Friday, October 2, 2009

The Classics: Citizen Kane

Often hailed by many as the greatest film of all-time, Citizen Kane is a unique film. It is a film about life, the pursuit of wealth, and the simplicities that define us. Of course one must wonder if Citizen Kane is all just a bunch of hype, or if it truly is the greatest film ever made?

The story of Citizen Kane follows the life of newspaper tyrant Charles Foster Kane. With his dying breath he uttered a word that leads to a mystery that might possibly unlock the hidden secrets of his life. One reporter goes on a wild goose chase, trying to piece together the pieces of Kane's life in order to understand who the man truly was. In the process the reporter discovers that no one truly knew Charles Foster Kane, so who was this man that was one of the richest to ever live?

The film is an intriguing story, unfolding like a mystery, but never traipsing into thriller territory. This was one of the first films of all-time to utilize the flashback module commonly seen in films nowadays as the mystery of Charles Foster Kane unfolds through the flashbacks of those who knew him. Not only that, writer, director, and star Orson Welles utilized so many methods behind the camera that had never really been done before then. The masterful tracking shots, the racking of the focus to draw attention to particular people and objects, and his use of dream sequences to create an eerie effect. It is because of all this I think it is safe to say that Citizen Kane is at least one of the more innovative films in cinema history.

While Citizen Kane has a tight story and its technical mastery was unrivaled at the time, the story ultimately creates no real emotional connection. You never get to truly know the character of Charles Foster Kane, sympathize for him or with him. There is an emotional disconnect which keeps me from being drawn fully into the world in which Orson Welles created. Even so, the mystery of Charles Foster Kane is so intriguing that it will keep you riveted to your seat, unless someone spoils the ending.

Citizen Kane is a masterful film, and should be seen for all of its innovation, as well the story is intriguing enough to keep one watching from beginning to end, even if you never really feel any emotional connection.

So to answer the question from the beginning, while I do not think Citizen Kane is the greatest film ever made, it is still worthy of being called a classic.

I give Citizen Kane an A-!

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