So, I finally watched Citizen Kane and WOW! In 1941 Orson Wells wrote, directed and starred in Citizen Kane, one of the greatest films ever made. He told a story about riches, power, and legacy and the insignificance of it all. We see a film about the loss of innocence, love, childhood and life, which turn out to be the only significant things.
Who is Charles Kane?
That is the question this film tries to answer. We follow Charles Kane, a rich and powerful man who leaves the world with a mystery. What is “Rosebud”? A reporter, Thompson, tries to solve this mystery by consulting the people who almost knew Charles Kane. Thompson instead finds the story of a man who had everything he wanted and lost everything he had.
This story is not a story but more of a character. We follow him and his decent from a strong-willed, charming young man with dreams into a sad old man with a legacy, a palace and nothing more. We see that Kane is a contradiction. He wants love but does not love. He is a natural politician but is never elected. He claims to speak for the working man but is never in the working class. He wants to prove something but never proves anything. Everyone knows him, but no one knows who he is. The most significant aspect of the character is his own self-awareness. He says, “If I wasn’t rich, I could have been a great man,” and that completely changes the tone.
We only know Kane through the people who almost knew him. We learn from his friend Leland who tells the tale of Kane’s first marriage and affair where we first get to see Kane’s decent. We see his failure as a politician, a wound to his pride that turns Kane even more bitter. Leland also explains Kane’s inability to have meaningful love, which is his biggest failure.
We learn little about who Kane is from his second wife Susan but instead learn the results of who he is. She shows us how far he falls. He becomes sad, a shell that offers nothing but money. He tries to buy her love by building a palace and giving her things but never himself. He only accepts love on his terms. Susan has a vital role in the film by showing the audience the consequences of being Charles Kane.
Classic Hollywood Narrative Style
Citizen Kane will never be the average Hollywood film. Orson Wells ignored the Classic Hollywood Narrative Style. He was specific in his lighting, camera shots and design choices. All of his characters had significant characteristics and roles to play. He ignored the “everyman” story with the Charles Kane character. The obstacles are never overcome, and the mystery never solved. The cast was full of new names. The only CHNS rules Orson Wells followed was the two-hour length, and the main character is handsome. This rule is different because Orson Wells can’t help being attractive and it gets turned on its head when we see age take over Charles Kane. Orson Wells had a story to tell, and he refused to tell it in any other way than his own. He was stubborn in his vision much like Kane.
Would I recommend?
I would recommend this movie to everyone. It is incredible from the direction, to effects, to writing, to acting and everything else. The use of lighting for symbolism is brilliant. The story is enthralling with a fantastic message and beautiful writing. It is the most quotable movie ever. Finally, I would recommend it because it has the best foreshadowing, I have ever seen. Thompson said at the beginning it would all be “a very simple thing,” and he was right.
I hope you like my first review. Tell me what you think about Citizen Kane or if you have more movie recommendations for me please comment away!