Quick recap: Charles Foster Kane, newspaper magnate, dies and his last word is ‘rosebud’. A reporter is sent out to investigate what the word means, in hopes of getting to the bottom of who Kane really was.
Fun (?) fact: It’s no secret that William Randolph Hearst wasn’t a fan of Citizen Kane, seeing as how the main character parallels many points from Hearst’s life. Orson Welles has stated several times that the inspiration for Kane was based off of several sources, not just Hearst. Nevertheless, one time Welles and Hearst were in an elevator together, during the San Francisco premiere of the movie. Kane asked Hearst if he would be attending and Hearst ignored him. As he got off on his floor, Welles replied, ‘Charles Foster Kane would have accepted.’
My thoughts: I can predict that this post is going to be more rambling than usual.I’d like to say it’s because it will be hard for me to describe the greatness that is Citizen Kane, but in all reality it’s mostly because I have the flu. As an early Christmas present to all of my readers, here is a helpful tip for you: the flu shot is bullshit.
Citizen Kane has been a movie I have been wanting to watch for a long time because it’s on everyone’s ‘best of’ list. It’s also a movie I have dreaded watching because it’s on everyone’s ‘best of’ list. And seeing as how Psycho turned out, I turned my expectations way down. Luckily, from the first few minutes I was hooked. I’m a fan of non-linear movies or really any film that defies traditional storytelling and this movie is the father of them all. It starts out with the death of the main character and the viewer only finds out who Kane was through flashbacks. I especially loved the newsreel scene at the beginning, announcing Kane’s death. It was so realistic PLUS it had my favorite old movie trope- spinning newspapers!!
I think the reason I loved this movie so much is how Charles Foster Kane is brought to life. Each person interviewed had a different perspective on Kane, some negative and some positive. I went from feeling sorry for Kane as he was taken away from his home and instead brought up by the bank to swooning over him as he refused to acknowledge his vast amounts of money, only wanting to help the poor. And then as he became even more wealthy, his personality began to change. The pivotal scenes showcasing the segue from All-American Good Guy to Kind of a Jerk happened during his first marriage. At the beginning of the marriage, he and Emily can’t stay away from each other. Both are in good spirits and have high hopes for the future. But with each scene, all set at the breakfast table but with different years, the couples drift apart physically and emotionally. It was a powerful way to show the damage being done.
As Kane continued his rise to fame and money, he became even more eccentric- buying statues and other works of art and then doing nothing with them. It is during his second marriage that he decides to build an estate, Xanadu. He and his wife relocate here and it is at Xanadu that I could finally see what Kane had become. The scene where Susan is begging to not have to sing again is heartbreaking, as well as when she finally leaves him. The estate itself is ornate and gorgeous but at the same time desolate and depressing. It was the perfect place to match what Kane had become.
I could write a whole post focusing on the special effects and cinematography of Citizen Kane but there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been analyzed a million times over. My two favorite aspects of what makes this such a remarkable movie are 1) the makeup effects turning Kane from his early 20s to old age. It was so hard to believe it was the same person at times and it wasn’t until after the movie that I found out that Welles was only in his early 20s himself when he made the movie. And then 2) I had no idea this was a thing, but I loved how the camera focused. This is called ‘deep focus’. I can’t really describe it but basically it wasn’t just an actor staring into the camera and saying his lines.
Final review: 5/5. This movie lives up to all the hype and then some. It is truly a must see for anyone.
Up next: let’s go with Woman in the Dunes. If I keep putting that title here, I will eventually watch it.