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Citizen Kane
Year:
1941
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
8.4
Director:
Orson Welles
Joseph Cotten as Jedediah Leland
Dorothy Comingore as Susan Alexander Kane
Agnes Moorehead as Mary Kane
Ruth Warrick as Emily Monroe Norton Kane
Ray Collins as James W. Gettys
Erskine Sanford as Herbert Carter
Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein
William Alland as Jerry Thompson
Paul Stewart as Raymond
George Coulouris as Walter Parks Thatcher
Fortunio Bonanova as Signor Matiste
Gus Schilling as The Headwaiter
Philip Van Zandt as Mr. Rawlston
Georgia Backus as Bertha Anderson
Storyline: A group of reporters are trying to decipher the last word ever spoken by Charles Foster Kane, the millionaire newspaper tycoon: "Rosebud." The film begins with a news reel detailing Kane's life for the masses, and then from there, we are shown flashbacks from Kane's life. As the reporters investigate further, the viewers see a display of a fascinating man's rise to fame, and how he eventually fell off the top of the world.
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Reviews
Why don't they make films like this any more?
I recently watched the Oscars, and my mom also told me how it was one of the worst audiences, like it was the 2nd least watched Oscars of this history of the awards. We were talking about what could be the possible problems, in my opinion, the movies that are nominated, people really haven't either heard of or didn't enjoy that much. But in general, movies just don't have the same magic they used too.

Watching Citizen Kane for the first time was a relief for me because I almost forgot that there were terrific movies out there. Citizen Kane is a brilliantly made political drama with terrific acting and excellent cinematography. I almost forgot how amazing the classics can be. I think my favorite part about this film is just how the people never figured out what Kane's last word was before he passed, "Rosebud", meant. I felt like some things should just be left in peace and you'll always have at least one piece of the puzzle missing.

What a terrific and perfect movie that should be watched by all. To those who feel the same way about cinema recently, take a chance to watch one of the classics. I think that's the only way we can just get a good view on Hollywood once again.

10/10
2006-03-11
the studio process at its very best
I think that the making of a movie is truly a collaborative process, thus the films of the studio era are without doubt the most fascinating and inventive to date. This does not mean that an independent film cannot be a good movie, it just doesn't have the expertise and resources behind it to make it a truly great movie like Citizen Kane. It also doesn't mean that the big bygone studios didn't turn out their fair share of clunkers, but in my mind, to find the best movies of the last century you have to look to the big studios.

As to Citizen Kane in particular, it is always fascinating to watch. Unfortunately when we think of special effects these days, it's with action films of dubious quality, but Citizen Kane probably used more and to better advantage.The innovations, such as deep focus, sets with ceilings, the mixture of newsreel footage(both real and staged),the effect of overlapping dialogue are amazing. And to think that this was at a time when sound movies were only about a decade old and the movies themselves weren't even a half century old. It's amusing to think that when these techniques were used to create a realism unseen in films up to that time, the audiences were put off, since it was so different than anything else they had seen and they thought it looked phony!

I recently heard a comment from Richard Chow(the editor from Star Wars) on TV that he is still learning things from Citizen Kane, and its great cinematographer Greg Toland, decades later.

So in conclusion to me Citizen Kane stands head and shoulders above any movie before or since.
2005-10-31
Undoubtedly the greatest American film ever created.
Citizen Kane, the film, is many things. It is a brilliantly crafted series of flashbacks and remembrances. It is an engaging story of a dynamic man in a dynamic world. It is a remarkable statement for the wide range of time periods that it covers. It is a deceptively simple story centering on perhaps the most meaningful word in all of moviedom. Behind all that, Citizen Kane is the American cinema. There is not a major director today who has not been influenced by the genius Orson Welles put forth in his debut masterpiece. The film centers around a group of reporters investigating the origin of the dying newspaper tycoon (loosely based on William Randolph Hearst), Charles Foster Kane's last word: Rosebud. The movie begins with an unforgettable newsreel montage summarizing the man's life.

From there on, the viewer is thrown into a gloriously chaotic world of flashbacks upon flashbacks, in which the viewer slowly learns just about everything about Charles Foster Kane's enthralling life. From his trying childhood to his rise to power to the pinnacle of his success to his marital difficulties to his fall from grace, the story of Charles Foster Kane is presented for the viewer in a way that few other movies can offer: magically. Citizen Kane, undeniably, is THE triumph of the American cinema, and one of the greatest films every created.
2001-07-19
Citizen Kane (5/5)
"Citizen Kane" has often been called the greatest film in cinematic history, and with good reason: it is a stroke of genius on the part of Orson Welles. He was only 25 when he directed this film, and yet he pioneered some of the most amazing cinematography and production techniques of his day or any other. At a first glance, "Kane" is a rather simple story: a young boy, Charles Foster Kane (played wonderfully by Orson Welles) inherits a large fortune and winds up dying alone and unhappy--his last words being the infamous "rosebud." Although it seems like a rather cut and dry endeavor, it is so much more than that, mainly because the film is done in flashbacks.

We begin with Kane's death and then move backwards and forwards through his life, in an attempt to find out what "rosebud" means. This is brilliant editing on Welles part; he takes a simple story and creates a complex mesh. Through these many flashbacks we slowly but surely begin to learn of Kane and those around him, and this creates quite the portrait. Welles almost always shoots Kane and other strong characters from a low angle, making them appear lager than life--this especially aids in the character development of Kane. Before this film, using camera angles in such a way was scarcely heard of, but here we see a new technique:Welles shows us that angles can do more than just make a movie look"pretty."

Another fascinating technique Welles employs for character development is set design. Whenever Kane is present, it seems that the ceilings are lower, for examples one should look at Kane's publishing house, and some of the rooms in his mansion. This further demonstrates Kane's massive size and power, and at the same time higher ceilings are used when more inferior characters are used. For example, a newspaper reporter interested in solving the mystery of rosebud, is first shown in a great hall looking at some old records and memoirs belonging to Kane's old guardian, Mr. Thatcher. Because of this we recognize that this reporter is not important, but rather only secondary. Also, Kane's second wife is often sitting in the largest rooms the Kane mansion, which makes her look rather small.

However, the best example of how Welles uses set pieces to enforce Kane's power is when he is running for governor. Here, Kane makes a speech to a very large crowd, and behind him is a mammoth picture of himself. Of course, what is also amazing about this scene is that Welles discovers a new technique called deep focus: he is able to simultaneously keep the large picture and Kane in focus, giving the illusion of depth. After this speech Kane is all set to win the governor's race, but through a twist of some dirty politics, he looses, and soon after, his first wife leaves him. Of course, to anyone paying attention this comes as no surprise--we know there has been distance between Kane and his wife for quite some time. However, we do not receive this information through dialog but rather through Welles brilliance use of subtlety. Welles shows us several scenes of the couple sitting together and having breakfast. Each breakfast encounter comes and goes with great speed leading into a dissolve which then takes us to another breakfast meal. We see the couple slightly bickering, but the way Welles shoots the scene it looks as though they are still eating breakfast right next to each other, which does not usually indicate tension. However, the last frame of this breakfast montage shows a wide shot of the couple, and we see them sitting at a much bigger table then they were first sitting at, and they are also sitting directly opposed to each other. This part of the film tells us a wealth of information, and all because of a set piece (a table), the clever use of editing, and the camera placement. No other film maker before or since this movie has used these technical aspects to flesh out so many details, not only about the characters, but about the story.

The amazing thing about Welles is how much information he is able to convey using subtlety and some simple yet poignant dialogs. Welles does not hit the viewer in the face with his film like so many movies in this day and age (i.e. anything done by Michael Bay), but instead he opts for letting the audience come to their own conclusions. And when I had mulled over this film, the conclusion I came to was rather depressing: Charles Foster Kane had all the money and power in the world but this could not buy him love, and like most of us, he never comes to realize that simple fact, which in the end left him bitter and lonely. Thinking about all of this was rather heart wrenching, but what really drove it home was when I came to discover the meaning of "rosebud": it was one of Kane's childhood toys. That to me is most upsetting of all: the only time Kane was ever truly happy was when he was a child--when he was free from his wealth.

Kane could have said or thought of anything in the world on his deathbed, but instead he chose to reflect on his short-lived childhood. Now if that doesn't get you misty eyed, not much else will. I recommend "Citizen Kane" to any mature person looking for a deep and intricate film, in which there is much more than there first appears. However, it is probably wise to watch the movie twice, in order to discover all the little and large things Orson Welles so masterfully paints on his canvas of celluloid. All and all I give "Citizen Kane": 5 out of 5 stars.

Copyright 2006 Imaginist
2006-02-18
Rosebud
I will not discuss whether this is the greatest film ever made or not. There is no greatest film. You either like a film or you don't. No one film is the supreme film, as there is no one book that is the best, no one song and so on.

Citizen Kane is Orson Welles debut feature made in 1941. He was commissioned to make it by RKO features after he got some fame from the now infamous 1938 broadcast of the war of the worlds. He got the chance to develop his own script use his own actors and crew and had a lot of creative control and thus we got Citizen Kane.

Citizen Kane is about a man: his life, his trials, his tribulations, his ups, his downs and finally his death. The movie opens with what is now one of the most iconic scenes in movie history. An aging Charles Foster Kane played by Orson welles himself lets slip a snowglobe as he utters his final words " Rosebud "

From then on we are taken on a journey through his life. And we watch the talent of welles unfold. Maybe it is his career in radio and theatre but Welles can do one thing and that is tell a story. There is not one dull or uninteresting moment in the film. The story unfolds in a brilliant manner and you are completely sucked into the world of Charles Foster Kane that is so well created by Welles and portrayed by his hand picked crew

Welles has created a fascinating character study in Charles Foster Kane. There have been so many great men and everyone has always tried to scratch away at the surface at try to reach the whole truth about what a man was. Welles tries to show that there is no one truth or no one answer to a man's life. Life is so vast and so varied that every man at one point is occupied in living so man different lives that it is impossible for anyone to gauge what one action or one word meant.

The final monologue is filled with profundity. Even if parts of the movie seem aged (none did to me) that final monologue will always remain relevant as will the movie .

And I am giving it a 10 not because I am another admirer of the emperor's new clothes. I could have given it an 8 or a 9 but now it has become cool to hate Citizen Kane. To protest against these people citizen Kane deserves a 10
2010-11-03
Narrative and Eye Disconnect
Spoilers Herein.

This an extremely influential film, by one of the very few inventors of cinema. But I do not think it is Welles' best. (That's either `Othello' or `Lady from Shanghai' depending on your religion.)

First of all, this is not the work of a genius, but the excellent product of three committed artisans: Welles, Tobin and Mankiewicz.

Mankiewicz, with his brother, were the industry's working intellectuals. Here (aided by Houseman), he simply got a client intelligent enough to know what was up. Similarly with Tobin, who was the Sascha Vierny of his day. These two men pulled on Welles, but as we will see, in independent directions.

The story, Hearst and all that, is irrelevant except for the notion that a writer in the right place can create reality if willing to pay the price. The acting is fine of course, uncharacteristically abstract -- but that's hardly innovative nor groundshaking. No, what makes this film important are two features, and the failed relationship between them.

The first of these is the incredibly complex narrative structure. Things that are normally nested frames: a reminiscent flashback, a text annotated with pictures... are here multiply set up and in turn enfolded into the film proper. We see a newsreel, whose footage later appears in the `real' action; we have a recalled death vision of a childhood but that becomes untenably self-critical; we see her singing and again from her perspective. We have several on-screen narrators but each gets swallowed. There are so many narrative devices at work it keeps us spinning, sledding as each comes into play and is then reabsorbed. The puzzle is assembled several different ways. Nowhere else is such narrative cleverness been even attempted, not by Lynch, Bergman, Wenders, anyone.

The other innovation is the breaking of convention with the eye of the camera. The camera takes positions -- physical and philosophical -- that were previously utterly unknown. Previously, the camera was audience supplemented by `context' shots: perspectives that a human observer might not see but that seemed natural. Now, the camera is something unto itself that we have to accommodate. The camera does things no human would or could. It sometimes (often!) sees two things simultaneously, something that never happens with the natural eye. It has a curiosity that we would not have directed. The eye defines the lighting, not the other way around -- here everything is colored not by what it is, but by how the film's eye changes it.

Both of these experiments are masterful. They changed the world of films, and hence dreams, and hence all of abstract thinking forever.

But the flaw, the lethal problem with this film is that the two experiments have independent lives. They are not coordinated beyond some fairly easy touchpoints and then only in the simplest of ways: an image that is being described by a speaker and the nature of the newsreel. It is as if there were TWO geniuses at work, each doing something important and neither communicating with the other. So when there is a shift or a trick in the narrative, the eye is ignorant of it.

But hey, it was just the man's first film. He quickly fixed that in `Othello' and especially `Shanghai.' The merger of eye and narrative is the real revolution. `Kane' raised the question, which is why it is important. Tarkovsky, some Bergman, Malick, Greenaway have subsequently succeeded with this merger using different devices, but the master is Kurosawa. Welles made Kurosawa possible. It all starts here, but only as a promise. In real terms, the film is a failure.
2002-05-28
Terrible
Yet another movie that people pretend to like just to be like sheep and follow everybody else. The story is terrible and boring. I honestly nearly swallowed my tongue and died when i saw this was in the top 30 movies of all time. Some of the movies it is rated above is just ridiculous. People need to start making their own minds up instead of following others. The Dark Knight was a great movie, but come on people, do you really think its the 3rd best movie of all time. Thats another example of people rating it highly based on other peoples views. Its got nothing on The Shawshank Redemption. I wish they could sometimes re-release movies and erase their history, so everyone can have a blank slate and see what it really gets.
2009-01-01
Fine Piece of Art !
We are talking about a movie that can't be described fairly enough with words. A movie that gave the lead in cinema to Americans. Very well high effects that were very superior at the 40s. the scripts remains as one of the best ever (if not the best already) it is the only Oscar the movie won after all . When I first seen that masterpiece I didn't expect anything out of it .. because a dear friend warned me and told me not trouble myself seeing a such a crap film. Well, one day I told myself that I have to see it, at least to see what's wrong with it .. and I did see it twice after the 1st time .. and frankly every time I see the movie it proves without a doubt that ethier: it is the best American movie or the best movie of all-time. Orson Welles did a hell of a job directing, producing and acting .. even, the way he talks as old Charles Kane sounds so realistic, Orson Welles without a doubt captures even the soul of the character of Charles Kane. It is a shame not to give the movie its all eleven deserved Oscars .. but when we know that the multi-billionaire William H. fought so hard to prevent people of seeing this film which touches his life somehow, I say we will be glad that we had a chance to see such a movie, aren't we?

It is a movie that lost prizes but definitely won our interests of a fine piece of art.
2005-05-10
The march of time...
Citizen Kane is majestic, elegant and noble. It begins at the end, we see a man of obvious wealth and power breathe his last, and then the mysteries of his life are unraveled via a series of anecdotes, barely remembered scenes and highly subjective memories. The boldness of this approach cannot be overemphasized. At the time that this film was made Hollywood was for the most part used to creating straight-forward stories with clearly identified heroes and villains. Kane dared to present Man as he is, rife with confusions, internal contradictions and uncertainty.

As the film progressed, we see Kane, loosely based on William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaper tycoon slowly sacrifice his ideals in order to build his financial empire, losing his friendships with those who believed in him until ultimately he looses everything he has, his marriage, his friends, and his integrity. Though he is the richest man in the world he lives his remaining isolated in his privately built mountain estate where he has surrounded himself with material pleasures, alone and despairing, one senses that he welcomes death. The film takes the view that wealth and power are inherently destructive of human values. Kane himself states `If I hadn't been born rich I might have been a really great man.

What is so masterful about Kane is its ambiguity. We never are certain if Kane really did believe in the values that he professed. At the same time that he sets himself up as above the world, he longs for the affection of the common people. This is symbolized by his exploitative, and patronizing love for a chorus girl, Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore). Her character is given a paper-thin characterization, the only obvious flaw in a nearly perfect movie.

Orson Wells gives a bravura performance as Kane, both identifying with and condemning the man. This film was his first venture into movie making after the infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast that threw America into an uproar. Wells, a child prodigy, had a background in Shakespearian theater, offering modernized adaptations of the Classics, a bold and unusual gesture at the time. He brought that kind of sweeping tragic romantic sensibility to his first film.

Unconstrained by Hollywood's traditions, he broke all the rules. The deep focus photography that gives Kane its theatrical look was one of his innovations. A mastery of sound, gained from years of working in the radio was another. Kane is an avalanche of technical innovation, unmatched in any other Hollywood film.

Despite the film's pessimistic outlook, it is studded by moments of joy, beauty and emotional truth. The supporting cast of characters, most of them regulars from Wells' Mercury Theater are also superb. Joseph Cotton is memorable as Jed Leland Kane's close friend who believes in him more then he does. And Everet Slone is wonderful as Kane's would be mentor Mr. Bernstien.

So many scenes in this movie linger forever in the memory, one is left with a stirring vision of the frailty of the human condition, the film gives us no easy answers and while being fiercely critical of many of it's characters is universal in it's compassion and sympathy, this is perhaps the most vital ingredient for great art.

Kane was one of the most controversial films ever made. Hearst, offended by his portrayal, offered RKO a small fortune to destroy the film. When that didn't work his newspapers embarked on a campaign of defamation against Wells, thus proving that the film's criticism of the power and corruption of the press were precisely on target. Wells was never given a free hand to direct how he liked again and American Cinema was deprived of the one of the greatest geniuses to adopt it as a medium of self-expression.

It's influence, was immediate, incalculable and mostly unacknowledged, the film was a box office and critical failure due to Hearst's efforts and it was not until years later that this film got the respect it deserved. Nowadays there is not one living film director of serious artistic intent that has not been deeply influenced by Citizen Kane. It's not just a masterpiece it's a creative touchstone.

Of course there were other talents at work in making Kane, Hermann Mankiewicz's efforts on the script were indispensable and Bernard Hermann, the composer most famous for working with Hitchcock provided the films beautiful music. Still, the film remains most obviously the work of Orson Wells, a veritable hall of mirrors reflecting the great artist's dreams, obsessions and fears. Citizen Kane is not just one of the great works of cinema it is one of the greatest artistic creations of the century
2002-08-13
Citizen Welles
Citizen Kane is probably the best that American Cinema has ever offered, nigh perfect from the start till the end. Often competing with The Godfather, to be numero uno, Citizen Kane is in a league of its own and nonpareil on countless number of fronts. The creative innovation and the technical advancements implemented, can be least regarded as incredible and astonishing, for a 1941 movie. The movie pioneered the phenomena of time switching and special effects in the world of cinema.

Citizen Kane has stood the test of time for well over six decades, serving as a benchmark and source of inspiration to the film-makers of different era. Citizen Kane is an obituary about a fictitious Charles Foster Kane, a business magnate and a newspaper tycoon. Through this movie, Orson Welles, not only immortalized Charles Foster Kane but also proved his mettle, as a writer, director, actor and most importantly as an auteur. The scenes presented as flashbacks, not only display his versatility as an actor (taking care of the nuances and the subtleties needed to portray the different stages and aspects of Kane's life), but also his story-telling brilliance. Kane's murmuring of the word 'rosebud' at the time of his death and him publicly annihilating his election opponent, Jim Getys, represent the two extremes of human life, the very low and the very high, respectively.

The scenes between Welles and Joseph Cotton are an absolute treat to watch, the latter being at his sarcastic best, depicting contrasting emotions of sympathy and disgust towards his childhood friend, owing to the dichotomy that he suffered, simultaneously taking care of his duties as a journalist, and his friendship with Kane. The movie is studded with numerous mesmerizing and unforgettable scenes and moments, which immensely contribute to the apotheosis that it so deservedly enjoys. A true cinematic magnum opus, without an iota of a doubt and a must for every cinema lover.
2009-04-24
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