Citizen Kane (1941)
Starring: Orson Welles, William Alland, Ray Collins, Dorthy Comingore, Joseph Cotten
Directed by: Orson Welles
Released by: RKO Pictures
Synopsis: Minutes before his death infamous magnate Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) mutters the word "Rosebud". This ignites a mystery that takes us to a journey into the enigmatic past of the man people grew to both love and hate.
Review: Citizen Kane is not just one of the best movies ever, it's THE greatest film ever created by man (according to critics of course). But you wouldn't realize this had you seen the film in its 1941 premiere. That's because the film is so daring in execution that very few people were able to see its strengths, effectively making it the classic film equivalent of an art house film.
Charles Foster Kane, played splendidly by Orson Welles, may be one of the most fascinating film characters ever committed to film. This is largely in part to the narrative style used in the movie. Rather than giving us a straight telling of his life, we, along with the news reporter, investigate his background by listening to what the people closest to him have to say. This creates an un-reliable plot device since the different accounts presents us different views on Charles Kane as a man, impresario and politician. Yet, this is the thing that makes him a fascinating man. Was he a hero or a villain? Was he honest or greedy? Was he a winner or a loser? You will ask these questions and more as you watch the film, making for an engrossing evening at the movies.
Citizen Kane is also home to the greatest movie mystery of all time. Without spoiling anything, the meaning of the word "Rosebud" is what guides the entire movie forward. It creates a curious motive for both the characters and the audience to listen to every detail as possible. Very few films are able to enthrall the audience this well. Many decades later and people are still debating what exactly the film’s ultimate resolution is.
There is also a mystery surrounding the actual Charles Foster Kane character. Sources say that he was inspired by many magnates of the time, but it's been proven that elements of the film were inspired by Welles’ own life. This makes the film a very personal one him. One begins to understand why he spent so much time and effort creating this picture: it's serves as a gateway to his eccentric mind.
The cinematography in the film is also spectacular. Orson Welles created a magnificent world and some intricate shots. At first they may seem like a cosmetic gimmick, but the special shots give us different points of views of the story, some that were created just for this film! It's no wonder why the film is a showcase of cinematography techniques.
But as groundbreaking as the film is it is bound to have its naysayers. The narrative technique used to tells us the story is one that requires a lot of patience. Since all characters offer different views on the same person it may be hard to fully grasp the plot. The shots may also be distracting, on occasion taking our attention away from the characters in order to notice a background element. The story may also be seen as a little dry for some due to some slow pacing in key scenes. As history has shown us, the movie isn't made for a typical audience, so don't feel too bad if you don't find yourself enjoying this mock biopic.
In many ways, Orson Welles created a film that mirrors its lead characters as well as the people around him. You may love the film, you may hate it, but there's no denying that it's a very fascinating social epic about a man who was too ambitious for its own good, and left an unforgettable legacy in the process. Yep, Citizen Kane is a lot like its namesake alright! What else did you expect from the guy that made us believe that aliens were invading Earth back in the day?
Rating: 5 filmstrips out of 5