Friday, August 30, 2013

Citizen Kane (1941)

Today's film is Citizen Kane.  It is widely regarded as one of the best films ever.  So I was skeptical of a film that requires such high expectations.  However, this film is indeed fantastic.
I already had the ending spoiled by Family Guy, so I decided to watch it first just to enjoy the film, and second to look for clues that would reveal the ending.
Even though the film shows Charles Kane as a great man, in reality he's a sad person.  That's why the sled is so important.  It represents his childhood being taken away from him.  He even attacks Mr. Thatcher with the sled.  His mom didn't help things either.  Look how cold she is.  It's obvious that she wanted to get rid of him at the first opportunity.  When Mr. Thatcher comes to pick him up, she tells him that she's had his things packed for a week.  His dad wants to raise him, but doesn't try very hard.

Kane doesn't want money, he wants his childhood back.  He says if he didn't have money, he could have been a great man.  He wrote that he was not interested in oil or gold mines, but that it might be fun to run a newspaper.

If he wanted his childhood back so badly, why didn't he build his home in Colorado?  He built his Xanadu palace in Florida.  That's the worst place for sledding. There's no steep hills or snow here.  He should have built his palace in Colorado, and go sledding all the time.  He had the money to do so, except he just kept buying and buying stuff he didn't need.  People gain hoarding tendencies when they are trying to fill a void.  He was taken away from his parents to be raised by a bank and later had two unfulfilling marriages.  So he filled the void in his lonely heart with lots and lots of stuff.

Everyone praised Kane for being such a great person, a business man who turned a failing newspaper into a great empire.  But, hardly anyone knew him as a person and I don't think he allowed anyone to get too close to him.  Even with his wives there was always a wall there, or he buried himself in his work.

The best part was the making of this movie.  Orson Welles co-wrote, directed and starred in this film, and it was his first major film.  And he was only 25 years old!  To show the passing of time, everyone wore makeup to look much younger in some scenes and older in others.  The old people makeup left much to be desired, but it's still good for 1941.  And the lighting is perfect.  I love how it produces all the different shades of grey and always provides much visual interest.  The story is okay, but it's the cinematography that's beautiful.  It almost seems effortless.  I will give this film a 10/10.


  1. If you still have the DVD I highly recommend listening to Roger Ebert's commentary track for this film. It might be the best I've ever heard. It's very informative and he points out many things I did not pick up on like the lit window in the opening shots remaining in the same spot on the screen with every successive closer shot of the house. There's also a pterodactyl flying through the trees in the background in one shot because they borrowed a background scene from, I believe, King Kong.

    1. Thank you, that's very informative. I can't believe I didn't notice a pterodactyl!

  2. Yes, a great film indeed, although I actually missed the clue on first viewing...
    I guess Xanadu was all about making up for a lost childhood with all the crazy stuff he was buying. My favourite scenes are when he runs for office and we get all those larger than life shots. They are just amazing and have been copied ever since.

    1. True, I don't know if I would have figured out what Rosebud was if it wasn't spoiled for me.