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Citizen Kane [RSC Film Club 42]


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The second half of our Oscar special, a winning Best Screenplay film, is the legendary Citizen Kane, arguably the greatest film ever made, easily the most influential.  

Citizen Kane | Orson welles, Citizen kane, Retro film posters

When elderly, reclusive billionaire media mogul Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) dies in his palatial estate, dogged reporter Jerry Thompson (William Alland) sets out to discover the meaning behind his enigmatic last word, "Rosebud".  He interviews people who knew him and we get to see Kane's entire life from childhood through to his lonely death.  

This is Orson Welle's debut film, and as well as starring in the lead role he also directed, produced and co-wrote the screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz.  Not bad for a 26 year old.  You know this film is good when even its name is used as a synonym for the best, as in "this is the Citizen Kane of online gaming crews".  Nominated for nine Oscars, including three others for Welles (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor), the Original Screenplay award was its only win.  

Orson Welles GIF by Coolidge Corner Theatre

people will think what I tell them to think

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  • 4 weeks later...

I can't seem to find it but I'm sure I reviewed this in https://www.rockstarsocialclub.net/forums/topic/6698-rate-the-last-film-you-watched around a year or so a go. I watched it again of course.

I know this often regarded as one of the greatest films ever but I find the style of films from this era can be a annoying. There's something about that way the actors deliver their lines, especially the high pitched voices of some of the actresses that I find annoying. So this is quite hard to review objectivity. It is undeniably a great script with great acting from Orson Welles and I do really like the scene where Kane first meets the woman who will become his second wife; the actress playing her is good. Obviously you can't judge it by modern day standards in terms of make up and special effects but technically, as far as I can judge, it seems very good.


So for me it's 9/10.


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There's a certain nervousness I get when about to watch such a critically acclaimed and legendary film like this; what if I don't get it or, even worse, what if I don't like it?  Just the first scene of Citizen Kane blows all of those feelings away.  From the opening shot of a no trespassing sign and the slow crawl through the sprawling grounds of Xanadu and the masterfully edited dissolves into the bedchambers of the dying Charles Foster Kane where he utters his enigmatic last word - rosebud - you know that this is a film ahead of its time.  But what got me the most is the way the story of this man is told.  We never see things from his point of view, everything we learn about him is a second hand account, with not one single person able to give us a full picture of who he really was, and maybe no one could, not even us, the audience, who have seen more pieces than anyone else.  Kane starts as a mystery and he ends as one.  The mirror shot, where he is reproduced over and over again, is perhaps the clearest picture of the man we could get.  There wasn't one man called Kane, there were dozens, changing who he was to suit the situation and take the most from it that he could.  And so the mystery of rosebud goes up in flames, the last mystery of Charles Foster Kane will never be solved.  

Not only is this a masterful film as a whole, but it is also full of incredible individual moments; his passive-aggressive applause at his second wife's awful singing, the bedroom destruction scene, the parrot jump scare, the montage of the dinner table getting longer as he grows more distant from his first wife, the aforementioned mirror shot, the chorus of showgirls singing a song about how awesome he is while he dances along with them, and all those ceilings! (seriously, look at a film from the same time, you never see any ceilings).  

The Sight and Sound poll for the greatest films of all time, which happens every decade, had Citizen Kane as the winner from 1952-2012 when it was knocked into second place by Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.  When the latest poll comes out sometime this year I wouldn't be surprised to find Kane back on top, where it feels like he belongs.  10/10

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