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Citizen Kane (1941)

This early 40’s film is considered one of the best films ever produced. This cinematic wonder directed, co-written, produced, and starring Orson Welles tells of a man named Charles Foster Kane who is extremely affluent in society but is never quite satisfied with life. The film begins by talking about the death of Charles Foster Kane.  The scene is plagued by a distant shot of Xanadu leaving the viewer curious as to why a giant mansion bearing the initial “K” is sort of rundown and/or abandoned. At the end of the film, the mansion is shown in the same chiaroscuro manner with smoke rising from the furnaces. Throughout the movie, the audience is shown a series of flashbacks and newsreels which pertain to the lifestyle of Mr. Kane from his earliest years spent at his family home on a farm to his final days living in his luxurious mansion named Xanadu.

Citizen Kane featured many symbols but by far the most significant symbol mentioned throughout the entire movie was the name “Rosebud.” For example, the film begins with a reporter named Thompson who begins his search for the meaning of Mr. Kane’s last words, particularly the name Rosebud.  The plot centers around this journalist and the numerous memories people and books had about the life and times of Charles Kane.  There are numerous scenes throughout the movie where the camera would focus on the snow, Kane’s pleasure in childhood, and his sled’s which offer a hint to the audience about the meaning of “Rosebud.” The significance of Rosebud is that Charles Kane went through life not enjoying the lifestyle money could buy.  Rosebud was his childhood sled which he enjoyed because it brought him happiness when money could not create the same joy he had as a child.

Another great characteristic to this film was imagery which was very good to say the least.  The film used very nice camera angles and light variations to illustrate the characters positions and emotions.  There were a few scenes in the film where the camera would be centered at face level and other times the camera was on the ground looking up.  These scenes showed domineering stances as well as showing who the audience was to focus on in a specific scene.  The visual effects used by Orson Welles and his cinematographer were quite good in a sense that the camera movements were applied well.  The close-ups and distant viewing techniques were successful in showing the emotions of the actor/actress and they were great in showing the distance characters had from one another.  Another interesting attribute used in this film was the use of mirrors.  One of the last scenes in the film makes use of the mirrors to show that the camera can encompass two different sets and angles at once.

Citizen Kane also had a very controversial plot.  The story behind Charles Foster Kane is said to be very similar to the life story of a media conglomerate of the time named William Randolph Hearst.   The story is pretty straightforward meaning the plot does not deviate too far off the beaten track.  The classic film Citizen Kane does an excellent job of entertaining the audience with its intriguing plot and surprising but sad ending.

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