Blu Rosebud

Warner Brothers’ newly released “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” of Citizen Kane, a magnificent Blu-ray package timed to coincide with the film’s 70th anniversary, is one of the most significant home video releases of all time and a must-buy for anyone who loves movies. Not only is this the definitive presentation of the film widely regarded as the greatest ever made (making up for several previously botched VHS and DVD releases), it also comes stuffed with copious supplemental materials. Some of these extras are admittedly worthless BUT among the goodies is a DVD of The Magnificent Andersons, Orson Welles’ great follow-up to Kane and a movie previously unavailable in any digital format in the United States. This release also provides me with a good excuse to finally blog about a film I’ve shown in the majority of my Intro to Film classes but never actually written about; it seems a daunting challenge to put fingers to keypad when the subject is an ivory tower masterpiece with mountains of published criticism already devoted to it. Nonetheless, here goes . . .

Let’s start by examining the film’s reputation as a colossal work not just of cinema but of twentieth century art and why it has been deemed worthy of the bells-and-whistles treatment from the good folks in the classics division of Warner Home Video. What is it that makes Citizen Kane so innovative and groundbreaking and massively influential? Two things: the visual style and the narrative structure. In terms of style, Citizen Kane is remarkable in that it shows the influence of almost all of the major historical film movements that had received international distribution up to the time of its release (it’s been noted that Citizen Kane was the first movie directed by someone who had obviously studied the history of cinema). And since Orson Welles had travelled the globe as a precocious young man while dabbling in several artistic mediums, he was already well-versed in these international film trends. It is therefore easy to note the influence on Kane of movements as far-flung as:

Narrative Continuity – Welles studied the rules of narrative continuity filmmaking before making Citizen Kane. Specifically, he studied John Ford’s Stagecoach, a particularly beautiful example of a classical narrative movie. While preparing Kane, Welles screened Stagecoach every day for over a month and watched it with different members of his crew each time. Throughout the screenings, Welles would ask his technicians questions to try and figure out how Ford had put his movie together. It was from Stagecoach that Welles learned the basic rules of narrative continuity (how to shoot and edit a scene so that time, space and action continue smoothly from one shot to the next). It may also have been the inspiration for Citizen Kane‘s much commented upon low angle shots, in which the ceilings of the sets are clearly visible, a rarity for the time.

German ExpressionismCitizen Kane features the most artful and self-conscious instances of high contrast and low-key lighting, courtesy of ace cinematographer Gregg Toland, that had ever been seen in a Hollywood film up to 1941. A good example is the scene that occurs in a screening room early in the movie when a group of reporters converse about a newsreel on the life of the late Charles Foster Kane. The contrast between the light and dark areas in the frame of every shot in this scene is extremely dramatic with the faces of each character intentionally hidden by shadows even while the light from the projector behind them is blindingly white. This is also the audience’s introduction to the character of Thompson, the reporter who will spend the rest of the film interviewing Kane’s closest living acquaintances to complete the documentary. Fittingly, we will never clearly see Thompson’s face throughout the movie, a strategy that allows Welles to posit this character as a surrogate for the viewer.

Soviet Montage – Welles was familiar with the the Soviet Montage films of the 1920s (as evidenced by his rapidly edited debut short The Hearts of Age) and Citizen Kane features several impressive montage scenes. The most beloved is probably the exceedingly clever breakfast table montage where the disintegration of the marriage between Kane and his first wife Emily is condensed into a two minute sequence spanning many years. In the first part of the scene, Kane and his new bride are sitting virtually side-by-side and engaging in flirtatious banter. Here, Kane looks like the impossibly young and dashingly handsome man that Welles was. Then, as the scene progresses and the convincing middle-age make-up is piled on, the distance between Kane and Emily, both physical and emotional, increases to the point where the characters are no longer speaking but reading rival newspapers in icy silence instead. The depressing nature of the scene is effectively offset by the wittiness of Welles’ staging and cutting.

French Poetic Realism – Poetic Realism, a movement that defined itself in opposition to Soviet Montage in terms of style, was predicated on long takes and long shots. Citizen Kane has these qualities in spades, which is unsurprising given Welles’ fondness for the films of Jean Renoir (Welles once cited Grand Illusion as his favorite movie of all time); but Welles’ predilection for deep-focus cinematography saw him push the style to an operatic extreme that even Renoir would have never dreamed of attempting. A newly released super-fast film stock allowed for a greater depth of field than ever before and Welles took full advantage by composing images in which important visual information would appear simultaneously in the extreme foreground and extreme background of a shot. A good example is the dialogue scene between Walter Thatcher and Mr. and Mrs. Kane inside of a boarding house in which young Charlie can be observed playing in the snow through a window in the distance behind them.

Documentary FilmCitizen Kane bears the influence of the documentary/non-fiction mode of filmmaking, especially in its opening faux-newsreel sequence “News on the March” (a parody of the “March of Time” newsreels of the day). Welles’ masterful employment of specific aesthetic qualities associated with this mode of filmmaking (jump-cuts, heavily scratched footage, handheld camera shots, etc.) conveys a sense of realism while also greatly adding to the visual wit of the film.

In terms of narrative, Citizen Kane also had a more complex and intricate flashback structure than what had ever been seen in a Hollywood movie up to that point. The bulk of the narrative is taken up by five lengthy flashback sequences. The film begins with the death of its protagonist, Charles Foster Kane, and then skips back over his life in non-chronological order as Thompson listens to (and in one case reads) the reminiscences of those who were closest to him. These recollections serve as the catalysts for the flashbacks, which allow Welles to cleverly introduce the idea of the unreliable narrator. That is to say, none of the five flashbacks necessarily represent the way things “really happened”; instead, they represent the way each character remembers them happening. Notice, for instance, how much more likable Kane is in Mr. Bernstein’s recollection of him than in that of Mr. Leland. Another function of the flashbacks is to allow for abrupt shifts in tone. Throughout Citizen Kane, as we jump from one point-of-view to another, we also jump from one film genre to another. Among the many genres encompassed by Kane are: the biopic (the rise and fall of a great man who bears a strong resemblance to a real life figure), the newspaper reporter movie (a popular genre in the ’30s and ’40s in which a reporter attempts to uncover the truth in pursuit of a story), the mystery (who or what is Rosebud?), the backstage musical (Susan Alexander preparing for her opera debut is similar to the “hey, we’re putting on a show”-type of musicals popular in the ’30s) and even the romantic comedy (a meet-cute involving Kane, Susan and a mud-splattering, horse-drawn carriage).

However, as innovative as Kane remains in terms of both form and content, it also crucially remains a hell of a lot of fun to watch. If it were merely an academic exercise in, say, giving viewers a guided tour through the history of world cinema, it likely would not have achieved the enduring popularity it has enjoyed with both the critics and the public alike. The film’s innovations are all rooted in a sense of excitement and wonder concerning the capabilities of the medium (note the clever logic behind virtually every scene transition, whether visual or aural, in the entire movie). This is no doubt why Pauline Kael said that it may be “more fun than any great movie I can think of.”

Warner Brothers’ high-definition digital transfer of Citizen Kane greatly improves upon all previous home video releases. This includes a 50th anniversary VHS edition “supervised” by editor Robert Wise that appeared overly bright and had purists complaining about attempts to “normalize” the film’s radical style as well as a 60th anniversary DVD edition in which fine object detail was lost due to an overzealous “restoration.” The Blu-ray corrects both problems by presenting Kane the way it was meant to look: with blacks rich and inky in the high contrast sequences, with incredible clarity and detail visible in all shots (including a restoration of the rain falling outside of Bernestein’s window that had been notoriously scrubbed off of the previous DVD) and a nice sheen of film grain over everything. The soundtrack is wisely presented only as a lossless rendering of the original mono track. No attempts to create a new 5.1 surround track could improve upon Welles’ glorious, incredibly innovative original mono mix in which a creative use of sound effects, a superb Bernard Herrmann score (his first!), and the mellifluous voices of some of the greatest theatrical and screen actors of all time jockey for the viewer’s attention. It is simply impossible for me to imagine this greatest of American films ever looking or sounding better on a home theater system. If that sounds hyperbolic, well, sometimes only hyperbole will do.

About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

31 responses to “Blu Rosebud

  • jilliemae

    Something else that I love about this box set, and especially its extra features, is that it is accessible to those of us who are not too familiar with the film or the director. When I watched the audio commentary (with you) I was immediately sucked in; the information was gripping!

  • michaelgloversmith

    Yes, the Roger Ebert commentary track is truly outstanding. There’s another one with Peter Bogdanovich that I probably won’t get around to listening to until next year.

    And a big public thank you to YOU for the early anniversary present!

  • gokkasten

    Awesome blog, it’s just like a game for me! It’s so infomative and usefull, thanks a lot! If you post more of this great stuff, I’ll visit your blog again!

  • 2011: The Year of the Orson « White City Cinema

    […] had complete creative control over, has been the subject of controversy. As I pointed out several months ago, Citizen Kane has been released in multiple VHS and DVD editions over the years that have failed to […]

  • Top Ten Home Video Releases of 2011 « White City Cinema

    […] Citizen Kane finally gets the home video treatment it deserves courtesy of Warner Bros.’ staggeringly elaborate new box set, which includes by far the most film-like (and thus best ever) presentation it has seen in terms of image and sound. It also includes a handsomely-produced hardback book about the making of the film, postcards, an excellent quality DVD of Welles’ follow-up The Magnificent Ambersons (its North American digital debut) and a whole host of other goodies that I won’t be able to finish going through until probably late into 2012. To paraphrase Mr. Thatcher, I wish I were a little boy watching this movie for the first time in this particular edition! Full review here. […]

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    […] year ago, I reviewed the new blu-ray of Citizen Kane and analyzed that film as a kind of self-conscious “synthesis” of all the major […]

  • Biljana Stefanovic

    You can definitely tell that Welles did his fair share of studying narrative continuity, because Citizen Kane is a great example of that. I have to say that the editing of this film is pretty phenomenal, and something that you would see in movies today. It is hard to believe that this movie, with such advanced editing techniques, was made in 1941 especially by someone as young as Welles. I can definitely understand why you had us watch this film. I also noted the clever logic behind every scene transition. Even throughout all of the flashback, and montage, scenes the editing is unbelievably smooth and well put together. All of these scenes brilliantly correlate to one another, throughout. For example: The movie starts off with Welles on his death bed, moaning, “Rosebud!” before the glass falls out of his hand and drops to the ground. Then, fast forward to one of the flashbacks scenes, there was a montage of Welles second wife trying to put a puzzle together. We then hear the following dialogue, “Well, I guess that Rosebud is just a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.” Towards the end of the movie we finally find out who, and what, Rosebud actually was – the main character’s sled. I know that the students did not all seem to agree about this, but I feel like Rosebud was more than just a sled, it was the one thing that Welles could not keep; which was the one thing that he truly wanted – the ability to stay with his family where he belonged, and where he would have the ability to fully enjoy his childhood. Maintain his young, youthful innocence versus becoming corrupt and hated. I also liked the witty comedic flare of this film, for example: when you hear his second wife sing, which was pretty bad, and then the camera cuts to a some type of bird with a loud, obnoxious shriek. I could barely tolerate her normal speaking voice, let alone her singing voice. This movie did leave me in suspense, not only about the whole Rosebud scene, but also because of his first wife and son. What ever happened to them?

    • michaelgloversmith

      Thanks for being first to respond! I’m glad you mentioned the line of dialogue in which Rosebud is referred to as a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle. The use of puzzles as a visual motif throughout the film is a metaphor for what both Thompson (the reporter) and we, the viewer, are trying to do: put the “pieces” of Kane’s life together so that it all makes sense.

      As for the first wife and son, they died together in a car wreck. It’s mentioned during the fake newsreel at the beginning of the film.

  • Tyler Hurst

    In your blog you say Welles was one of the first directors to use flashbacks to tell the narrative in a film. I found that impressive that Welles was that innovative at such a young age while also having the guts to try something that audiences had never seen before.
    I thought the high and low contrast lighting of the film was truely incredible, being used with such precision and more artistically done than most movies that come out today.

  • Dorota Sadowska

    Technically speaking, if we were to have only one Film class session, the Citizen Kane would be an adequate screening selection. As deservedly pointed out, Welles’ innovativeness can and should be recognized far beyond the 1940’s. While being influenced by a variety of historical film movements, Welles not only created a narrative master shtick, he also artfully developed a complex psychological profile that never stops intriguing. In reference to Blu Rosebud, Citizen Kane’s intricate flashback structure is a perfect exemplification of how different our perception of human behavior is. Moreover, Welles does not portray the main character for us entirely. Instead, the viewer himself has to suspect, analyze, and discover the missing pieces. In consequence, Welles leaves us cliff-hanging and suspect full. In response to a breakfast montage scene mentioned in Blu Rosebud, unquestionably – this scene embodies edit at its finest! Another montage scene skillfully edited by Welles is the shot that recapitulates the clashing personalities of Susan and Charlie, who persuaded her to sing in despite of her incapability and lack of interest. The sequence of events – Susan’s opera performance, Inquirer headlines, expressions of emotions are all build-into a one shot. With regards to Blu Rosebud: “… as innovative as Kane remains in terms of both form and content, it also crucially remains a hell of a lot of fun to watch”. Indeed, Citizen Kane – as it was in the past – it will remain the must-see film for the current and the future generations.

  • Saturday

    I think this review is phenomenal with wonderful evidence from the movie. After reading this review, it gave me a different perception of the film- particularly the point made about unreliable narrator. To me, I think that a person has many facets in one’s own persona. Depending on who the person is with, i.e. a friend vs. a lover, they have a different role and manner of behaving, and therefore how Charles is remembered by Bernstein over Susan differs in the sense of what he means to them and what he chooses to show to them as a person. Although “unreliable” the five perspectives were able to paint a common view of Charles’ character: obsessed with gaining love from everyone. Leland mentions that Charles only loves himself and even Susan recalls the scene when Charles leaves Emily for the “love of the people.”

    From my perspective, this film seemed to be centered on a man’s struggle with abandonment and his coping mechanism for it. His feeling of abandonment stems from his childhood when his parents send him to live with Thatcher. Although Charles’ mother was treating him distantly (perhaps to prevent herself from feeling attached), she was sending him away with good intentions of obtaining a better rich life and away from her husband’s physical abuse. “That’s why he’ll be brought up where you can’t get him.” Charles’ mother directs to her husband when he says that Charles needs a “good thrashing.” In that scene, Charles only focuses on his mother asking, “You going Ma? Why aren’t you coming with us Mom?” thus showing his close bond with her. This is where his struggles for love from any source begins. He seeks out everyone’s love to fill that void. With his first wife Emily he tried for love, but it was only for himself. Then when he meets Susan he speaks about his mother’s death and needing to obtain something from storage; in his own words a “sentimental search for his youth.” Later the conversation shifts to Susan about her mother’s desire for her to become a singer. When Susan says, “Well you know what mothers are like,” the scene moves into a close up of Charles’ solemn teary face. It seems to show how deeply attached he is towards his mother. Even this marriage with Susan couldn’t recapture love. It seemed as if Charles had a plight of finding the love he lost in his childhood: his mother’s love. When he couldn’t handle his situation, hoarding and collecting items was a method to cope near the end i.e. statues and other jargon.

    In the end I think that Rosebud represented the last vestiges of his childhood and the love he lost. That was the last sentimental memory he had of his mother before he was taken away and the turning point in his life.


    • michaelgloversmith

      Great job noting the intense connection between Charles and his mother, Manali. I’m glad you cited the moment where Susan says to Charles “You know what mothers are like.” His response is priceless, a barely audible: “Yes, I know.”

      I also agree with you about all of these different perspectives on Charles Foster Kane adding up to a truthful portrait of who he is.

  • Saba Zikaria

    As lucky as I am to be in Professor Smiths class, to be fortunate enough to experience all these amazing ancient movies in best quality, its hard to explain how even more exciting it is to be able to discuss movies in a sense that is so different. In the class we discussed Citizen Kane, and the use of make-up that was used throughout the journey of Thompson’s interviewing. Like you said in the blog the make-up is very cleverly used to distinct between the time, age and the person Thompson was interviewing. To me, the make-up transformed the film into almost an horror movie. It did the job of making the characters look appropriate according the certain age, but in a way at some point I thought the skin would fall right off and the splash of flush would be exposed.

    Also, another interesting that I would have never caught on if you hadn’t mentioned it, was how Thompson (the interviewer) never actually had his face revealed completely too long to be noticed. Thank you for opening my eyes to something very interesting.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I love your comment about the old-age makeup making the film resemble a horror movie! I think it strikes us that way because we see the same characters when they’re young as well as when their old. When we see their “transformation,” it does indeed make death and decay the subjects of the film.

      Also, great observation about viewers not being able to see Thompson’s face clearly. I think the point is that we are supposed to be able to put ourselves into his shoes more easily. He is the character we identify with because he, like us, is the character to whom the stories in the film are being told.

  • Jen H

    Starting out with a shot of a “no trespassing” sign, followed by fading shots of various fencing superimposed, and combined with the “scary” music created a sense of fear in me. This fading with moments of superimposition continues throughout the next series of shots where the images vary. We see a mansion, monkeys in a cage, boats, various outdoor scenes, lips saying “rosebud”, a snow globe breaking, and finally a dead body. This is a characteristic of the Soviet montage style. This soviet montage style can in fact be seen throughout the movie. We can see it again with a series of wipes, when the making of Xanadu’s mountain is being described. This is also where we can see the incorporation of a voice over narration, which is a characteristic of the documentary style. The narration describes how Xanadu’s mountain was made and then goes into a summary of the life and death of Charles Kane.
    Multiple film styles are used in this film, and right from the beginning of the film we can see the influence of German expressionism. When we see the shot of the dead body and a nurse pulling a blanket over it, there is a high contrast from the window brightness and the rest of the room. The window throws a small amount of light over the middle of both the dead body and nurse. This small amount of light highly contrasts against the rest of the room which is almost pitch-black. This contrast is emphasized by the medium shot being focused right on the middle of their bodies, where the light strikes; we are unable to see the rest of their bodies, including their heads, and therefore our focus is drawn to this chiaroscuro effect from the low-key lighting. This influence of German expressionism appears throughout the film. Another good example of this high contrast aspect is during the scene where we see a group of reporters in a screening room. There is brightness from the screen and windows, and we can see whatever the light touches, but the rest of the room is extremely dark to the point we can barely see the men’s faces. There are far too many instances of low-key lighting to mention, and they all help lend to the mysterious and rather dark undertones of this movie.
    Deep focus cinematography is of course also used throughout this film. Rather than only having the foreground in focus with a blurry background, we can instead see that the foreground, middle-ground, and background are all in perfect focus. An example of this can be seen in the scene where Charles is being taken from his parents as a young boy. We can see the boy out playing in the snow through the window, as well as those inside talking about his imminent removal from this happy place, in the foreground.
    There are also several low angle shots. For instance in the scene when Charles Kane first took over the Inquirer, and then again in the scene after he has lost the race for governor. Perhaps this is used to emphasize his need for acceptance? It is also in this scene after the race, where we find one of several instances of poetic realism. It is a long shot and a long take, and allows our eye to roam the room and notice all of the banners and disheveled decorations, which allows the feeling of his world collapsing to be stressed.
    Although the narrative structure of this film is a series of flashbacks, as seen through the eyes of those being interviewed, we can still see narrative continuity. Although they are out of order, each individual scene follows the rules of narrative continuity and together tells the overall story of Charles Kane’s life.
    I think Welles does a wonderful job of incorporating various film styles to create a wonderfully innovative and complex work of art.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Thanks for the lengthy response, Jen. I appreciate your use of detailed examples of all of the various movements discussed in class. It’s incredible the way Welles is able to blend so many various styles and tones into something that feels so unified, no? You’re right that the film does begin like a horror movie (the opening shots feel like it’s going to be a haunted house story — and in a way that’s what it is). Expressionism is probably the biggest single influence on the film.

      I’m particularly glad that you mentioned the deep-focus shot where young Charles is playing in the snow in perfect focus in the background while the adults who are deciding his fate are inside the boarding house in the foreground. I’ve always felt that this shot suggested that young Charles was like a puppet and the adults were like the puppet masters pulling his strings.

  • Sheryl Stanislaus

    I really like the montage sequences that are in the film, especially the breakfast table montage that you mentioned in the blog. I like how as the montage progresses, you see Charles being affectionate towards Emily by kissing her forehead and telling how beautiful she is to sitting across from her and just reading his newspaper. Using a montage sequence was a great way to save time and show how their marriage was falling apart.

    When I saw this montage, it sort of reminded me of the montage sequence in Groundhog Day where the character Phil tried different suicide methods. The type of methods would get progressively worse as he first tried to electrocute himself to then just jumping off a building. That montage showed how risky each suicide attempt was becoming just like how the breakfast montage in Citizen Kane showed how Charles and Emily’s marriage was dissolving.

  • Dario Kulic

    Citizen Kane showed many visual styles that we have studied so far in class and it truly shows that Orson Welles was a master of cinematography. His film had artistic flair to how the story was being told by different types of people in his life and those stories were more subjective to the story which then of course kind of made the all 5 flashbacks have an “unreliable narrator”. Like you said professor this movie was known for two things ” Visual style and Narrative structure”. Welles was a genius when it came down to building up his character, he went from a meek child that didn’t want to leave his parents to a old miserable guy that is surrounded with all his earthly treasures. That one scene when they showed all his treasures reminded me of an episode of HOARDERS. People just keeping things for the sake they may need it later. In reality, when you are gone all your things are just things. I particularly liked how Kane manipulated people in thinkng his second wife was a opera star. The montage of Newspaper headlines stating that his wife was superb and a new rising star was hilarious. When finally his marriage dissolved over the years with his second wife i remember this quote which will stick with me ” everything was his idea, except my leaving”. It just shows how much of a control freak Kane was. He planned every little detail and knew exactly how to manipulate people into getting what he wants. It was always about how he felt and how things affected him. In the end, he becomes like Thatcher, we are always fearful of people we are to become. He despised Thatcher and wanted nothing from him even though he raised him like a son.

  • MirnaY

    Welles used German Expression, narrative continuity, soviet montage, narrative structure, lightening, camera movement, shots and visual motif all these together unlike other movies that we watched in class. at the beginning of the movie, Welles showed us a sign saying no trespass then a shot of Kanes mansion alone with scary sound indicating the evil and throughout the movie, it showed us how much evil and mean he was. the visual motif in the movie was when Kane was thinking about the Rosebud since he was a kid until he got old. this movie had 5 flask backs interviewing with 5 people about the Rosebud; Thatcher, Bernstein(manager), Leland (friend), Susan, and Raymond.

  • Aric_JK

    Overall I thought it was one of the best narratives I have seen or read. It seemed like Kane was searching for acceptance from everyone but this acceptance to me was centered around his desire for acceptance and love from his mother. In the scene where he first meets Susan and they are on the couch, he lets it slip that he was on the way to his warehouse where he had all of his mother’s thing stored and alludes to reminiscing with her stuff. I feel that he was on his way to look at his sled, Rosebud. The lovely Susan came along and distracted him from this. I think he then transferred his feelings towards her as she took the place of his mother. He did great things, bought many expensive items, including building her Xanadu as a way of trying to gain her love. I feel he did this as he didn’t know how to show love any other way and he expected love in return since that is all he knew. In the scene where she is leaving and he says “you can’t do this to me,” I feel it has a deeper meaning to it and it was a dark pain and those words were actually meant for his mother for having him sent away.

  • Abdullah Qaisar

    No doubt Citizen Kane is a deep work of art. However, while watching the film for the first time, I was not all that impressed questioning what distinguishes this film than the rest? Why is it classified as the best film? Part of the reason is that many people including myself judge a film only based on the story. Movies are something more ; As Mr. SMith points out, Citizen kane is unique in the manner of its style and narrative structure. There is no doubt that much thought was put in to this film. It may just be analogous to the English novel To Kill a Mocking Bird in the literature world.

    This was the first time I payed attention to the usage of French Poetic Realism. Personally, I like this idea better than Soviet Montage. I feel it is more proper in a film compared to bunch of shots. Although, I appreciate the power and idea of montage.

    Overall, I’m glad I read this review. It broadened my perspective and understanding on Citizen Kane. Mr. Smith did a wonderful job dissecting this film. Now, I might relish watching this film one more time!

  • diamondj91

    For me, it was hard to put into words how I felt about this Film after I had seen it until you put it into words in this review. I definitely agree this film was a gem or it’s time and rarity which is why it garnered critically positive reviews. It’s because the plot and story itself is very slice of life. The cinematography was like no other. The lush visuals are eye candy for any film buff. (I guess the Blu-ray really helped enhance this also) I was impressed by the aged makeup Welles wore. Very believable. The narrative continuity was well-played, and the casting was spot on.

  • Olimpia

    I like that fact that this movie combined most techniques that we covered in class. We can see most historical film movements we have learned so far. It was interesting that Kane’s story started when he was a boy and the all crux of this film illustrates how much he was hurt when he was taken away from his family. Even his great career in publishing world didn’t solve his issues. The beginning of his childhood affected his adult life badly and no money can buy mother’s love.

  • Scott Gallagher

    “Citizen Kane” critically acclaimed as one of the greatest films of all time by many film critics directors and general lovers of cinema . Directed by Olsen Wells does a masterful portrayal of the plight of greed dissatisfaction and emptiness that so many try to fill through materialistic consumption..At an early age Kane’s family came into a substantial amount of wealth in which Kane was to one day inherit this vast fortune from this moment his fate was sealed as he was taken from his parents to shape and properly educate him so by the time that he came into this wealth he’d be well groomed and smart enough how to develop said fortune further , Through out the flashbacks in the movie we see small things in his mannerism;s that really bring out that sense of emptiness he had felt despite how many possessions and the luxurious means that he lived by the one thing that he always truly desired eluded him not only because of the literal fact that he could not recapture his childhood but also what seems worse is that he could only realize this upon his death bed that what he really desired was to regain that time that he lost with his parents. Welles’ use of flashback narrative made for a very interesting concept the idea of truly understanding what shaped the character the combination of the multiple viewpoints coming together at the end gave multiple perspective until it tied itself together at the end . All and all orison more then anyone else truly portrays the expression money will bring you no happiness only sorrow perfectly .

    • Scott Gallagher

      Not sure if its possible to make edits upon my post but i apologize for the misspelling
      of Welles name a few times .

  • Sam Mitchell

    Recently in class we had a chance to view citizen Kane. wells gave a very unique deep piece of work. From the use of German expressionism to the soviet montage glimpse. also the different beginning as how it starts with a documentary twist.twist. Citizen Kane had everything for the dialogue to the light usage i really liked it.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    Hey Smith,
    I have the Digibook edition of Citizen Kane and I have to say when I first popped it in my bluray player I was totally amazed by the way that Warner Brothers cleaned up the film. I also have seen the film on multiple different formats and have never seen the film look this good!!!! Its crazy to think about that one of the most influential films of all times was distributed by a studio that often gets a bad rap. RKO really has distributed some of most interesting films, even though they aren’t always the best quality like a lot of the bigger studios, I always tell people should check out Tourneur’s ” I Walk with a Zombie”. I happened to study this film quite a bit in one of my classes last semester, learning these basic film era’s over the last few weeks really made me rethink about the film and how it can almost apply to almost every major film movement up to the release in 1941. While I don’t think the film is the greatest ever made like a lot of people, the film has one of my favorite scenes of all time. It occurs during the beginning of the film when we see Thatcher come to take Kane away to live with him, in the background we see Kane playing in the snow with “Rosebud”. Instead of having a shot of Kane playing outside cutting back with the Kane’s mother and father discussing with Thatcher, Welles decides to shoot the scene with Kane in the background of a large window. We never see Kane leave the middle of the shot which our eye always focuses on. Welles wants us to know that whats occurring in front of us will change Kane’s entire life and shape who he is as a person. When we finally see Thatcher go outside to take Kane with him we totally care about what will become of Kane, we already know the outcome of the film but we still care to see how this experience and the experiences of the future shape him to be one of the most richest men at the time.

    Overall I totally respect what Welles did at the time for cinema. We never saw anyone at the time who made a deeply engaging film like Citizen Kane. The film is such a fantastic learning tool for anyone who is learning about film because of all the attributes that Welles through into the film, I think that’s why I think the film today still holds up as one of the top 100 best films ever made.

    Hope ya enjoyed my comment, sorry I wrote it early, I was just in such a mood to write today.

    Talk to ya Soon


    • michaelgloversmith

      Hey, thanks for the response! I too was blown away by the CITIZEN KANE Blu when I first saw it (and I had previously seen it on every conceivable home-video format — from VHS to laserdisc to DVD to this).

      RKO did indeed do incredible things and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE is a masterwork. My favorite of the Val Lewton horror cycle though is THE SEVENTH VICTIM (about Satan worshippers in Greenwich Village). Have you seen that? I need to show it in a class at some point soon!

      See you tomorrow,


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