Classics Review: Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane was released in 1941. It earned positive reviews from critics and movie goers alike. Despite critical acclaim over the years, the film actually flopped at the box office. Regardless of failing to make a profit, Citizen Kane became an eligible nominee at The Academy Awards winning “Best Original Screenplay” (Orson Welles) Unfortunately, Orson never won “Best Director” nor “Best Picture.”

Today, Citizen Kane continues to inspire many filmmakers including Christopher Nolan, (my favorite director) Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin, Sam Mendes, Luc Besson, Michael Mann, Kenneth Branagh, Roger Corman, Sydney Pollack, The Coen Brothers, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, John Frankenheimer, Brian De Palma, Ridley Scott & Stanley Kubrick. Others such as Doug Walker/Nostalgia Critic, Jack White & the late Roger Ebert all mentioned Citizen Kane as one of their all time favorite movies.

Citizen Kane is a textbook example in film schools for any would be filmmakers eager to make into The Film Industry. The American Film Institute selected Citizen Kane as one of the greatest movies of all time. Many consider it as the best (if not the best) movie. It’s also the very first LaserDisc on The Criterion Collection.

I’ve decided to watch Citizen Kane upon learning this is one of Christopher Nolan’s favorite films and he considers Orson Welles as an influence on his work. As a fan of Christopher Nolan, I want to gear up for his movie before “Tenet” comes out. Recently, it’s August release date got delayed due to the ongoing Coronavirus. As of today, I have no idea when Tenet will actually come out. All we can do is try to stay home, wear a mask, use soap or sanitizer if you want to prevent the virus from spreading.

Today’s review contains SPOILERS, due to the fact we all know what happens at the end thanks to countless parodies or references like Peter Griffin from “Family Guy” spoiling the final scene.

Magnificent & Weak Elements

Magnificent: Orson Welles did an excellent job for his performance as Charles Foster Kane. He also did an excellent job writing & directing.

Fun Fact: Roger Ebert himself did a DVD commentary of his all-time favorite movie that made him a movie critic.

Cinematography at the time developed unique shots using “Deep Focus.” A camera technique using large in-depth field with a huge background and the figure standing in the foreground. Don’t forget a tracking shot with the camera moving towards Kane during his election campaign to become a governor. “The Simpsons” later spoofed Kane’s election with Mr. Burns giving his own speech and poster behind him imitating the movie.

My favorite shot of the entire movie is when Kane walks to the mirror with a heavy emphasis of a deep focus shot.

Future director, Robert Wise actually was an editor of the film. He did a good job. Now that’s what I call an epic start for an underdog to a champion directing “The Sound of Music” winning “Best Director” & “Best Picture.”

Alfred Hitchcock collaborator, Bernard Hermann (Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest) composed music. This was surprisingly his first time composing. First Orson Welles, Robert Wise, now Bernard Hermann. Three underdogs transformed into icons in cinema history.

Prosthetic Makeup was used to apply Orson to make him look like an old man. In real life, Orson looked completely different past his prime, growing a beard and gaining a lot of weight.

Primary Theme for the film is about fame and fortune won’t make you feel happy, it will corrupt you as a lonely person without anybody attending your last moments in life.

The Opening Scene establishes Kane’s mansion. If you’ve already seen this movie, “Rosebud” is his last words and one of the best lines in movie history.

Throughout the film, many flashbacks reveal Kane’s backstory from his colleagues and family members in order to understand the meaning “Rosebud.”

We all know the word, “Rosebud” actually means sled. It represented Kane’s happiness back when he was kid before media & politics turned him into a negative person. In retrospect, this Plot Twist definitely deserves Bonus Points. I bet many movie goers gasp upon witnessing the final shot of the movie. They must’ve felt speechless.

Weak: I’m gonna come clean fellas. No cons were found. I’m giving Orson an Extra Point for making a flawless film as possible. Not bad for a then first-time filmmaker.

The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!

Without a doubt, Citizen Kane is a masterpiece continuing to inspire many filmmakers. Numerous film schools select this movie as a guide for students to become filmmakers spanning many generations from past, present and future. If you’re curious to see Orson Welles’ Magnum Opus, I strongly recommend it.

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