1941 - PG - 119 Mins.
|Director: Orson Welles|
|Written By: Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles|
|Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead, Ruth Warrick |
|Review by: John Ulmer
There are so many films out there that I have seen. I don't think I will ever be able to choose a true favorite out of all the films out there. Sure, I have some favorites (plural), and I can, perhaps, choose a favorite out of different genres...but never an all-time favorite. The same goes for "Citizen Kane"--which is, without a doubt, one of the greatest American films ever made. Though I wouldn't name it THE best ever made.
What are we dogs?
Orson Welles (who got just about the best deal from Hollywood...ever...) plays Charles Kane, a man who comes to riches by opening up a newspaper chain. In the beginning of the film, we see Kane die, and hear his last word: "Rosebud." So the film starts off by searching for what "rosebud" really means. We see countless people who knew Kane interviewed. None of them know what "rosebud" really means. But as the film goes on we see glimpses of Kane's life, and then at the end we realize what "rosebud" really meant.
Why is America interested in the lives of men? Countless classic films really have no plot other than looking at a lonely man's life. "It's a Wonderful Life," "Harvey," "Goodfellas," "Forrest Gump," "Platoon"--all films that just came to mind that people love in general. Why, oh why are people so interested in the life of a man on film? Would you listen to my life story and say my story was one of the greatest ever told? Probably not. But there's something about seeing it all on film that is exuberating and enthralling. The same goes for "Citizen Kane."
"Citizen Kane" has, perhaps, the best makeup I have ever seen on film. They easily disguise a twenty-four-year-old Orson Welles as a sixty-something old man. Unlike other films where it is obvious the actor is wearing makeup, "Citizen Kane" disguises it very, very well.
I recently bought the Special Edition DVD with a commentary by Roger Ebert, who said in his commentary that there are probably more special effects in "Citizen Kane" than in the "Star Wars" films. I watched for the first time on the lookout for special effects, and though subtle, I have to agree that there truly are many special effects used in the film.
Another thing Ebert pointed out is how low the ceilings are, which creates a feeling of paranoia. Another thing that is nice about this film is how crammed all the sets feel because of this effect.
And if you want symbolism, this film is for you. As Kane hands over his empire in one scene, he walks over to a window, which to the naked eye looks normal-sized. But as Kane nears the window, guess what? Turns out the window is very, very high. It makes Kane look small. Think about it. He's handing over his empire and growing smaller in his wealth. It's all very symbolic.
I recommend picking up the DVD; it also contains a two-hour documentary called "The Battle Over Citizen Kane," plus many, many more tidbits, including the original theatrical trailer (which is very odd and original).
All in all, "Citizen Kane" is a classic of epic proportions. One of the very greatest American films out there, if a little overrated (number one ever? No.).