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It's a difficult undertaking for someone of my generation to watch a film
like CITIZEN KANE. Not because it's "too old" or "too boring", but because
it has been hailed--almost universally--as the single best motion picture
ever made. And while the anticipation of seeing a film with such
overwhelming acclaim may be quite exhilarating, actually watching it is
ultimately an intimidating and somewhat disappointing experience.
This isn't to say that I thought CITIZEN KANE was a bad film; in fact, I thought everything about it was downright brilliant. From the enchanting performances right down to the meticulously planned camera movements and clever lighting tricks, there isn't a single element of CITIZEN KANE that isn't a stunning achievement in all areas of filmmaking.
CITIZEN KANE's storyline is deceptively simple. Even though the plot unfolds by jumping in and out of nonlinear flashbacks, it is surprisingly easy to keep track of. The straightforwardness and relatively fast pace of the story are what make it seem intimidating. Because everything moves smoothly along without any standstill, it feels like we are being fooled-like there is something much greater that we just can't seem to grasp. As a first-time viewer, I knew from its reputation that there must be *something* that separates this movie from all the others; something buried within its simple plotline that everybody else has seen, but that I just could not seem to get a handle on. And then, during those final frames, that something was revealed, and it all began to make sense. To me, it was these moments of confusion and uncertainty followed by a sense of enlightenment and appreciation that made watching CITIZEN KANE such a meaningful experience.
But no matter how great of a movie CITIZEN KANE really is, it can never live up to one's expectations. Although I do feel that it is deserving of its acclamation, the constant exposure to its six decades worth of hype and praise will invariably set most modern viewers' standards at a height that is virtually unreachable--even if it really *is* the best movie of all time.
OK look, let me settle something between those who love and hate this
film. A lot of people hail this film because it is technically
brilliant and ground breaking. Director Orson Welles did a lot of
things visually that no one had ever done before. Nearly every film
maker was in some way influenced by this movie. This movie also had a
great impact in its time. The title character was based on media giant
William Randolph Hearst. He was that generations Donald Trump. He
opposed this film so much he did everything in its power to stop its
release and almost succeeded. Lastly this film contains some of the
strongest and most common themes in literature; Life versus death. It
is for these reasons why this film is so revered.
On the contrary people who hate this film mainly complain that it is boring. Which is a legitimate complaint. The story is slow compared to today's standards, and there is no real Hearst character alive today in which to relate. So yes, the story on the surface is outdated. However, this does not make it a bad movie. It was not made as a Matrix/Star Wars type of movie which can be enjoyed even at surface level. This is not pure entertainment. Remember there is more to film than storytelling. This film was designed to be cinematically beautiful and to tell a basic story of love and redemption. There is much more to the story than the thinly veiled attack on Hearst, one just needs to look deeper. Look at Shakespeare or Hawthorne for example, their literary works are universally loved. Yet, many people blow them off because they refuse to look past the outdated language into the beautiful prose and simple ubiquitous themes. Just because something is outdated does not mean it lacks worth in today's world.
My advice to those who did not like it the first time or have not seen it yet is simple. Watch it again for what it is. Do not expect to be on the edge of your seat for two hours. Watch it for the cinematography that alone makes this film among the best (I don't agree with AFI's number one ranking but I think it still ranks high). Look deeper into the story and try to connect with it on some level. At the very least appreciate how influential this film was and where the industry would be without it. If you can do this, then maybe some of the naysayers will change their minds. Again, you do not have to love Citizen Kane, but at least respect it for what it is.
What do you say about a movie more analysed than is enjoyed, more
envied and despised than any other piece of cinema: well documented for
its perceived portrayal of William Randolph Hearst, and his efforts to
have it destroyed....It has survived and now stands at number one on
the AFI's top 100 list, for a movie that didn't even win the Oscar for
its year of release.
What can you say about the cinematography and direction and acting, that hasn't already been said? The lighting, the camera angles, the new visual techniques and trick photography used for the first time in an American movie to great effect. Special mention has to go to the acting of a 25 year old Orson Welles, an aspect the least highlighted.
The grand-daddy of the American Soap Opera, it tells the life of Charles Foster Kane, from his humble beginnings, his mother's giving him up to a wealthy guardian, and his building of a newspaper/radio empire. It sees Kane go from an idealistic journalist to a powerful mogul able to manipulate history through his media empire.
Despite all his money and power, Kane is not immune to the hand of destiny, and oh how she slaps Kane the old American way. A married Kane is caught through pure "innocence" with a "singer" and a scandal erupts, costing Kane the state governorship; you can guess the instigator of the scandal-mongering: the incumbent governor.
In the first part of the movie, we see a Kane adored by the public and employees but we don't see the reason why his relationship with his wife deteriorated, shown in a powerful film sequence of spouses drifting apart through the years. In the second part we see his relationship with the "singer" whom he took as his second wife, and how he uses her to try and manipulate public opinion of himself, just as he had used the media empire previously. The only problem is that his second wife isn't as competent as the media empire was in gaining respect or adoration; she is just terrible as an opera singer. But Kane wants to prove to the public that the "singer" who he was caught with, was more than "whore" and that he had the power to shape public opinion; she even told kane that she didn't want to be a singer. It is the cruelest thing any man could have done to another human being; manipulated for his own ends. William Randolph Hearst was said to have been less angry about his own portrayal than that of his mistress, Marion Davies.
The movie broke new grounds for cinema also, in its story-telling: we see first the death of a recluse Kane in his old age, and then there are flashbacks from newsreels and investigations and interviews of reporters piecing together the life of Charles Foster Kane and his dying word "rosebud".
The reporters never found out what his dying word meant, but the audience is shown what it "is". No single word can describe a man's life after all, so what does it mean??? lost childhood innocence and happiness??
This movie bred a bunch of copycats like "The Carpetbaggers" and "Valley of the Dolls", and inspired the great TV soapies like Dallas and Dynasty. Many other movies from different genres have copied and perhpas bettered the camera work and lighting and yet this movie has stood up well through the 60 years from its sheer brilliance and originality.
Despite its greatness, Citizen Kane seems to have taken some victims along the way. At age 25, Orson Welles starred, wrote and directed his masterpiece, but because of various reasons, political, envy, hatred, he was never able to match it. The other victim seems to have been Dorothy Comingore as Susan Alexander, mirroring the career of Marilyn Monroe who came after her.
A great movie thats stood the test of time. See it for what it is: a fantastic piece of story-telling firstly, only then can you see its greatness.
Citizen Kane is majestic, elegant and noble. It begins at the end, we see
man of obvious wealth and power breathe his last, and then the mysteries
his life are unraveled via a series of anecdotes, barely remembered scenes
and highly subjective memories. The boldness of this approach cannot be
overemphasized. At the time that this film was made Hollywood was for the
most part used to creating straight-forward stories with clearly
heroes and villains. Kane dared to present Man as he is, rife with
confusions, internal contradictions and uncertainty.
As the film progressed, we see Kane, loosely based on William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaper tycoon slowly sacrifice his ideals in order to build his financial empire, losing his friendships with those who believed in him until ultimately he looses everything he has, his marriage, his friends, and his integrity. Though he is the richest man in the world he lives his remaining isolated in his privately built mountain estate where he has surrounded himself with material pleasures, alone and despairing, one senses that he welcomes death. The film takes the view that wealth and power are inherently destructive of human values. Kane himself states `If I hadn't been born rich I might have been a really great man.
What is so masterful about Kane is its ambiguity. We never are certain if Kane really did believe in the values that he professed. At the same time that he sets himself up as above the world, he longs for the affection of the common people. This is symbolized by his exploitative, and patronizing love for a chorus girl, Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore). Her character is given a paper-thin characterization, the only obvious flaw in a nearly perfect movie.
Orson Wells gives a bravura performance as Kane, both identifying with and condemning the man. This film was his first venture into movie making after the infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast that threw America into an uproar. Wells, a child prodigy, had a background in Shakespearian theater, offering modernized adaptations of the Classics, a bold and unusual gesture at the time. He brought that kind of sweeping tragic romantic sensibility to his first film.
Unconstrained by Hollywood's traditions, he broke all the rules. The deep focus photography that gives Kane its theatrical look was one of his innovations. A mastery of sound, gained from years of working in the radio was another. Kane is an avalanche of technical innovation, unmatched in any other Hollywood film.
Despite the film's pessimistic outlook, it is studded by moments of joy, beauty and emotional truth. The supporting cast of characters, most of them regulars from Wells' Mercury Theater are also superb. Joseph Cotton is memorable as Jed Leland Kane's close friend who believes in him more then he does. And Everet Slone is wonderful as Kane's would be mentor Mr. Bernstien.
So many scenes in this movie linger forever in the memory, one is left with a stirring vision of the frailty of the human condition, the film gives us no easy answers and while being fiercely critical of many of it's characters is universal in it's compassion and sympathy, this is perhaps the most vital ingredient for great art.
Kane was one of the most controversial films ever made. Hearst, offended by his portrayal, offered RKO a small fortune to destroy the film. When that didn't work his newspapers embarked on a campaign of defamation against Wells, thus proving that the film's criticism of the power and corruption of the press were precisely on target. Wells was never given a free hand to direct how he liked again and American Cinema was deprived of the one of the greatest geniuses to adopt it as a medium of self-expression.
It's influence, was immediate, incalculable and mostly unacknowledged, the film was a box office and critical failure due to Hearst's efforts and it was not until years later that this film got the respect it deserved. Nowadays there is not one living film director of serious artistic intent that has not been deeply influenced by Citizen Kane. It's not just a masterpiece it's a creative touchstone.
Of course there were other talents at work in making Kane, Hermann Mankiewicz's efforts on the script were indispensable and Bernard Hermann, the composer most famous for working with Hitchcock provided the films beautiful music. Still, the film remains most obviously the work of Orson Wells, a veritable hall of mirrors reflecting the great artist's dreams, obsessions and fears. Citizen Kane is not just one of the great works of cinema it is one of the greatest artistic creations of the century
I know why you're reading this. You're smart, you have great taste, a
passion for cinema, and you see CK near the top of every 'Great Movie'
list ever compiled. So with great anticipation you borrow a DVD copy
and sit down for a real treat, and... you can't get through the first
half hour. You fall asleep.
Surprised, you think, 'It must be me, maybe I'm tired,' so a month later, you try again. But you don't even get as far as before, and wake up drooling out the corner of your mouth as a bloated Orson Welles, with really bad age make-up, groans 'Rosebud, Rosebud'.
It doesn't make sense. You're perplexed. You've watched other films on the lists... Casablanca made you stand up and cheer, cry, laugh, feel connected to all humanity. You even adore films on the list that some might consider oblique, like 8 1/2, which you reckon reinvented cinema language, weaving in and out of memory, dreams, psyche, reality, putting the human spirit up on the screen, making you cheer, laugh, and feel connected to all humanity.
So why does CK leave you so cold? You wonder, 'What's wrong with me? Am I stupid or something?'
Your borrowed DVD copy gathers dust (notice how the lender never asks for it back?), taunting your unquiet mind: "You must watch me: I'm the greatest film of all time!" But you shudder at the thought. Life's too short and, after all, there's more engaging things to do - like scraping plaque off the dog's teeth.
Years pass. Finally, you can take it no longer. You think, 'To be a serious film lover I MUST watch Citizen Kane! Maybe I was too immature before - yes, that must be it!' So you gird your loins and sit - awake! - through the whole thing. The whole turgid, ponderous, dull, vacuous, plodding, dank catastrophe. It's even worse than you feared. An emotionally and intellectually empty story. Your average six year old can invent a more complex, engaging tale.
Genuinely puzzled, you ask people who name it as one of the greatest films of all time why they like it, and with barely concealed superiority that phoneys are wont to adopt, they wax lyrical talk about the haunting mystery of the final words, "Rosebud, rosebud". You notice there's no feeling behind what they say. They also talk a great deal about Gregg Toland's cinematography, with liberal references to "deep focus", and you appreciate this, you really do, the cinematography was damned fine, best thing about the movie. That shot which started outside the window then tracked back into the room was really cool. But you just don't believe a movie is made great by cinematography alone.
In all your inquiries, you never once hear the following phrase, spoken from the heart: "God, I love that film".
So here you find yourself, reading IMDb comments.
Well, let me tell you this: There's Nothing Wrong With You! You Are Right! It's Overrated Flashy Unintelligent Rubbish!
One day, perhaps (one can but dream), the coolest, greatest, most admired film being in the world will point out the bleeding obvious nakedness of this bloated Emperor, and the assorted film critics, film studies teachers, and others who need to be told what to think by an authority figure, shall squirm, and CK shall drop off the lists once and for all.
Until that great day, don't be afraid to speak the truth.
Well as a media student myself , i have come across this question many
times in books and during lectures. There are simply 3 reasons the
film, which was considered as the "Mona Lisa of all films" , created
such a legendary appeal upon release in 1941: 1) This was Orson Welles
first cinematic debut , even though he had been a huge star in theater
, he was given an opportunity few first time directors were permitted
to having. He had full artistic freedom and above all power, to direct
, produce, write and even star in his own picture. Therefore the film
industry and RKO pictures had absolutely no influence in the making of
the film and were not to know what was happening on set .Of course this
was bound to generate a number of problems as businessmen were curious
about the nature and plot of the film , which takes us to the second
reason the film caused controversy.
2)One of the main reasons the film posed contentions was because the main character , Charles Foster Kane(Orson Welles), featured a range of similarities with real media mogul and newspaper journalist William Randolph Hurst . Therefore the film was seen as depicting the life , problems and personal relationships of a real person thus fictionalizing his life. Some of the similarities between the two persona's are:
KANE: newspaper tycoon , worked for New York Inquirer , known as the Kubla Khan of Xanadu ,married talentless singer Susan Alexander Kane, he was a political aspirant to presidency by campaigning for governor, bought his wife the Municipal Opera House, Financier Thatcher, and threat Getty's. Hurst: yellow journalist , worked for New York Journal, political aspirant to presidency by becoming governor, married acress Marion Davies, bought his wife Cosmopolitan Pictures, financier JP Morgan , and threat Tammany Hall.
-differences: Susan Alexander Kane( Dorothy Comingdore) leaves Kane later in their life however there was no marriage breakdown for Hurst and Marion.
3) The last reason and most pivotal of all to why the film was regarded the way it was , was due to its technical and stylistic innovations . The film upon its release was misunderstood and unappreciated by critics as they couldn't comprehend many of its elements and were too concerned with its dark and mysterious nature which is one of Welles's characteristics in his films. The film after all was 20 years ahead of its time and was only regarded as a triumphant success upon its second release after the American Film Noir era in the 1950's. His most prominent artistic inventions were: -the low angled camera movements -extreme facial closeups -long uninterrupted shots -chiaroscuro lighting -overlapping dialogue , giving a realistic effect to conversations -subjective camera angles -deep focus shots and depth of field -flashbacks that make up most of the film All the above and more constitute to why the film is so influential to all would be film directors and for why many people regard it as the best film of all time. Lastly we musnt forget the exceptional score by Bernard Herrmann who had collaborated also with the best known director of all time, Alfred Hitchcock , and made him the chillin sounds of strings in Psycho and Vertigo to name a few . In addition the superb photography of Gregg Toland in regards to Welles's unique eye on details. After all he wanted to put in each shot everything the human eye can see if they were present.
There are many areas of the film which are crucial , these are some of the most important , and as you can see there is never too little or too much that you can add to this masterpiece .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have an observation concerning Rosebud (and I don't mean that story
about Marion Davies). Everyone seems to assume that Kane saying
"Rosebud" means he was thinking of the one time in his life when he was
totally happy and had what he wanted. For years I have also assumed
that. The other day something occurred to me and I am curious to know
if it has occurred to anyone else.
When Kane first meets Susan Alexander he says he is on his way to (or coming from? I don't recall which) a warehouse where his childhood belongings are stored which he has not seen in many years. He doesn't mention the sled, but presumably that is the one thing which drew him to the warehouse. Kane is splashed and Susan laughs at him and one things leads to another. But my point is this: Kane would never have met Susan but for Rosebud. If Kane never met Susan he would never have been caught in the "love nest" with her and lost the election for governor. Kane might have had another mistress, but this seems unlikely. Kane is not very interested in sex - perhaps because he feels he is making love to the whole world. His interest in Susan is primarily idealized and not physical. So but for the meeting Susan, Kane would likely not have had a scandal and would have been elected governor. We are told he would then have almost certainly been elected President. Also he would not have lost his wife and his son would not have been killed in the car accident. As President, Kane could have been the most powerful man in the world. Instead he loses this chance, loses his wife and loses his son - all because he happened to be on a certain street at a certain moment. And the reason he was on that street at that moment was Rosebud!
So maybe when Kane says "Rosebud" he is not thinking of when he was a carefree lad playing in the snow. Maybe he realizes that because of Rosebud his whole life went spinning in a completely different direction from what it otherwise would have taken. By pure accident Rosebud ruined his life and shut him off forever from everything he otherwise could have been and could have accomplished. And maybe that is why "Rosebud" is the last word he speaks.
But if this is true (and it seems quite logical to me) then why does no one else comment upon it? Why has no one spotted it? Or has someone I just don't know it? Or could it be that this is the kind of truth that no one wants to face? That all of our lives are determined more by blind, idiot accident than by design or purpose.
I've heard so much told about Citizen Kane and Orson Welles, so I finally decided to get the film, and find out if it really is all that it's cracked up to be... I must say, it's great. The plot is great, and the way it's told is amazing. The story is first summed up in a matter of minutes, about 15, to be more accurate, and then the rest of the film has characters telling the story through flashbacks and retelling. We hear just about every opinion about Charles Foster Kane, apart from his own. The story is told after his death, and we see everything important that leads up to it, and only in the very end do we understand him, only then do we fully understand who he was, and what made him so. The ending also reveals one of the very most important things in any man or woman... one thing that everyone needs and knows of. I won't reveal it here, as it would almost be a crime to spoil the experience of this film to anyone. The acting is excellent; Welles himself is stellar as Kane, and his impressive appearance, along with his commanding voice, makes the character a forceful sight, nay, experience. The characters are well-written and credible. The character of Kane is probably the most well-rounded and perfectly built up I've seen in a movie, ever. The cinematography is excellent... the editing is great. I can't praise the angles, pans, zooms and transitions enough... it just has to be experienced. Now, for the one thing I can criticize in the film; the pacing. It's only two hours long, but it feels like much, much more. There were portions of the film where it felt like it didn't move at all. When there weren't great dialog or something equally as good in the film, it dragged terribly. There were too many scenes where the dialog seemed pointless, as well, I think. It didn't seem to be leading to anything. However, this criticism is so minor, due to the ending more than making up for it, that I still give this film a perfect score. I can't do anything but agree with its placing at the top of the top #250 films of all time, here on IMDb. As I'm writing this, it's #11. That's pretty much what it deserves, in my opinion. Not higher, not lower. Not the greatest film of all time(that pretty much still belongs to The Godfather, I think... at least, I haven't seen a better film than that, yet), but definitely far up there. I recommend this to any fan of film in general, and anyone who thinks they can understand it; it has a truly profound point that any man(and woman) should know of(preferably through seeing the film for themselves). Don't let the fact that it's old and black & white deter you from seeing this masterpiece. A true cinematic masterpiece, in every sense of the word. 10/10
Kane "Citizen Kane" (1941) was Orson Welles' film debut, and in it he
created an enduring masterpiece that is considered by many to be the
greatest movie ever made.
Shortly after "Citizen Kane" opens, we see aged newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane (Welles) softly drawl the word "Rosebud" and die. Sensing that there's a story behind Kane's dying word, a magazine editor shows a reporter a newsreel obituary that chronicles how Kane created a business empire, married a U.S. President's niece, ran unsuccessfully for Governor of New York, divorced his first wife and married a second, collected art, built a fabulous estate called Xanadu, and divorced his second wife. The reporter is then assigned the task of ferreting out the significance of "Rosebud." As the reporter's investigation progresses, fascinating details about Kane emerge.
Citizen kane is maybe for a lot of people (myselve not included) not a real entertaining movie, But there is no doubt about it that aws one of the most important movies ever made.
The visual style of "Citizen Kane" looks stunningly fresh and inventive even today, and the unconventional narrative structure of the Oscar-winning screenplay still seems daring. Welles' portrayal of a character who gradually ages from 25 to old age is unexcelled, and the movie's supporting cast, most of whom had worked previously with Welles on stage and radio productions, is superb. In short, everything came together in "Citizen Kane" to make it one of the greatest character studies ever captured on film.
Citizen kane is also one of my favorites and is listed in my top 5 of all time: 9.5 / 10 Masterpiece !!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Citizen Kane" was a dazzling movie debut for Welles, a
twenty-four-year-old infant terrible whose brilliant work for stage and
radio had already made him famous
RKO had given him carte blanche, and with the collaboration of writer Herman Mankiewicz and photographer Gregg Toland, he had produced a masterpiece
"Citizen Kane" is the story of Charles Foster Kane, a rich young man who decides to build a newspaper empire and in doing so sacrifices his professed high ideals on the altar of yellow journalism His personal, political ambitions are ruined when his extramarital liaison with a young singer becomes public knowledge and his efforts to make her an international opera star bring him nothing but ridicule Having alienated his friends and wives and lost a good part of his fortune, Kane spends his last years alone in the enormous art-filled palace he has had created in Florida
Told primarily in flashbacks, the film begins with Kane's death: after dropping a paperweight that simulates a snowfall when it is turned upside down, the old man whispers a single word, "Rosebud," and dies Immediately a strident Mach-of-Time newsreel begins, reviewing the highlights of Kane's career as the camera had recorded them over the years It is, however, an unsatisfactory record of a man's life, and a group of journalists decide to probe deeper in an attempt to discover the truth about Kane Perhaps, they speculate, the word "Rosebud" offers a clue... Then ensues a series of interviews with the key people in Kane's life, each of whom relates the man's story as he or she knew it...
The portrait that eventually emerges is one of a grasping, vain, selfish, and ambitious man... "He never gave you anything," an old friend recalls bitterly, "he just left you a tip." In the film's final moments, workmen in Kane's palace are seen destroying unwanted junk One of the items they toss into the furnace is a child's sled; as it burns, the word "Rosebud" can be seen painted on it
The story of Charles Foster Kane is engrossing but not particularly profound The movie is a superb piece of film-making, nonetheless, because the techniques employed, although not necessarily new, had never before been used together to such startling effect Welles and Toland made brilliant use of deep-focus photography and of an arsenal of lighting effects
In the course of the film, flashbulbs pop, spotlights play, the sun's rays pour down into darkened rooms, beams of light are emitted by a movie projector, lightning flashes, and smoke, fog shadows, rain, and snow all contribute to the almost tangible atmosphere Quick, dramatic cuts occur throughout In one famous sequence, Welles employs six fast scenes to portray the disintegration of Kane's first marriage: each shot shows Kane and his wife at the breakfast table, but in each they are clearly more estranged until, in the final shot, they sit in silence as she reads a rival newspaper
Toland's constantly moving camera is somewhat obtrusive, but it is nevertheless mesmerizing In the famous sequence at the opera housethe occasion of the second Mrs. Kane's disastrous debutthe camera shows the anguished vocal coach in the conductor's box and then moves upward to the flies, where one stagehand expresses his critical opinion of the performance by holding his nose Welles' use of sound, ranging from thunder to a cockatoo's screech, reflects his experience in radio
There had never been a picture like "Citizen Kane." It openly satirized a wealthy and powerful living American, it deliberately antagonized Hollywood's ruling elite, and it bravely ignored conventional cinema technique Innovative, aggressive, and fascinating, "Citizen Kane" electrified a complacent industry Welles dominated Kane He had become, in a single stroke, the most admired, envied, praised and detested man in Hollywood Unhappily, the movie industry never learned to utilize Welles' quixotic genius, and his career never rescaled the heights it had reached in 1941
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