Up until recently I had never seen Citizen Kane in toto.I had seen bits of it here and there in arts classes and on TV.After watching this movie and reflecting I can only envision one man that could ever had played this part to perfection and that was Orson Welles himself.This movie is as much autobiographical as it is biographical,that is there is as much Welles in this picture as Hearst.From what little I have read on both subjects over the years it is amazing how much these two men had in common in real life in their personalities and their subsequent dealings in whatever concerns were of most importance to them at any given moment.It was almost art imitating life imitating art.
But in 1941 both came together in one glorious time which would never be repeated.The picture earned Welles and company I believe around 10 OSCARS(if memory serves) of which only one was issued denying Welles his just due.Hearst had won the battle but in the end Welles won the war.
On further reflection another thing that very much jumped out at me as I viewed this film was the cinematograpy.The camera work was phenomenal.The lighting,the angles and the placement of shots added totally to the entire feel and execution of this picture.
And another aspect that I noticed was the editing.Of course as Welles controlled just about every aspect of the picture this,I would assume,could also be laid at his feet.But take for example a scene which involves Kane and his first wife.It lasts about five minutes in all but it shows them sitting at either end of a large table.Through several dissolves we see Kane and his wife going from a newly happily married couple to two distant and cold individuals.Brilliantly done.
Technically this picture has been cleaned to perfection.It is a fine transfer.There are two discs here,one has the movie along with clips from the original trailer and opening night,a short interview with a co-star and two different commentaries.The second contains a special which(again) I only saw part of a few years back on PBS called:"The Battle for Citizen Kane",which was part of the American Experience series.You will notice that this disc alone is for sale so it is worth every penny to be included in this set.
All in all I highly recommend this set to everyone.I have really no complaints in any department.While I don't think this is THE greatest movie ever made,I do believe it is one of the most important and best ever done.And when you compare it to some of the best works ever to come out of any film producing nation in the world it is no small praise indeed.
on July 24, 2003
Citizen Kane was filmed in 1941 and was directed by, produced by, and starred Orson Wells. Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Wells wrote the screenplay. In the opening scene there was a lot of symbolism such as wrought iron fences, fog, a moat, a light on the hill from the house and the light going out when the main character of the film died. It was during this scene Charles Foster Kane, the main character, speaks the word "Rosebud" and then drops a glass globe that shatters on the floor. Just before it shatters, the viewer looks inside at the falling snow and then Kane dies. The story is based on the true story about William Hearst, newspaper tycoon.
Mary Kane, Charles's mother, ran a boarding home and by default a boarder gave her a deed to an old abandoned mine, which later was called the Colorado Lode Gold Mine, the 3rd richest gold mine in the world. Mr. Thatcher, a banker from New York, took charge of Charles, who was just a boy, after Mary Kane gave up custody.
Kane was seventy years old when he died. Kane married and divorced twice. Kane's first wife was the current President's niece and her name was Emily Monroe Norton. Charles Kane married his 2nd wife, Susan Alexander, two weeks after his first divorce.
A newspaper reporter, Mr. Thompson, interviewed people that knew Charles Kane to find out what "Rosebud" meant. Mr. Bernstein, Mr. Kane's General Manager, said that "Emily was no rosebud" and maybe "Rosebud may have been something that he lost." Neither, Mr. Bernstein or Susan Alexander knew what "Rosebud" meant. Susan "didn't want to sing" and "everything was his idea, even my leaving him."
As publisher of the New York Inquirer, Mr. Kane would print news by "his definition," and some called Kane a "yellow journalist. Mr. Jedediah Leland, a schoolmate, "best buddy" and dramatic critic for the Inquirer stated during his interview, "I was his oldest friend," and Mr. Kane "never gave anything away," "newspaper was his life...and he loved himself," but "Rosebud, I don't know." Mr. Leland wrote the dramatic critique about Susan's poorly performed opera debut and was later fired.
Kane was still married to his first wife when Charles and Susan's affair was publicized at the same time Kane was running for Governor of New York. Kane lost the election. The Inquirer printed that there was a "Fraud at the Polls," twisting the truth as was the usual.
The butler-in-charge told Mr. Thompson that when Susan left, Charles trashed Susan's bedroom and that Mr. Kane "was a man who had everything" and that "I guess Rosebud was just a piece of the puzzle that was missing."
Charles Kane was a collector of statues, paintings, and pictures that could have filled 10 museums and was worth billions. Charles Foster Kane had the 6th largest private fortune in the world.
The last scene of this movie was seen in the boiler room with a staff member burning some of the items considered to be worthless and the camera zooms in to show the viewers that a sled that belonged to Charles when he was a child and still living with his parents was being burned up and bore the brand name Rosebud.
on June 19, 2003
In the movie Citizen Kane, auteur Orson Welles uses a variety of visual effects to make his film appealing to audiences. The film begins in medias res because Kane has already died at the start of the film. This technique is used to immediately capture the attention of the audience. The film is about a group of reporters who set out to research the life of the very rich, static character Charles Kane. Their goal was to discover the meaning behind his last words, "Rosebud." The audience learns about the life of Kane through the use of flashbacks and a nonlinear film structure. As the reporters interview different people in Kane's life, we are taken back in time to witness the relationship Kane had with those people. This style of film is much more interesting than the normal chronological structure.
The flashback to Kane's childhood shows a happy boy playing in the snow on his sled. His mother is inside making arrangements to send him away after learning Charles would be inheriting a large sum of money. The extreme close up angle of her face shows that she believes she is doing this for the good of her son. She obviously feels he would be better off away from his father, especially with all of the money he will receive. This flashback explains why later in life Kane's character is so concerned with earning the love and acceptance of others. He felt like his mother sent him away because he wasn't good enough. He spends his adult life trying to force people to love him. He marries two different women, runs for governor, and buys a few newspapers in an attempt to control what people think. Unfortunately, nothing works out as Kane would have liked, and he dies a very lonely man. In order for a film to be successful, the audience must have a connection with the main character. The flashback to Kane's childhood makes the audience feel sorry for him and understand why he is the man he is.
The direction style in this film was way ahead of its time. Fading scenes made smooth transitions, even with the nonlinear structure in which it is filmed. Filming in black and white allowed Welles to take advantage of shadows. When Susan tries to convince Kane that she does not want to sing anymore, he steps towards her and his shadow covers her face as he tells her she cannot quit. She is singing again in the next scene. The camera angles are high as Kane gives his speech during the run for governor to indict that power and presence Kane exhibits. When Susan leaves Kane, there is a close up of a bird squawking loudly, which shows the emotional turmoil Kane is suffering through as he becomes alone once again.
There is a lot of symbolism in Citizen Kane. The most important symbol is the sled called Rosebud, which represents the only time Kane was ever truly happy in his life. This symbolism technique is called value placed on an object by a character. The reporters in the film fail to uncover the meaning of Rosebud, and in the denouement it is ironically burned as junk. The snow globe also represents his happy early childhood. The palace he builds represents Kane's wealth and power, yet all the space inside represents how lonely he really is inside.
Kane's character remains static throughout the movie. Even when he realizes he is losing those close to him, he refuses to change his ways. He loses two wives and his best friend and is left to die alone and miserable. Susan's character is very innocent and naïve when she first meets Kane. After many years in an unhappy marriage, she develops the nerve to leave Kane.
The unique style of directing and great acting makes Citizen Kane a fantastic movie.
on December 16, 2002
I believe that the acting and cinematography are what make this film amazing. This film details the life of Charles Foster Kane, from his days as a poor young boy to a powerful and successful newspaper owner. We see how his rise to power affected his friends and coworkers and we also learn the meaning behind his famous last words, "Rosebud." I do admit that sometimes I was bored with the plot, but what I really paid attention to was the impressive cinematography. I was most impressed with the deep-focus camerawork and the extreme foreground and background vision. While some may be unimpressed, it's important to realize that this film was made in the 1940's and many of the techniques used in this film were unheard of at the time. It was a pioneer for future filmmaking and cinematography. In addition, the magnificent acting allowed for many long, uninterrupted shots. The acting is so good (particularly Welles'), you'd never know that almost every castmember had no film experience prior to this movie. The bonus DVD profiles the battle between William Randolph Hearst and RKO over the release of this film. The informative documentary provides some insight to why Hearst vehemently opposed this movie. With the splendid direction, camerawork, and acting, I think Citizen Kane should be viewed by all movie fans alike.
on March 17, 2002
I saw this movie when I was 13 years old and I was NOT into black and white. I had only heard of his radio speech and the scare it had caused. My grandfather was visiting and I had no choice, but to sit down and pretend. I stopped pretending fifteen minutes into the movie and was not only entertained by the movie, but by my grandfather's incite on the movies of this era and breakthroughs this particular one brought to the movie industry. the fading in and out of scenes, the ending focus on "rosebud", etc. and the acting which was not a dramatic portrayal, but an almost real one compared to the acting of that era was something you only see again maybe 15-20 years later. Since then, I have seen it two other times and as a 23 year old and then a 26 year old, found it even more riveting. so why not five stars? Well, it is still a movie from a different time and has that time stamped on it from the very beginning. I still watch old movies trying to broaden my horizons (whatever that intails), but I can't find that common cultural binding point with them and they fail me. Orson Welles did that. His political and social commentary and understanding of the human spirit seemed to generate that for me and I am grateful to both my grandfather and him for being able to entertain me 60 years later.
on October 1, 2001
There are a lot of people who call Citizen Kane the greatest film of all time. I don't know about that (there are a lot of films I enjoy watching more than this one), but I am blown away by the cinematography here.
In movie years, Citizen Kane is older than Moses. This makes its camera work and staging all the more remarkable. This is a brooding tour de force.
I invite all the people who have never seen it to sit back and drink in the imagery that Welles throws at the viewer. From the bright and clear images of Kane building his news empire to the distorted views of him being covered in a burial shroud...few have shown such mastery.
Cinematography is just the tip of the iceberg though. All of the visual appeal is used to convey a message about what is really important in life. Even if it does not become your favorite movie, this is a film that demands to be seen.
This new DVD edition is a wonderful reason to either see the movie again or to watch it for the first time. In particular, I enjoyed Ebert's commentary immensely. This is a great package.
I recommend this movie.
on July 10, 2001
Widely, and perhaps unfairly, recognized as the greatest movie ever made, Citizen Kane is undoubtably a landmark for its technological innovations. Although both the story and the special effects do not come close to matching the best that is avialble today, in its time, Citizen Kane was a giant. A lot of this has to do with the unique storytelling method of using flashbacks. Virtually the whole story comes across as a reporter, in a futile attempt to discover the identity of the mysterious "rosebud," makes a series of interviews. One could argue that the non-chronological structure that results is a predicessor to movies such as "Pulp Fiction" and "Memento." Another dramatic inovation in "Citizen Kane" is the dramatic use of lighting. Legend has it that Orson Welles simply was unaware of the conventions at the time and simply ran around setting things up the way he felt they would be most effective with a team of bewildered technicians following him and correcting his minor flaws. The end result of the effort is a film that looks totally different than anything that came before it both visually and scriptwise. Although both of these advancements represent the kind of itellectual leap indicitive of genius, it is ridiculous to assume on these grounds that "Citizen Kane" is actually a better movie than something like "Star Wars" or "The Godfather." Although neither of those movies might have been made without it, they have definately carried the baton to much greater heights than even "Citizen Kane" could have concieved. Essentially "Citizen Kane" is a movie that is past its time. The same thing will happen to "Star Wars" and "The Godfather" and every other movie ever made. For those of you who appreciate involved, creative filmmaking, "Citizen Kane" will always be a masterpice with abundant characteristics to support its title as the greatest film ever made. But if you are just a recreational movie fan, be wary of that claim because it is far more likely you will be much more emotionally engaged in a more modern film.
on September 28, 2001
Now is your best chance to overcome your dislike for Citizen Kane. And if you already love the film you should be in hog Heaven.
Citizen Kane is the story of a man taken out of his childhood at a young age who rises to greatness by creating a great newspaper empire to become one of the most powerful and influential men in the United States. He has friends, money love and an extravagant palatial estate called Xanadu high in the hills and above the world. Eventually all the treasures of his life become corrupted and lost by his own folly, jealousy and manipulations. This once powerful man lies in solitude longing for the things he lost in his life. He dies with one final word on his lips. "Rosebud" A reporter eager to make a story of the great man and decides his angle will be to decipher the meaning of this final word that is a mystery even to Kane's closest friends. It is through this reporter's investigation we learn the life of Charles Foster Kane.
Very few people watching the film today have any personal recollection of William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper mogul and yellow journalist upon whom the film is based. Nor are we much aware of the films being made at that time to give us a perspective on the many new innovations introduced by this film.
But most of us are familiar and comfortable with Roger Ebert who gives you a walkthrough on the film in one of the two commentary tracks. And there is a two hour documentary as well as scads of interviews and extras to make you expert enough at the film to pose at any Hollywood party as the boorish film snob you have always longed to be. And maybe if you are lucky you may even decide you like the film. If not there is still one bit of drama on the DVD you are sure to enjoy and that is the original Halloween broadcast of Orson Welles "The War of the Worlds". The radio broadcast that scared America and almost drove one woman to suicide.
This DVD truly is a filmschool in a box and from what I can see, a pretty reasonable price for a double disc set. This film can help fans, non-fans and new viewers to appreciate this acclaimed film on new levels in a way never before available.
on July 6, 2004
The best review of Citizen Kane - perhaps of any film - I've ever read is the one titled "Narrative and Eye Disconnect" posted by "A viewer from Richmond, VA USA" on March 21, 2004. I recommend searching through Amazon's reviews to find it, then watching Citizen Kane and re-reading that review. Even though the reviewer gives Kane just one star, s/he writes with great insight into the movie and cinema in general, and has enhanced my appreciation of Citizen Kane exponentially. Thank you, "Viewer from Richmond," whoever you are!
on May 17, 2004
Many of you, like me, may have had your Kane interest piqued by its "#1 Film of All Time" rating by the AFI (American Film Institute). Be forewarned that the AFI also honors "Jaws", "Rocky" and "Snow White" in the same breath. So whatever. If you dive into this film head first expecting the greatest thing to hit the screen, you will be disappointed. The audio commentary itself (included on this edition) states that Welles' "Chimes at Midnight" is a superior film.
Personally, I thought Citizen Kane was very impressive. But I am easily impressed by camera lenses, lighting techniques and 1940s nostalgia. It isn't the acting, script or plot of Kane that appeals to me so much as its artistic storytelling.
If you read through these reviews, you'll be puzzled at how some people can proclaim it a work of art while others are bored and irritated by its pageantry. It's the same with a Picasso painting or a Beatles song or a Chicago skyscraper. Art can be found in anything if you have the patience to look for it. I was patient enough to find 4 stars worth of art in Citizen Kane. Good luck.