November 06, 2011

Citizen Kane

As a first entry for this site, I decided to share my opinions on the movie "Citizen Kane," which was released in 1941. The film is considered as the best film of all-time by the American Film Institute which placed Citizen Kane in the number one spot in its "100 Years...100 Movies," a list of the top 100 films which was released in 1998. In 2007, the film remained in the top spot in the updated version of the list during the 10th year celebration of the AFI ranking.

The film stars Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane, a character inspired by William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper publisher, businessman, and politician. Welles, who also served as the director and producer of the film, had the final cut privilege, which was unusual for new directors. Majority of the members of the cast in the film were also new in the business, as seen during the end credits when it was stated that Mercury Theater was proud to introduce their new actors. The film stirred controversy as Hearst prohibited theaters from running the film; which ultimately caused the failure of the film in the box-office.

The film revolved around the quest of Jerry Thompson, a reporter, to find out who "Rosebud" is after he found out that Kane's last word was "Rosebud." This was an interesting concept in my opinion as it provided the frame of the film without limiting it. Thompson conducted interviews with different people from Kane's life which opened the opportunity for flashbacks. The reporter's investigation reflected Kane's life from the latter's childhood, to his rise to power, to his last days. I found it pretty smart and realistic that the first person the reporter went to was Kane's second wife, Susan Alexander, since, theoretically. his wife would know a lot about Kane and might provide the answer who Rosebud is. (Kane's first wife was died in an accident with their only child.) What makes it smart for me was how the film decided to make it seem that Alexander did not want to cooperate at first in the reporter's quest. After Alexander's refusal to answer the Thompson's questions, he sought information through Kane's guardian during his childhood, which, in my opinion provided the film a better transition. It also allowed the film to explore the life of Kane as a child. The film then continues to develop by introducing the character of Kane and the influences that shaped him. The film showed Kane's ups and downs by projecting his success against his failures--his success financially and politically, and his failure in his love life and family, which I thought was a central part of the film. Thompson approached Alexander for another chance for an interview wherein the latter agreed to cooperate and revealed her perspective on Kane as a man and as her ex-husband. Xanadu, Kane's mansion, also appealed to me in a sense that it showed Kane's flaws. He was able to build a mansion and an empire, but was living in it alone, with only his servants. He had more than enough wealth but was not able to have anyone with him. As the song of The Beatles go, money can't buy anyone love; and it was reflected by the emptiness of Xanadu. The story of Kane slowly unfolded until the film revealed the twist concerning secret of Rosebud.

For a person who does not enjoy dramatic films, I greatly enjoyed the film. There were scenes which I thought were not too relevant, but as a whole, the film was well executed. The story line was also exciting, especially the revelation of Rosebud. I understand why the AFI named it as one of the best films of all-time; however, I do not completely agree with its position in the rankings. Although I found the film thrilling and refreshing since it provided a different kind of film experience, I still found it a little odd that the AFI named it number one. I could not think of a better movie to replace Citizen Kane in the top spot as of this moment, but I am sure I have enjoyed other films more than I've enjoyed Citizen Kane. However, again, I completely understand why the AFI placed it in the list because it really was a great film. The film played with different elements and created a balanced mixture of these elements. I do hope more people would know about the film and watch it. I am sure people will find it palatable, and would also recognize the merit and excellence of the film.

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