“I always gagged on the silver spoon…”
Publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane’s death launches a frantic investigation to discover the meaning of his cryptic last word… Rosebud.
I know absolutely nothing about Citizen Kane writer/director/star Orson Welles. I have never knowingly seen any of his films and until today I wouldn’t have been able to pick him out of a line up. I struggle with the so called Golden Age of Hollywood, the time between the 20s and the early 60s, and Citizen Kane hasn’t really persuaded me to seek out much else from that period. How much of Citizen Kane’s enduring appeal is down to people overstating how they feel about it because there is an expectation for the film to still be considered one of the best ever?
Having said that, it is easy to see why the film has become so iconic. Kane himself follows the literary tradition of Jay Gatsby. A man who entices others with his charm and wealth but ends up alone and unloved. It isn’t an original story but it is brought to life by Welles in an imposing and domineering performance.
The cinematography, music and editing are all beautiful. Welles shoots the film in such a way that it always feels like the audience is eavesdropping on a private conversation. The lighting is impeccable with silhouettes coming in and out of focus as the scene dictates, and the music is ominous and uplifting in equal measure.
Its generally accepted that Citizen Kane set many precedents and was hugely influential but is it as explosive as One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest or The Shining? Is it as compelling as 12 Angry Men or The Hustler? Is it as entertaining as Back to the Future or Indiana Jones? For me, the answer to all those questions is a resounding no.
If you see film as an art form to be studied then Citizen Kane is a must watch film. However, if you just want a bit of escapism for a couple of hours then look elsewhere.