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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
i hate to say this but i was underwhelmed by this movie
OK,i'm certain i'm in the minority here,but whatever.i did not like Citizen Kane.first off,i didn't think it was profound at all.i also didn't think the look of the film was that great.many people say it has a great visual style,but i disagree completely.how this movie is number one all time on some lists is beyond me.to say this movie was a drag is understating things.there was and is too much hype for this movie.so it's directed by and stars Orson Welles.even worse is Welles is widely regarded as a genius as a result.big hairy deal.i was bored out of my skull.considering this movie is considered sacred and any negative comment is blasphemy,i'm glad nobody knows where i live,otherwise i fear i may be hunted down and killed.not too many people are likely to pay attention to this comment,but i don't care.this is how i feel about Citizen Kane.maybe i'm a complete idiot,or maybe i'm just missing something.either way,this movie rates a 3/10 at best.
2007-06-03
Greatest movie of all time?
I'm sorry for saying this but, in my opinion there are much better films. And for people who think this is just The Best, please don't just go off talking about how wrong i am or how i don't know anything. I'm not saying it was bad, cause i did enjoy it, I'm just stating that I've seen much better films. MUCH better films, like Chinatown and The Shawshank Redemption. But in my opinion, picking the best film of all time is difficult but i think it could've gone to a better film.

I mean, i frankly didn't like Orson Welles. At all. He was just extremely annoying at parts, and i know that the character wasn't meant to be the greatest guy in the world, or a good guy at all, but listening to Orson Welles and also knowing he directed it gave me a bit of a headache. I mean whats the point of giving his film "Greatest Film of All Time" if he doesn't even appreciate the film industry. To me, its just mocking other better films and directors. Thus, i change my mind, i don't really like Citizen Kane. AT ALL.
2006-05-16
Talk About BORING!!
I watch movies constantly, an i rarely see movies that i have troubles watching all the way through. For one of my classes at school, i needed to watch afi's top 10 movies. This movie was ranked at number one and I have no idea why. This movie was so boring I had to watch it several times because i kept falling asleep and missing certain parts. Fine, it was clever having Rosebud, and the importance of youth, but i felt that this is an example of a movie, that could be told in about 5 minutes, rather than stretching it out into one of the longest and most boring movies that i have ever seen. Now, i was also shocked at the acting. i generally find that acting supports a relatively weak script, however in this movie's case, i felt that the relatively weak script was supporting the awful acting. i personally was not very impressed with the acting strictly because the reactions felt very forced and everything was very overdone. all in all i was not impressed at all with this film, regardless of past ratings.
2007-01-15
Most important movie ever made
Kane "Citizen Kane" (1941) was Orson Welles' film debut, and in it he created an enduring masterpiece that is considered by many to be the greatest movie ever made.

Story:

Shortly after "Citizen Kane" opens, we see aged newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane (Welles) softly drawl the word "Rosebud" and die. Sensing that there's a story behind Kane's dying word, a magazine editor shows a reporter a newsreel obituary that chronicles how Kane created a business empire, married a U.S. President's niece, ran unsuccessfully for Governor of New York, divorced his first wife and married a second, collected art, built a fabulous estate called Xanadu, and divorced his second wife. The reporter is then assigned the task of ferreting out the significance of "Rosebud." As the reporter's investigation progresses, fascinating details about Kane emerge.

My opinion:

Citizen kane is maybe for a lot of people (myselve not included) not a real entertaining movie, But there is no doubt about it that aws one of the most important movies ever made.

The visual style of "Citizen Kane" looks stunningly fresh and inventive even today, and the unconventional narrative structure of the Oscar-winning screenplay still seems daring. Welles' portrayal of a character who gradually ages from 25 to old age is unexcelled, and the movie's supporting cast, most of whom had worked previously with Welles on stage and radio productions, is superb. In short, everything came together in "Citizen Kane" to make it one of the greatest character studies ever captured on film.

Citizen kane is also one of my favorites and is listed in my top 5 of all time: 9.5 / 10 Masterpiece !!!
2005-11-08
why did Citizen Kane create such an impact upon its first release?
Well as a media student myself , i have come across this question many times in books and during lectures. There are simply 3 reasons the film, which was considered as the "Mona Lisa of all films" , created such a legendary appeal upon release in 1941: 1) This was Orson Welles first cinematic debut , even though he had been a huge star in theater , he was given an opportunity few first time directors were permitted to having. He had full artistic freedom and above all power, to direct , produce, write and even star in his own picture. Therefore the film industry and RKO pictures had absolutely no influence in the making of the film and were not to know what was happening on set .Of course this was bound to generate a number of problems as businessmen were curious about the nature and plot of the film , which takes us to the second reason the film caused controversy.

2)One of the main reasons the film posed contentions was because the main character , Charles Foster Kane(Orson Welles), featured a range of similarities with real media mogul and newspaper journalist William Randolph Hurst . Therefore the film was seen as depicting the life , problems and personal relationships of a real person thus fictionalizing his life. Some of the similarities between the two persona's are:

KANE: newspaper tycoon , worked for New York Inquirer , known as the Kubla Khan of Xanadu ,married talentless singer Susan Alexander Kane, he was a political aspirant to presidency by campaigning for governor, bought his wife the Municipal Opera House, Financier Thatcher, and threat Getty's. Hurst: yellow journalist , worked for New York Journal, political aspirant to presidency by becoming governor, married acress Marion Davies, bought his wife Cosmopolitan Pictures, financier JP Morgan , and threat Tammany Hall.

-differences: Susan Alexander Kane( Dorothy Comingdore) leaves Kane later in their life however there was no marriage breakdown for Hurst and Marion.

3) The last reason and most pivotal of all to why the film was regarded the way it was , was due to its technical and stylistic innovations . The film upon its release was misunderstood and unappreciated by critics as they couldn't comprehend many of its elements and were too concerned with its dark and mysterious nature which is one of Welles's characteristics in his films. The film after all was 20 years ahead of its time and was only regarded as a triumphant success upon its second release after the American Film Noir era in the 1950's. His most prominent artistic inventions were: -the low angled camera movements -extreme facial closeups -long uninterrupted shots -chiaroscuro lighting -overlapping dialogue , giving a realistic effect to conversations -subjective camera angles -deep focus shots and depth of field -flashbacks that make up most of the film All the above and more constitute to why the film is so influential to all would be film directors and for why many people regard it as the best film of all time. Lastly we musnt forget the exceptional score by Bernard Herrmann who had collaborated also with the best known director of all time, Alfred Hitchcock , and made him the chillin sounds of strings in Psycho and Vertigo to name a few . In addition the superb photography of Gregg Toland in regards to Welles's unique eye on details. After all he wanted to put in each shot everything the human eye can see if they were present.

There are many areas of the film which are crucial , these are some of the most important , and as you can see there is never too little or too much that you can add to this masterpiece .
2006-08-31
Years after the controversy, the film fails to stand on its own merits
It is virtually impossible to come across a 10 Best Films List from any "serious" critic or film institution that does not have Citizen Kane ensconced in the Number 1 slot. I have literally heard film historians who insist that if you don't like this film, then you don't like films. Well, I happen to love films and I do not especially like Citizen Kane and, refreshingly, I see from many of the comments there are legions of people that also do not appear to like this film much either. Much of the aggrandizement stems from the high esteem that the film industry and critics held auteur Orson Welles and the empathy they had for Welles in the obstacles that he faced in making this film. Yet while one can appreciate the single-minded ferocity an artist can have in bringing forth a vision – one must also admit that many times the end product of that vision is not a masterpiece. Welles' melodrama, which is a thinly veiled depiction of the life of legendary power broker William Randolph Hearst, put him on the wrong side of the publishing magnate, who did not like having his life be the subject of a film and set forth the dogs of war to try to hamper Welles. Many critics gathered around Welles and starting inventing superlatives to describe the end result as an antidote. At the time, this picture caused quite the controversy and became a cause célèbre. Unfortunately, decades after the death of Hearst, when many new film watchers barely know who he was, the film must be judged on its own merits and not the controversy it caused in its day, and that is where the film falls apart.

The film opens with the death of its central character, the obscenely wealthy Charles Foster Kane (played by Welles) and his whispered dying word of "Rosebud". A group of journalists go on the hunt to figure out the meaning of what or who is "Rosebud", and we get to see Kane's life unfold in retrospect based on the investigations of journalist Joseph Cotton. "Rosebud" is the film's central mystery, but it is basically a McGuffin. People going into the film familiar with the answer will find the proceedings utterly pointless. Those unfamiliar with the identity of "Rosebud" may be less charitable once they realize that they have been gamed into hanging on for something so trivial. In fact, it is almost laughable as to how slight the storyline ends up being.

Welles depicts everything on screen at arm's length. There is no character to draw the viewer into the events that unfold or to win sympathy. They are all just ciphers moving in and out of the frames. Emotionally, the film is positively glacial. The acting, even by Welles himself, is outrageously stiff. Events befall the central character and have minimal impact and thus the viewer has absolutely no reason to be impressed by them. Fans of the film drone on and on about "shots" and camera effects as though great film's succeed on those merits at the expense of story, acting, style and substance. Welles, the director, overuses the canard of mammoth Gothic sets that dwarf his characters to emphasize their purported loneliness or disenfranchisement. This may have been impressive at the time, but now it merely seems a ploy to compensate for the tepid dialog and stale performances. Anyone who truly wants to give director James Cameron grief about his dialog really needs to go back and listen to Citizen Kane with an unbiased ear. Additionally, the much lauded darkness of the film and trick camera shots that earned Welles praise for his cinematic decisions become far less impressive when one realizes that Welles directed and photographed ALL of his films in this fashion, whether it was warranted (Journey Into Fear) or not (The Magnificent Ambersons). It was simply his directorial style and he offered no other alternatives in his career because it was all he knew how to do. Unlike other films of the era which are still impressive, even if we don't like their point of view (Gone With the Wind comes to mind), it is difficult to even understand how Citizen Kane rated as a great film in its day. Its central character remains aloof and the grand secret of Rosebud leaves most viewers I know shrugging their shoulders, if not lamenting the loss of time it took to find out about it. The revelation, rather than arousing sympathy or understanding for Kane, fails to make him any more accessible and, like the camera work, ends up coming off as a last-minute gimmick to try to make Kane the man seem more human than we have witnessed in compensation for the lack of development during the course of the film due to the weaknesses of the writing and acting.

And finally, for those film historians/critics who are still thumping their chests 70 years after the fact as to how the Oscar voters gave the Best Picture to How Green Was My Valley over Citizen Kane, the answer is quite obvious to someone watching the films with fresh eyes. HGWMV may have its share of downbeat moments and may not be "perfection", but it contains in its running time more emotion, character development and solid storytelling than Citizen Kane is able to muster on its best day. It is far and away the more accessible film for viewers emotionally - then and now.
2011-03-18
an over-rated movie
For the life of me, I have tried hard to understand how and why this movie could possibly be considered the #1 film in the first 100 years of American film-making. The first time I tried to watch it, I got a few minutes and hated it; I couldn't make myself care. I tried again, because it's a "classic" made by a "genius", and I sincerely wanted to understand how it could possibly be voted higher than Casablanca.

It is boring and noisy and the makeup is horrible. I will never understand why this movie was voted #1. I wouldn't even put it in the top 100.

It has failed in every way a film can fail. I don't care about the protagonist. I find it cliché, obnoxious and dull. Perhaps in its day it was fresh, but it doesn't stand the test of time the way Casablanca does.

I don't care what anyone else says about this movie; in my opinion, it is the worst thing a movie can be: boring. I will never force myself to watch it again.
2008-01-31
The Absence That Negates The Whole
Spoilers Ahead:

Yes, if you don't understand that this movie is about William Randolph Hearst, in a very thinly veiled way, such that it didn't escape his notice, it will bore the crap out of you. It mirrors his life so well that the studio's legal team kibitzed eternally putting off releasing it. When they did, they all waited for the building to fall upon them. Welles himself said that Hearst knew it was about him. He relays that anecdote: about being in an elevator with Hearst, who steadfastly ignored him, with his back facing him. As his floor neared, Hearst involuntarily turned towards Orson and said,"Son, what was this Citizen Kane crap all about?" Welles said what I am going to say, it is about that verse from Mark about a man gaining the whole world yet losing his own soul? What was the point?" Orson said, he snorted disgustedly, and stormed out of the elevator. Rosebud: what does it mean? It is the name of the boy's sled, when he was loved, living with people caring for him. Remember what he is grasping when he says the word and dies? A snowy globe that hearkens us back to the beginning when he is taken away from his happiness to be trained as an industrialist. His entire life makes sense if you understand this scene. He lives in a palace, with a trophy wife, filling it with possessions from all over the entire world. He, in typical Kane fashion, calls it Xanadu.

His badly singing, trophy wife is but another possession. The riddle of Kane is in this attempt to regain that lost love that is the ontological difference between happiness and unhappiness: the presence or absence of love. The lesson of Citizen Kane is that one can not materialize love by buying objects and then attempting to, like a vampire, suck existential value from these material goods. As the movie shows the ridiculous amount of crap he has stuffed in his house, you are seeing the exact mathematical amount of how unloved he feels. When he says Rosebud, and the globe rolls upon the floor, you now understand everything you are about to watch: his extorting of approval, popularity and praise from others. Jedidiah still cares for him even after he insisted he write the piece, praised it, then fired him. Never miss how Orson delineates him as a blockhead. His political pronouncements are always wrong, consistently. Beginning with his quixotic naiveté about Hitler, continuing through the story that he could have silenced but, stupidly, decided to fight and lose over, the man is not the brightest bulb in the box.

The two themes are not unrelated: his lack of ontological reflection upon the forces that are whipping him forward, damaging himself and others, to stuff more ridiculous crap in his temple to that little, rejected boy with his sleigh. That is Kane, that is what the ending means: his entire life was a quest to become big enough that people would be forced to love him, whether they liked it or not. Yes, friends, the verse from Mark, Orson himself said was the message of this classic. Why should you watch it? Maybe because a whole way of human life is predicated upon it: Materialism. The tragic belief that one's lifestyle: house, car, clothes and travel, magically convey upon the person great existential value. The point of the movie is to show you an ontological failure; a man who never grasped the insanity of acquisition to acquire love that can never be bought, only freely given. Yes, I find it long also, it has many slow parts; I own it because it reminds me of a way of life I reject, indeed that my entire being is founded upon its negation. Like Barry Lyndon, the point of this classic is a cautionary tale: always be aware, as much as you can, of the forces driving your predilections or their slave you shall always be, my friends. When your heart stops, like mine will, it all belongs to another. We may take only our love and goodness with us. The little boy, with his sled, returned home after wasting his entire life trying to buy love. How Not To Be. Deus Vobiscum IMDb. Q.E.D.

"For What Does It Profit A Man To Gain The Entire World And Forfeit His Soul? Mark 8:36

"He Who Possesses Is Himself Possessed." Nietzsche

"The Unreflected Life Is Not Worth Living." Socrates
2016-02-12
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
The Distinguished Citizen ...
There is a telling moment in CITIZEN KANE that quietly reveals a lot about what makes the film great. It is a scene set in the dark days of the Great Depression, where Kane is turning over much of his empire to his arch-nemesis, Thatcher. As they talk, Kane casually walks away from the camera and we suddenly discover that the room the men are in is an illusion. The background wall that looks to be right behind the them is actually twenty or thirty feet away, the window sill isn't at waist height, but actually is over Kane's head. The room is huge and Kane is dwarfed by his surroundings. Kane than walks back toward the camera and perspective again creates an illusionary intimate image.

It is a neat camera trick and KANE is full of neat camera tricks. It discretely plays with our perception of reality, just as the story does. Through out, Charles Foster Kane is at a distance and slightly out of focus and then he is up close and personal; he is larger than life and suddenly small and petty; he is always at the center of the picture, yet concedes the foreground to the various witnesses who tell his story. CITIZEN KANE is a treasure chest of cinematic gadgets and gizmos; yet as deliciously stylized as KANE is, the style meshes perfectly with the content. CITIZEN KANE is a story of illusions and perceptions told through illusions and perceptions.

Before KANE, and for the most part afterward, no film has quite taken hold of the medium of film and done so much with it. Other directors have tried to dazzle us with how cleverly stylish they can make their films, but usually the effect is self-consciously arty: Every rabbit pulled out of a hat is greeted with a drum roll and a fanfare. The beauty of KANE and the reason director Orson Welles remains an artist of awed respect, arise from the casual grace with which he performed his magic tricks. His rabbits are in themselves so fascinating that how he produces them is only of secondary interest. Yet for a film obsessed with stylistic trickery, CITIZEN KANE still manages to be an incredibly personal story.

To say a film is efficient may seem like a backhanded compliment, but part of the wonder of KANE is that it tells so much story and covers so much territory on a B-movie budget. It is an epic created on sound stages and with editorial mosaics. Welles begins his film with a mock newsreel obituary announcing Kane's passing, then basically repeats aspects of that same story several times over from different perspectives, maintaining a vague chronology, but jumping around in time to let us know that there is more to a life than the mere passage of time. Welles tells us who Kane was to the world, then who he was to the people who actually knew him -- suggesting that who we are is defined not by what we have done but by who we have touched. It is one of the most effective and insightful film biographies that was ever made. The fact that it is a biography of a fictional character is totally irrelevant.

The essence of CITIZEN KANE is the fable of the blind men and the elephant. Like the blind men, who, upon examining only a part of the beast, assume that the elephant is a rope (the tail), a tree (a leg), a sword (a tusk), etc., the witnesses to Kane's life see him as a spoiled child, an idealist, a hypocrite, a monster and so on and so forth. All are correct, yet all are wrong, only seeing in Kane what they want to see. We never meet Kane the man, only Kane the illusion, yet we end up with a vague grasp of who he must have been. If CITIZEN KANE offers any universal truth it is that a life -- or a movie -- is more than the sum of the parts.

Even given all the well-deserved praise proffered to Welles as a director, he never seems to get his due as an actor. His embodiment of Charles Foster Kane is, simply put, one of the great screen performances of all time. We remember that KANE saw Welles as a first time director, but it was also his first time on screen professionally and he gives a performance that is both self-assured and subtle, bold and bemused. Taking Kane from his twenties to his sunset years without a false note, giving a performance that combines gentle humor with grandiose theatrics, Welles creates a character of shifting moods and conflicting motives, yet always consistently believable. In later years, Welles perfected his persona of larger-than-life bluster and wounded arrogance, on screen and off, but he never again got a chance to play a character of such complexity and nuance.

KANE's status as "the greatest film ever made" is always being challenged, defended and debated, yet it is remarkable how seldom the film itself is imitated. Despite being given this perfect blueprint for how to film a biography, it is rare that any film attempts to break free of the this-happened-that-happened style of storytelling. It is as if the legendary stature of the film intimidates others.

Hitchcock once said that film is life with all the dull parts edited out. Welles adheres to this and goes one better: CITIZEN KANE is all highlights and underlined passages, a Cliff Notes biography of sorts. Does this allow us to get to know the real Charles Foster Kane? Well, yes, and no. We are allowed to solve the mystery of "Rosebud," but Kane the man remains just out of our reach. We never really meet Charles Foster Kane, only his shadows. Welles and screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz give us pieces of a puzzle, but the pieces are not all from the same puzzle.
2005-06-13
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