Thursday, October 13, 2011

Citizen Kane (1941)

Citizen Kane (1941)

"Welles's accidental semi-autobiographical film stops trying to tell a good story, but tells a story perfectly." 

Is this the greatest film of all time? Well to answer this question we have to understand the type of person who watches this film. When someone out of the blue decides to become a film critic, of course they rummage through various critic's lists and polls', searching to see what 'the best' is. And of course it results in Citizen Kane, a towering figure in film. From here our young critical prodigy will watch the movie, and have two attitudes as the credits role, they will either chant, "I have no idea what was going on, but that was brilliant!". This is the predominant attention seeker of the critical world, going for 'the best' and going with the crowd, lying to themselves, for Citizen Kane is extremely dull for a first time viewer, and in all honesty, I did the same as many; I smiled and gave the full thumbs and waved, taking the glory of being smart. And of course, there is the other type of reaction, the "There wasn't a single gun in that whole movie! I'm gonna tell everyone how wrong they are and violently attack how boring this movie is, and tomorrow, oh and I gotta host my Avatar appreciation party tomorrow..."
It's a real shame that this common reactions of a first time reviewer, they either fall into a state of denial and lie to themselves, or become a massive cock, to which will result in the stroking of his ego till the grave. Luckily after two years experience I thought I'd tackle this colossal film once again, and I was overwhelmed. Citizen Kane is really quite intimidating in all manner for up and coming filmmakers. Many call this film influential, I on the other hand see it as a dream crusher, especially when you realise Orson Welles made a movie about himself and was just given the award for best of the business, leaving us wannabes to cower in our rooms, crying yourself to sleep as unworthy, and thereby settle for being an egotistical prick, hence my writing this. When you look at this film closely, there is so much method into every single shot being done, every shot is trying to say something, or trying to convey a point, then pull out your magnifier and look even closer and your sure to see even more to the point of bring you to tears, because it reminded you of the bully teasing you about his superior muscles. The mere idea of writing an essay on this film puts my brains into shambles. 

Mesmerizing imagery.  
The film is a story of a newspaper tycoon (based upon William Randolph Hearst), brought up in an adopted family of huge wealth. For reasons I never quite grasped from the film (feel free to explain below), Charles Foster Kane is taken from his family, at their will for some pay, and then taken into the world of privilege, where he takes whatever he wants, and he chooses a small newspaper. It opens with a news reel, telling all there was to know, then follows a reporter trying to learn the meaning behind his final word, "Rosebud".
Within all fairness, the film's story is a rather dull one, certainly understandably causing criticism amongst any modern audience, untrained in appreciating film. Yet in its entire plot, were told in such ingenious ways, brilliantly breaking conventions of the era in which it was made, and giving modern films a run for its money. What Welles does is effectively casting away the whole story of the film, but tells of a man, Charles Foster Kane. Often [i]Citizen Kane[i/] seems to be well aware of itself being a movie, the viewer is constantly aware that it is in fact a movie being watched, and Welles plays with this. Welles's accidental semi-autobiographical film stops trying to tell a good story, but tells a story perfectly.

Now in a film I believe to be as close as you get to perfect, the weakest part of the film is its performances. The acting is shockingly mediocre, of course Welles tried to bring many newcomers to the industry, and for many it's their first. Now that's all well and good for a small independent film, a mere launch pad for future talents, but Citizen Kane IS film. It is perhaps the most important and powerful film to ever be made, and its unfortunate that the acting lacks any dynamic aspects, not to say its bad, but its small actors in a huge film.
However, Welles's performance, although not exactly a great one, is certainly a powerful performance, fitting the grandeur of the film. In a sense the second-rate performances are a part of Kane's success, as I had said the film is much like a documentary, or template on a perfect film, than it is an actual film. Once this is established, mediocrity is acceptable to keep the spotlight in the correct place. 

More genius.

Oh dear me, now to try explaining the genius in Welles's direction would be nothing but an understatement. It's as if every shot of this film was telling a story of its own, pushing boundaries on how something could be shown. Ultimately, the direction is perhaps the best to ever be contributed to the cinema, and it's Welles's direction, which carries the film to a completely different style of film, where it is more or less a handbook, than a film. Ironically direction will be my short coming of my review, since to even begin o explain the direction would result in an essay I neither have the time nor ability to complete.

Overall, Citizen Kane is quite possibly the greatest film ever made. Although film is far too subjective to ever draw a conclusion to this title, Kane has won enough lists and polls to fill the shoes of an invisible film, an enigma. However, to call this film flawless would be completely wrong, for it has many problems, especially in its performances, yet perhaps all intended. It would be wrong to say the film is flawless, but it would be quite accurate to say Citizen Kane has the most control and awareness of any other film. The only real problem I had with this film is it lacks an emotional touch, which perhaps is the reasoning for many disliking this film; as brilliant this film might be, I can hardly find myself visiting it again anytime soon. Welles has effectively made a documentary of film, and how to do it, which was all achieved at the young age of 26. It was from then on Welles proved that he had perhaps told his own future, making Kane a chilling autobiography.


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