Citizen Kane (1941)
(unrated) 119 mins

‘Citizen Kane’ is quite simply the first film one should show at film school. It is textbook in everything it does. I have never seen a film with nearly this much attention to detail in every single frame of every single shot. Each shot, each camera angle, each movement of the camera is done in such a way to evoke a point, a thought, or some aspect of the character on screen. It’s truly remarkable. This is filmmaking at its best.

For those that are unaware, the film centers around a newspaper magnate, Charles Foster Kane, and his last words, “Rosebud.” A newspaper writer leads the investigation and goes around interviewing people that knew the man when he was alive. What follows is an intricate description of the subject of the film. We see one aspect of him through one persons eyes, and a different aspect through someone else’s. When all the pieces are put in the puzzle, it leaves kind of a fuzzy picture, but that is kind of the point when one is investigating a dead man.

And at the heart of it all is the man himself, Orson Welles. He IS Charles Foster Kane. Not only that, he is Kane at all phases of his life. We see him as a young man, eager to take over the newspaper business and get it off the ground. We see him at the height of his power, as he runs for president. We also see him as an old man, frustrated by his failures and isolated in his mansion. Such an epic story needs an epic performance, and Welles is game.

So, most importantly, what do all these things add up to? Well, for one, it’s loosely based on the story of William Randolph Hearst (he even tried to have the film shut down). But that isn’t really the point of the film. It’s a portrayal of a man, for one. His desires, his fears, his strengths and his shortcomings. It’s also a tale about goals and success, and what success really means. But most of all, it’s about what truly motivates a man and how that affects him. Charles Foster Kane will always be somewhat of an enigma, but ‘Citizen Kane’ is a truly fascinating take on him. I can’t say this word often when it comes to films, but this one is truly nothing less than a great achievement.

+4

Oscar Awards
Best Original Screenplay

Oscar Nominations
Best Picture
Best Director (Orson Welles)
Best Actor (Orson Welles)
Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture
Achievement in Cinematography (Black-and-White)
Achievement in Art Direction (Black-and-White)
Achievement in Film Editing
Achievement in Sound Recording