For my first review I’m going to have a look at what many believe to be the greatest film of the 20th Century. Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane(1941). The first and last film a director was given completer creative control over a project. And the director in question was only 24 years old.
INITIAL RANTING: I first heard of this movie in my first ever film tutorial at Deakin Uni. The tutor and some learned students were chatting away about this amazing something, from what I could gather, it sounded like Awesome Wells. A few hours later we were sitting hushed in our first lecture for the same class awaiting our eccentric and passionate lecturer who would introduce me to one of the most amazing film experiences of my life.
The lights in the large lecture theatre went down and silence enveloped the space as a black and white frame emerged on the screen. The strange beginning of this film adds to its genius, the unrecognizable figure subtly writhing on a bed in a castle is covered with strange angles as the character utters a single word, “Rosebud”.
Next there is the booming voice of Orson Welles, one of the most brilliant creative minds of the early twentieth century, in my meager opinion.
Two hours later we were released from the trance Welles had put us under and vacated the theatre in such a hurried manner the lecturer appeared rather distressed, no real reason for this mass exodus other than that the lecture had gone over by five minutes.
I may be putting a rather glamourous spin on Citizen Kane but countless reviewers and surveys have placed this film, Orson Welles first ever film, as one of, if not the greatest of all time.
THE PLOT? Citizen Kane is the story of the rise and fall of a (somewhat) fictional media mogul. It outlines the drama of Charles Foster Kane’s life from adoption as a young boy, through media acquirements, marriages, and scandals. However Welles decided to make the film as a retrospect. Beginning with Kane dying and uttering that single word and then the media scramble to find out the meaning behind this word for Kane. Leading one reporter to interview people who knew Kane and then dissolving to flash backs from the man’s troubled life.
THE CAST? Who else would play Kane in Orson Welles’ directoral debut but Welles himself, fresh off a stellar career in theatre radio in New York where he orchestrated the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast.
The rest of the cast is made up with Welles’ theatre radio troupe, people who remained largely unknown after the film was exhibited.
THE BUZZ? This retrospective critical success was almost killed before anyone ever saw it because of its obvious references to the Rupert Murdoch of the day, William Randolph Hearst. Controversy had served the 24 year old Welles well up to this point, and had been the reason for his contract with Hollywood the overt criticism of Hearst within Citizen Kane ensured it flopped at the box office and did not receive the critical acclaim it deserved at the time. Citizen Kane also ensured that no director would ever have complete creative control over a studio production. Ever.
WHY SHOULD YOU SEE IT? If you consider yourself a serious film watcher it is compulsory viewing. It just is. The acting, the screenplay, the cinematography, the before its time editing skill and just to say you have seen one of the most profound films ever made.
WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? Anyone really, preferably not people who don’t appreciate a good film though. (Please refer to my definition of a good film.)
ANY BITS TO BE WORRIED ABOUT? None at all. But its probably boring for kids.
THIS FILM GETS 4.5 GOLD STARS.