Citizen Kane

One line review: The greatest movie of all time from a cinematography perspective, however not my greatest movie of all time.

Movie Title: Citizen Kane

Actors: Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead, Ruth Warrick, Ray Collins, Erskine Sanford, Everett Sloane, William Alland, Paul Stewart, George Coulouris, Fortunio Bonanova

Director: Orson Welles

Year: 1941

Genre: Drama

Method of Viewing: DVD

Location of Viewing: Home

Viewing with: No One

Rotten Tomatoes: 100% – Orson Welles’s epic tale of a publishing tycoon’s rise and fall is entertaining, poignant, and inventive in its storytelling, earning its reputation as a landmark achievement in film.

My rating: *****

My assessment (the first 101 words at least): This movie has earned it’s status of one of the best movies of all time. It earns it due to it’s fantastic and unique camera angles, it’s ingenious method of unveiling a complex character such as Charles Foster Kane through the view of those who were closest to him, and due to the great acting by all of cast. This film is actually a useful tool to help me realize that a film can be fantastic without being your favorite film. From a film critic’s standpoint, this film is absolutely perfect. However, this film is not a personal favorite of mine.

It’s very odd to not really like a movie, and yet find absolutely nothing wrong with it. As I said, by viewing Kane’s life through the stories of others, we feel like we get both a full and incomplete picture (like putting a puzzle together). It seems all of Kane’s friends simply dismiss him as acting crazy sometimes, though by the end of the movie the audience feels as if they almost have a grasp of what motivated Kane throughout his life. Even with the benefit of every single story and Rosebud, Kane’s true nature still feels just out of reach.

I feel like an absolute amateur trying to look at the directing of this movie, but I’ll give it a shot. Even by me it was obvious how carefully each shot was chosen. I think back to Kane in the Inquirer’s press room, how the camera seemed to just stay still as actors walked around it. It gave you the sense that you were in the newsroom, as a nervous page to scared to move as men larger than you talked business. The dramatic shots used when Susan Alexander was singing helped to cement the absolute terror she must have felt. All of this shown, not explained to the audience as though they were 5 years old, but shown. The only other thing that stood out in my mind was how no matter how old, or how powerful Kane was, he always seemed to be shot from below. It’s as though no matter how much he gained, or how much he lost, he still had the air of power and control. It certainly portrayed a man you would be forced to respect.

Rosebud. It’s the oldest movie spoiler in existence and unsurprisingly it was spoiled for me before I had even heard of the movie Citizen Kane.  I have to say I was a bit surprised at the way it was presented. Perhaps because I expected the ending to be similar to Tiny Toons ending (yes, I got this movie spoiled by Tiny Toons) where the reporter would randomly find the sled right after the obituary had gone out. Instead, it was simply a mystery left for the audience to know and interpret. In a way, despite knowing it well ahead of time, the ending actually gave a warm feeling to the movie. For a man who had everything he ever wanted and then lost it, the simplicity of childhood memories puts a warm glow over his entire life.


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