Matt's Review of Citizen Kane
Kane. What can I say about Kane that hasn't already been said? It is a movie the chronicles the basic American dream, the rise of the main protagonist and his eventual fall from grace such in the way of Icarus. It has been proclaimed as the greatest film of all time, having held 1st place on the influential Sight & Sound critics poll for 50 years and 1st on the American Film Institute's list of greatest American movies.
Kane starts off where most films would usually end, with the death of the main character, Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), a famous newspaper tycoon modeled after the real-life yellow journalist William Randolph Hearst. Kane's last words are the most talked about. "Rosebud." But what is Rosebud?
We follow a young journalist, Thompson, as he interviews "anyone who ever loved him." The rest of the story is told in flashback as we see a poor young boy whose luck soon changes when his family inherits money. He grows into a young man and because well-known through his newspaper and through his political attempts. We see his ego grow and become more megalomaniac-like. He is unable to find real love, something he has never truly obtained.
This motion picture is the magnum opus of boy wunderkind Orson Welles, fresh off of the plane from New York, where he did Mercury Theatre on the Air (an the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast). The movie itself is not about Rosebud. That's not the point of the picture. The point of the film is to portray a man, a giant among men. The movie deals with such things as wealth, being idealistic and ambition. All this being filmed fantastically by Gregg Tolland. If the script by Herman Mankiewicz and Welles is the structure and the heart of the film, the Tolland's cinematography are the liver and gallbladder.
Has it also been mentioned how this film uses special effects. In his commentary of the film, the late Roger Ebert said that the film makes use of matte paintings and in-camera tricks and double printing. In the commentary, Ebert claims that Kane has about as much special effects as Star Wars. A nice but bold claim. These special effects add to the magnificent magnitude of the life of Kane.
So, why do I think that this film is justly deserved for the term "greatest movie of all time?" Well, I guess it depends on your definition of greatest movie. To me, the greatest movie is one that influence other filmmakers. It's one that stands the test of time. It's one that entertains. It's one that makes you think, not just about what is happening in the story, but what is happening under the surface of the story. And I believe that Kane may fit these characteristic, influencing many generations of filmmakers and possibly many to come.
**** out of ****