins a trip to Hawaii, which he intends to go on, his family takes the tickets from him and almost insists that he doesn’t come along. Tom’s mother even says, “Of course of he doesn’t mind,” when his sister asks to bring along her boyfriend at the time instead of Tom (Soth 1992). It showed how self-absorbent the family was and how they thought that their needs were always more important than Tom’s, which was evident in the novella as well. Tom was portrayed as a recluse, using phone sex to fill the emptiness in his life. He also read J.D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, a clear representation of Tom’s loneliness and isolation from the rest of the world (Soth 1992).

    The technical aspects of the film were inconsistent and distracting. I felt as though the black-and-white technique drew away from the story itself because of the distraction it created. I had a hard time looking past the inconsistent levels and grainy picture to really focus myself on the already bizarre film. The worn out appearance was presumably intentional, but why Soth decided to use such a visually unappealing technique in a modern retelling is an aspect of the film I can’t figure out. The audio isn’t any better; lacking range and action that essentially takes away the film, as the audience has such a difficult time attempting to hear any sound at all. As Miller states in his review, the dialogue is thin and the music often fights for attention (Miller 3).

    Soth’s film rendition of Franz Kafka’s novella was too overdone, bizarre and visually unappealing. There are certainly elements that were accurate to the novella, but as an overall film it was cheap and unbelievable. I feel that Soth’s interpretation of Kafka’s novella was ineffective and an insult to Kafka’s work, which is why this film should not have been made.

  19. In Miller’s article he argues that the 1992 film Beyond the Screen Door is a unique representation of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis yet it omits significant elements of the original story. I completely agree with this argument because although Soth portrays a new angle of the story some elements of the production like imagery or the poor written screenplay become overbearing and repetitious.
    Miller states that the production “is essentially a ‘modern retelling’ that tweaks certain roles, personalities and events to suit the story” (Miller,1). Norith Soth the director of Beyond the Screen Door makes significant changes to the main characters in order to appeal to the audience. He ultimately abolishes their original importance and recreates them to better suit his interpretation of Metamorphosis. Some examples of the changes are that Tom’s sister is not compassionate or caring towards her brother and the cause of Tom’s death is not starvation but an ‘apple infection’ that dooms him into a mercy killing.
    What I do not like about the movie is that the viewer never sees Tom as bug they only see his shadow. This deliberately takes away the overall significance of the theme that social pressures force people to transform into insects and abolishes the fact that Tom Gregor became a bug. Another point that Miller makes is that “the music often fights for attention” (Miller, 3). I found that the music was very overpowering and unnecessary in many cases. It distracts the viewer from developing a connection with the characters because they often pay more attention to the loud and abrupt piano playing as opposed to the dialogue.
    Although I think that the effective use of technical camera angles furthers the overall theme of Tom’s entrapment, it is often distracting. In Miller’s article he comments on the same distraction when he says: “The overuse of symbolism, awkward editing, peppered voice narration is distracting enough to feel more pretentious than practical”(Miller, 2). Overall I feel as though Soth tries too hard to use symbolism in the film that it is too obvious and overpowering to the viewer. I believe that there is a good amount of symbolism in Kafka’s story to restraint Soth from incorporating numerous different forms of the theme of entrapment throughout the film.
    The film is ultimately an interesting take on Kafka’s Metamorphosis however, I find that the overuse of symbolism, the alterations of characters and the overpowering of music makes it difficult for the viewer to develop a connection with the characters and appreciate the overall significance of the story.

    Sydney Blackmore

  20. Hannah Hughes
    Ms. Cox
    ETS 4U1-01
    November 2, 2012

    Kafka’s Metamorphosis has been adapted by Norith Soth in a short film called Beyond the Screen Door. Produced in 1992 which is only true if you believe the cover of the film according to a film review by Randy Miller, who believes “…the film’s 1994 release date was off by by a few years” (Miller, 1). There are many opposing views throughout the review about what the movie takes claim to including the accusation on the cover art. “This releases’ cover art trumpets Norith Soth’s Beyond the Screen Door as the first filmed adaptation of Kafka’s tale… A handful of TV and film adaptations were found with minimal research” (Miller, 1). After reading Millers review its difficult to not see the film adaptation of The Metamorphosis through his eyes. As the review begins with showing the faults of the film it makes it difficult to put any faith in the film.

    The film adaptation of the Metamorphosis is an exploitation of the novella; it does not embody the main aspects in the film but exploits the most ascetic aspects in the film. The film is an adaptation of the novella, so it does not take every point that is written about by Kafka. The film takes the visually appealing scenes such as the apple scene which in the novella strikes a strong mental picture. The review speaks of the idea that we really can use the film to get inside Tom’s head, this is true but I believe that getting inside of Tom’s head does not help us to better understand the novella. The character in the novella is not the same character that we know in the novella, the film exploits this character that we believe he is suppose to be. Gregor in the novella is a quiet and passive character, he deals with unspeakable hardship but never gets involved in his own affairs. Which is not the character we see in the film. Tom (Gregor) in the film does try to take control, placing his own idea’s on the table but never backs them up. The film exploits the male character and animalistic nature that we are lead to believe that Tom encompasses. The beast hidden within.

    I believe from both the reading and the film the family always wanted Tom dead, even when he was alive and the provider for the whole family his own family always wanted him dead. In the film version it is very evident what the family expects from Tom. No matter what Tom does or what successes he has the family expects him to give up any rewards that come to him. Such as his trip to Hawaii he has four tickets, enough to take him and three others. His family assumes that they are going with him, and in the film even try to elbow Tom out of the way. Tom’s own mother encouraging his sister to leave Tom behind “Why don’t you ask Tom to work some overtime and we’ll go” (Soth, 1992). This attitude is continued throughout the film and noticed in the review as well “Self-absorbed family members ridicule Tom while depending on him to pay the bills” (Miller, 2). The family though always relying on Tom to pay the bills and support their extravagant lifestyle, but never wanting him to be a living part of their lives.

  21. Gabrielle Doak
    Ms. Cox
    ETS 4U-01
    November 3 2012

    Beyond the screen door is the movie rendition of Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis. To a viewer that has read the novella, it is very clear that Beyond the Screen door takes on a different perspective, and adds a lot of aspects to the story that were not present in the text. Randy Miller makes a lot of interesting points about the film, and I found that I shared similar thoughts on the movie.
    The one thing that I found to be accurate to the novella was the characters and the roles they played throughout the story. The movie gives us an accurate insight into the Samsa family dynamics. We are able to see how the family treats Gregor (Tom) more accurately. Randy Miller states that the movie really lets us into Tom’s head. I believe that the movie gives us insight on Gregor’s suffering that we did not see in the novella, even though it was narrated by him.
    Randy Miller’s most interesting critiques of the film touch on the editing of the film. I found it very hard to follow the movie for many reasons that deal with the editing of the film. The black and white appears worn and is inconsistent, causing the image to be difficult to make out at times. Randy Miller mentions that the movie is said to be a “modern retelling” and he questions the need for the black and white. Another thing he mentions is the overly awkward editing and the odd camera angles, that make it hard to concentrate on what is happening in the film. One of the points I’d have to agree with most is that the music fights for the attention at times. There were many times throughout the film where the music became loud and distracting and very unnecessary.
    All in all I did not think the film was accurate to the novella. The story line was similar but there were a lot of unnecessary scenes that gave the story a completely different feel. I would not recommend this film to someone who has not read the novella because it took away from the important message that Kafka displayed in the novella, and created a completely different story.

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