TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT September 1984

ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERIKA: STRAUB/HUILLET/KAFKA

Even the loveliest dream bears like a blemish its difference from reality, the awareness that what it grants is mere illusion. This is why precisely the loveliest dreams are as if blighted. Such an impression is captured superlatively in the description of the nature theatre of Oklahoma in Kafka’s Amerika.

Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia

When relating an event someone sometimes says: “Words cannot describe it.” . . . The Straubs have filmed a text by Kafka and they say clearly: "Film cannot describe it.”

Harun Farocki

POPULATED BY SLY VAGABONDS and implacable cops, immigrant proles and enigmatic plutocrats, Franz Kafka’s Amerika is a land of arbitrary good fortune and sudden exploitation, at once a theater of comic cruelty—with vast cities, country estates, and imposing hotels serving as backdrops for grotesque reversals or slapstick chases—and a dream of redemption. While writing the

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