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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Citizen Kane can be found here.
When newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), once considered one of the richest and most powerful men in the world, dies alone in his extravagant mansion, clutching a snowglobe and uttering the word "Rosebud", news reporter Jerry Thompson (William Alland) is assigned the job of finding out who or what is "Rosebud." In doing so, Thompson's interviews with Charles' ex-wives Emily (Ruth Warrick) and Susan (Dorothy Comingore) and his various acquaintances provide insight into Kane's rise to fame and subsequent fall from glory.
Citizen Kane was filmed from an original screenplay by American screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz along with principle actor, director, and producer Orson Wells, with additional uncredited contributions by John Houseman, Roger Q. Denny, and Mollie Kent.
Yes. It is very loosely based on the life of William Randolph Hearst, one of the most famous newspaper publishers of all time. Hearst himself tried to prevent the film's release, claiming it defamed his reputation. He offered to buy all the negatives to have them destroyed and refused to allow the film to be advertised in his papers. More info here.
Since his mother (Agnes Moorehead) sent him away to be educated, Charles felt abandoned and most likely thought that attaining things would fill the hole that his mother left in his life.
Susan suggests that Thompson talk with Kane's butler Raymond (Paul Stewart) ("He knows where all the bodies are buried"), but all Raymond can tell him is that he was in the room when Kane died holding the snowglobe and uttering "rosebud." Later, as all the reporters gather at Xanadu in the big entry hall where the packing crates and statues are being taken prior to sale, Thompson admits to the other reporters that he never found out what "rosebud" meant, adding that it doesn't matter. "I don't think it explains anything. I don't think any word explains a man's life," he says. "Rosebud is just a piece in a jigsaw puzzle...a missing piece." The camera then pans across the piles and piles of items that Kane collected, finally resting on the sled he was playing with just before his mother turned him over to Walter Thatcher (George Coulouris) to raise. A worker picks up the sled and tosses it into a furnace along with other junk they are burning up. Across the top of the sled, the word "Rosebud" is clearly visible. As the flames consume the sled, the scene shifts to an exterior shot of Xanadu where smoke can be seen billowing out of the massive chimney. In the final scene, the camera pans out past the chain-link fence with the "No trespassing" sign on it.
Citizen Kane won a reputation as the greatest film ever made when it topped the 1962 Sight and Sound poll. It held the top spot for 50 years until it fell to second behind Vertigo (1958). The film is commonly praised for its intricate plot, filled with flashbacks that shuffle the chronology of Kane's life, its extraordinary performances, its marvelous technical stunts, and its deep-focus photography. Few if any of the technical effects are entirely original to Kane, but Orson Welles and his crew's masterly use of so many of them in one film has made Citizen Kane an influence on nearly everything that came after.
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