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Cinema Critique: Citizen Kane (1941)

2021-07-14 17:59:58
3 pages
628 words
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Harvey Mudd College
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Citizen Kane is a great motion picture in that a man who had no prior experience in motion picture produced it, and its cast had never faced a camera in a movie production before. It is astounding in the manner of its storytelling both on the script and on camera. Citizen Kane Shows Welles to be a master of the genre; it is a newspaper comedy, a domestic melodrama, a gothic romance and a historical epic. The cast is small, the characters are carefully arranged in a three-dimensional space and frequently short from low angles so that the audience feels like they are sitting an orchestra seat watching a play. It is also uniquely and unmistakably cinematic; the directors used deep focus, asymmetrical compositions and bold contrast of light and shadows to get a theme not explicitly stated in the film. Welles slows time down with subjective dreamlike sequences and speeds it up with montages. The achievement of the film is inseparable from the scale of its main character, the characters flaws are enormous, and his ambitions are heroic.

The central theme of the film is the difficulty of interpreting a life once that life has ended. Kane was more than his public life, his life story is told by a succession of people who were close to him, he never gets to tell his own life story, and hence the audience must wonder how this would have differed from the reminiscence of his associates. As Kanes life ends, the most critical memory was his childhood when his life changed irrevocably leaving him vulnerable and alone. The myth of the American dream is also apparent, where Kane is playing with snow outside with no friends but is contented by peace, security, financial affluence and material luxury in exchange of emotional security which prove to be ultimately unfulfilling as seen in his adult life. He spends his life buying love and making others miserable as he is and dies surrounded by his possessions. Kane often finds himself isolated from the world around him; his life story is told by old people, which generates a layer of sadness and loneliness, all these men were once vital, active and essential, now they are bored and tired. Materialism is very apparent; he is obsessed with possession at the end of the movie the camera pans around his possessions.

The director creatively used mis-en-scene to portray the themes in the film. The setting functions to highlight critical aspects of Kanes life, the ceiling in the cluttered Inquirer offices cannot contain his vast personality while the emptiness in Xanadu portrays his isolation. The aging of some of the characters was quite revolutionary then. The cinematography is another stylistic element in Citizen Kane, Welles uses deep focus, which allows the audience to see foreground, mid and background of a shot in clear and sharp focus. He uses low angles; crane-shot (reveals the truth about Rosebud). Notice how most of Kane shot are shot at a low angle to show his gigantic character.

It is quite apparent that Welles violates Hollywood in all aspects, acting, writing, and photography. He introduces new techniques such as beginning with a mythical two-reel "News on the March a short on the life of Kane, a great publisher who had just died. The supporting characters are downright fantastic; there is not a weak member of the troupe. Dorothy as the singer, for instance, while putting through a range of emotions delivers without a letdown. The cinematographer captured all the action from daringly unusual angles. Citizen Kane explains what Rosebud is, but not what it means. Revealing that when one dies, the memories of others survive and those memories butt up against the walls one erect and the roles he/she play.

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