Citizen Kane Reviews
The film, in its whole basically mixing some sensationalised mystery with a description of newspaper magnate William Hearst's ever-deprecating life (portrayed by none other than Orson Welles himself, a performance which certainly is commendable, in all), is able to deliver good dialogue, with some exceptions wherein the conversations feel forced and too theatricised. Editing is also good, but really nothing to write home about, as this too sometimes leaves (much) to be desired. (And that is without mentioning the consequential and terrible attempts at making fourth wall breaks seem fashionable.)
The so-called "pan-focus" (i.e. the focusing on multiple layers of depth in one shot) seems peculiar the first time it's used, but Welles and Toland milk this kind of camerawork so much that it quickly becomes a - surprisingly annoying - gimmick.
Ironically, the story is built around a single word, "Rosebud", whispered by Kane in his last breath seconds before dying, and the journalistic research thereafter trying to figure out the meaning of said word. Seeing as to how this is the premise of the whole movie, it forms a gigantic plot hole from the very start and at the very base of it; after all, given that not a single person is within hearing range to perceive Kane's dying word and subsequently get the word out about it, the plot driving the movie just doesn't make sense.
Ultimately, where I land on this film, is that it really suffers from the status it's been given: frankly, placing a movie on a pedestal arguing it to be "the best movie ever made" diminishes just such a status, and moreover makes it dilapidate into a category of lesser film. Why? Because of the extreme bias forced onto fresh audiences. Mind you, "Citizen Kane" was crafted very creatively, but in its essence, it's become nothing more than an idolisation and idealisation of its medium, causing nothing but letdown.
I can see the glory which was once there, but also that it has faded just because of its presence. Quite sad, really.
A flop at the time, Citizen Kane has now been acknowledged as one of the greatest movies of all time. Orson Welles was a young wunderkind given carte blanche by RKO to make whatever movie he wanted and he brought his Mercury Players from New York (where they had triumphed on Broadway and on the radio, with help from the WPA). Although the script included extensive contributions from Herman J. Mankiewicz (as documented by Pauline Kael but disputed by others) and the deep-focus cinematographic wizardry came courtesy of Gregg Toland, there is no doubting Welles' imprint as an auteur. First, the theme of the egotistical power-hungry man who is also vulnerable, makes mistakes, and comes to a shoddy end appears more than once in his oeuvre (MacBeth, Mr. Arkadin, Touch of Evil), alongside the theme of nostalgia for days gone by, one's youth and innocence, before those mistakes were made (The Magnificent Ambersons, Chimes at Midnight, also Touch of Evil). "Rosebud" represents this latter theme well. Second, Welles' energy and enthusiasm devoted to the style of the picture are everywhere to be seen - in Kane we get thrilling montage after montage, beginning with the faux newsreel and extending to various ways that time is denoted as passing (those breakfast scenes with first wife Emily, the Opera sequences with second wife Susan). The camerawork (with long tracking shots), the sets (with ceilings), the overlapping flashback structure, the ensemble acting (by Joseph Cotton, Everett Sloane, Dorothy Comingore, Ruth Warrick, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, George Colouris, and of course, Welles himself in all sorts of makeup), the chiaroscuro lighting, the baroque excess of it all - these things make appearances in much of Welles' future work. He never stopped experimenting (as witnessed by his late essay films F for Fake and Filming Othello) but it all started here. Even seen many times, it is still astonishing to see just how creative the filmmaking was and how much freedom Welles was granted to do whatever he wanted (freedom he never had again). The rise and fall of Charles Foster Kane, American, although perhaps a lightly veiled swipe at media tycoon William Randolph Hearst at the time, still has parallels to larger-than-life business/politicians today (yes, Donald J. Trump). Some lessons are never learned. Fortunately, Welles' own story was never conceived of as a tragic rise and fall by the man himself, who knew that artistic pleasures were to be gained through the process rather than necessarily in the end product alone. However, with Kane, everything came together to produce an incredibly influential work of art that remains fresh 75 years later.