“Following the death of publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane, reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of his final utterance; ‘Rosebud’.” -IMDB
Everyone knows that Citizen Kane is supposedly the greatest film ever made, but I also know an equal amount of people who say that it’s overrated, so I wasn’t sure which category I would fall into going into. Ultimately, while it may not have my vote for the greatest film of all time, I can absolutely see why it is so widely respected and regarded. Let me clarify…
Citizen Kane follows the life and death of Charles Foster Kane (played by writer and director, Orson Welles). Given away by his parents in his youth, we see how Kane ultimately succumbs to his own narcissism, greed, and self-made isolation, while taking some of his closest friends and family down with him.
As I watched Citizen Kane, I also read more about Orson Welles. I knew some of the basics of his career, including his famous radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, and I had watched his other film The Stranger, but I didn’t know much about his life, politics, and artistic career, as a whole. I think I ultimately appreciated Citizen Kane because I also gained a newfound respect for Welles, who in many ways still seems modern, particularly in terms of his artistic vision.
It is undeniable that the film is ahead of its time in several ways. First, in terms of its awe-inspiring filmmaking techniques. Particularly given that it came out in 1941, Welles does a fantastic job of incorporating new techniques, such as incorporating a fictional character into real (and reel) news footage and including a scene of such size and scale that you can see the direct impact it had on later films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark. The film also does a wonderful job of describing media and media-influence in culture, which was relatively new at the time the movie came out, but is now a timeless theme. Finally, even with the scale of the film, Welles never loses focus of his characters and their motivations. Kane’s abandonment issues permeate every scene, as reporter Jerry Thompson takes the audience on a journey to find the mean of Kane’s final word…”rosebud.” Kane all but confirms the parable, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Bonus: Apparently one Donald (the) J(oker) Trump loves this movie and calls it his favorite. I am going to need you all to watch Citizen Kane just to understand how profoundly hilarious, ridiculous, and revelatory that is.
Rating: WORTH THE WATCH
If you like this movie, you should also see: The Stranger, Touch of Evil, The Magnificent Ambersons
Streaming: HBO Max
With: Orson Welles, Ruth Warrick, Joseph Cotten
Directed By: Orson Welles