Citizen Kane (1941)

The Greatest Film Ever Made [& by a 24 year-old wünderkind], O.W.’s 1941 new-age opera, political-drama, black comedy, romance, satirization, & noir biographical/psychological-pièta changed everything, catalyzing a bloom-evolution of the history & artform of cinema; a complex, beautiful avant-garde metaphor of power, love, money, news, & tragedy. 10/10.

Plot Synopsis: When a reporter is assigned to decipher newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane’s (Orson Welles) dying words, his investigation gradually reveals the fascinating portrait of a complex man who rose from obscurity to staggering heights. Though Kane’s friend and colleague Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten), and his mistress, Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore), shed fragments of light on Kane’s life, the reporter fears he may never penetrate the mystery of the elusive man’s final word, “Rosebud.”

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

The Greatest Film Ever Made?

RKO Pictures Did The Unimaginable In 1940: Offer A 24-Year Old Wünderkind A Carte Blanche & Pure Creative Freedom To Make Any Picture With Anyone – On Any Subject

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

No other project title in cinematic history evokes such a prestige, bone-chilled awe, & depth of passion across the film community: Citizen Kane. A poverty-stricken landscape and struggling RKO Pictures fueled a historic decision to do the unimaginable in 1940: offer a 24-year old NYC wünderkind a carte-blance & absolute creative freedom to make any picture of any genre with any cast/roster – on any subject. The result of Welles & his chosen lineup’s [headed by sardonic, acclimatized drunk-screenwriter gamble Herman J. Mankiewicz] ambition with perilous endgame to hunt big sociopolitical game is a chef d’oeuvre just as celebrated & immortalized a century post-release. The project boasts the king mantle of ‘greatest film ever made’ by the ~complete-universe of critics & pop-culture, 100% scores on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic [meaning no official publication has ever given it less than a perfect 10/10], & has been analyzed-and-reanalyzed by textbooks and PhD academia for decades. The film changed everything – laying the groundwork for over 500,000+ movies & billions-to-trillions of dollars worth of budgets, stars, technical, & S.T.E.M. advancements since by once-in-a-lifetime innovation proof-of-concepting film as a higher artform. Does it still hold up in 2021; does Citizen Kane still merit its hierarchical crown as The ‘G.O.A.T.’? The answer: yes. The Greatest Film Ever Made [& by a 24 year-old wünderknd], OW’s 1941 new-age opera, political drama, black comedy, romance, satirization, & noir biographical/psychological-pièta changed the history of movies, catalyzing a cinematic bloom-evolution to the movie landscape we know today; a complex, layered, plot-eclectic, beautiful avant-garde metaphor of power, love, money, news, & tragedy.

I. The Opening Scene

Through Audiovisual Cues & Pure Cinematic Language/Technique, O.W. Mystifies Canvas By Creating A Dark, Slow-Burned, Ominous Atmosphere: Sharp Juxtaposition To Xanadu

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The opening scene of Citizen Kane is one of the greatest of all-time: a pure textbook showcase of cinematic technique and bravura optical intelligence able to lay important groundwork for the entire film without more than one single spoken-word. To pay homage to the classic, reverberate its avant-garde plot-structure, and because it’s packed with so much analyzable content, social-commentary, and hidden meanings/metaphor in every line & frame, we’re going to do this review differently than others here at CLC. A dichotomized review in two self-contained threads, one thread will be prefaced by Roman Numerals (I-XX) explaining each major scene of the film and how it relates to the larger context of Kane’s life as well as the overall meaning, and the other thread prefaced by Alphabetical Letters (A-I) will be a classicized film review analyzing the backstory, stylistic techniques, innovations, cinematography, score, performances, direction, legacy, etc. Beginning with the opening flickers of film, the first shot that bludgeons our ocular view is of a grimy sign with the words ‘No Trespassing’ zoomed-in so closely, it takes up nearly the entire frame. The cinematography, cloudy night sky at dusk, and heavy chiaroscuro create a dark atmosphere of palpable dread – one whose score parallels its thematic [cimmerian] smokiness and caliginosity with spine-chilling, ominous strings. The shot begins to pan up the fence – highlighting its geometric shape with movement before bringing in rich slow-burn fades of other geometric gate/fence decorations to both disorientate and melt our senses into the environment, while also establishing themes of importance and ritzy opulence; only a very celebratized and wealthy figure could even afford to spend such endless resources on the gate outside his house. A dual-staged shot sees us outside the gate looking at the K family crest and larger-than-life castle in the distance: Xanadu, how far it is from us further highlighting the riches of its owner with miles of backyard, how much he/she values privacy, and how physically out-of-reach we are – a sharp difference of class-status & bourgeoise established by scale. The shot-cycling starts to antagonize us with the impossible wealth of Xanadu we will never experience: a private zoo, lake, golf-course, mountain, & more braggadocios impracticalities no homeowner could ever have except in their wildest dreams/fantasy. However, cues in the audiovisual canvas [sharp, jagged edges and gothic architecture alongside a minor key woodwind score creating disharmonic cryptograms as they glide across the scales, alternated with deafening silence] highlight a mystery through juxtaposition and atmosphere: why is everything presented with such a bleak and desolate view? Where is everyone? Where is the magnate owner of this palatial opulence? How could anyone ever be sad & alone in a place like this?

A. The Backstory & Real-World Inspirations

The Mercury Theatre Saw The Prodigal Rise Of A New Star Chased By Hollywood Execs Since Mid-1930’s – Finally Lured With A Big Idea & Sniper’s Target On Back From Day 1

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The backstory of Citizen Kane begins in The Mercury Theatre. Orson Welles was a prodigal rising star Hollywood had been trying to woo since the mid-1930’s after the breakout financial and critical success of his plays at there and The War Of The Worlds broadcast CBS radio series. Studios like Warner Bros. had offered multiple scripts and hand-invited him to make obscene amounts of money in the far-easier landscape of film than theatre – but O.W., like his own version of a young, idealistic Kane, couldn’t care less about the money and instead prioritized his burning passion/love for theatre. Financial trouble struck after a couple of his plays like Five Kings and The Green Goddess were not-as-well remunerated at the box office [despite being critically-so], and Welles finally humored the incessant knocks at his door by Tinsel-Town elites out of necessity. The first studio tour he was taken on exposed Welles to a new cinematic world amongst the bright lights and rolling green hills of Los Angeles: what he called ‘the greatest electric train-set a boy ever had’ and fell head-over-heels in love with, having far more possibilities and endless budgets to make the masterpieces of his hyper-ambitious young mind [without such real-world limitations or considerations in the comparatively-small/dying theatre]. RKO Pictures offered him a blank check contract with final cut privilege and absolute creative freedom – to the shock, controversy, and mock/ridicule of the cinematic world/press having never seen such a massive, risk-frought, groundbreaking contract.. & all on a first-time, unproven director. Official newspaper headlines called the move ‘laughable’ and ‘the biggest mistake any studio ever made.’ [Who’s laughing now?] The collaborator on the screenplay Welles had freedom to hand-pick was Herman J. Mankiewicz, a sardonic and acclimatized drunkard viewed as a ‘washed-up has-been’ by the Hollywood landscape but O.W. saw greatness within. Pitching the bold/groundbreaking idea to make the film about the life and psychology of one of the world’s richest and most famous men [who also happened to have been in Mankiewicz’ social-circle before he grew to hate him after being exiled from his castle post-melée], Welles put a sniper lens on the hunt of impossible game: William Randolph Hearst.

II. News On The March!

The Complete Antithesization Of The Gloom & Desolation Of The Previous Scene, A Glitzy, Celebratory Real Estate Docufeature; Really A Veiled Critique Of News/Capitalism

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The editing progressively brings us closer and closer to the one window light in the otherwise shadow-overwhelming, desolate canvas until we find ourselves right outside the window and the orchestration crescendoes. We see a man alone on his deathbed, clutching nothing or no one but a snow-globe of a wintery scene as his lips curl off a single word ‘Rosebud’ & his hand goes lifeless – leaving the globe to shatter as he dies to startle us with iconography and perplex our empathy and interests of this mystery person is and why should we care. The scene is perhaps the most content-packed, thematically-complex, viewer-hooking, and avant-garde in cinematic history – a piece that instantly evokes your sensibilities and draws you into the mystery while also critical to understanding the film’s codex of layered symbolism and innerworkings, establishing a non-linear plot structure from the opening second: telling the story from the end instead of the beginning. The bizarre double-take of the light in the window cutting off as the crescendo silences perhaps symbolized CFK’s death, connecting Xanadu and Kane by syncopation before taking us back inside his final moments [a proto-replay, if you will] to see what he told the world & us beyond the fourth-wall about himself. After the gloom and tragic despair of the previous scene, Citizen Kane reverses tone like a Mexican jumping bean to the complete antithesization: a celebratory, jubilant news featurette doubling as a real-estate docufeature on the palace of Xanadu. Of critical importance here is that mentioned even before the man who owned it is his possession. The scene backgrounds the impossible building of Xanadu – a Florida gulf coast kingdom named after Kublai Khan as labor-intensive as the pyramids: 100,000 trees, 20,000 tons of marble, and the treasures of the world where money was no object. The acicularity of contrast between this hyperidealized, luxurious vision of Xanadu [what we’d imagine of its experience] and the real one we saw in the opening scene kickstarts multiple running themes throughout Citizen Kane: the futility and multi-reflexive moralization of the news, a caustic eschewal of capitalism, & psychoanalysis of the incomplete puzzle and [ironically Christian-divergent against our core principles] point of view America takes on celebrities.

B. ‘The Greatest Toy A Boy Ever Had’

A Groundbreaking, Risk-Frought Contract By RKO Pictures To Secure O.W. Scathingly Indicted By News Reporters & Studios; More So When They Learned Of Chosen Subject

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Though a principal source for Charles Foster Kane [hereby abbreviated: CFK or Kane] was never officially confirmed by the duo – claimed a synthesis of different personalities and life events from the giants of journalism like Pulitzer, Northcliffe, Bayard, a few of Welles’ childhood business-tycoon friends: Insull and McCormick, etc. – it was clear to the world and press that Kane was referential to Hearst. Both CFK and Hearst were the sons of parents earning a fortune in mines, attended Harvard before getting expelled, inherited newspapers they turned into empires with yellow journalism [splashy headlines & sensationalism over true, objective reporting based on facts], ran as leftist politicians promising to be ‘champions for the working class’ but failed to achieve elected office, had scandalous romantic affairs with showgirls of which they used their news resources to try to jumpstart their entertainment careers, used the word Rosebud [Hearst using it as a pet name for Davies & her genitalia], and most obviously: built impossibly-grand estates on hundreds of thousands of coastal acres for decades that were never finished. News On The March satirized the journalistic style of The March Of Time docuseries, Walter P. Thatcher was based on J.P. Morgan, and inspiration for Rosebud was born from a treasured childhood bicycle stolen from a young Mankiewicz [with the name also being from the famed racehorse he bet on at the 1914 Kentucky Derby, symbolizing his loss-of-innocence from that childhood carefree kid]. The wildfire that followed when news of this broke to the press is a circus just as theatrical, proving-of-concept, and entertaining than the film.

III. News, Capitalism, & Social Prerogatives

A Blazing Satire Of American Life/Values – Our Celebration & Idol-Worship Of Capitalism & The Rich-And-Famous; The Exploitability Of News To Shape Public View

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Celebration and simplification of complex, multi-faceted, diverse world problems into superficial tidbits for the public has been a problem with the news for generations – one that’s only gotten 100X+ exasperated by the instant gratification & TL:DR culture of The Social Media Age it’s a borderline-miracle Citizen Kane was able to predict nearly a century ahead of its time. The sequence begins meta-analysis of American capitalism: how we idol-worship celebrities, covet their possessions like Xanadu while proclaiming religious piety/holiness, prioritize what a man owned over his contributions and good paid towards society, and overequate money as a cure-all medicine to solve all problems – when it’s not always that simple, as the film introduces its protagonist: Charles Foster Kane. The newspaper headlines exaggerate and sensationalize with bold audacity that ‘the entire nation mourns the death of an outstanding American and sponsor of democracy; the greatest newspaper tycoon of this or any other generation after a lifetime of service. This laughable puff-piece editorial clearly-satirical in farcical tone and disingenuous as we’ll learn from the rest of the film further establishes the futility and exploitable propaganda machine of the news, while reverberating how society does celebrate people like this CFK over [truly] outstanding Americans who actually do give lifetimes of service like doctors, teachers, firefighters, etc. without ever a headline or thank you. This isn’t a localized phenomenon either; civilizations across the world engage in the same self/sociologically-destructive behavior [as hinted by the splice-montage of headlines in various languages from Japanese to Egyptian to Italian] that psycho-conditions us to wow at the wrong things; America just does it far more than most as the perfect stage for the allegorical tale of Charles Foster Kane. The film shifts gear once again from a Greek tragedy opening to documentarian real estate news vignette to semi-autobiographical piece chronicling the rise-and-fall of the capitalist bourgeoise newspaper-tycoon billionaire.

C. A Hunt Of Impossible Game

An Eclectic Canvas Of Real-Life Inspirations For Citizen Kane’s Characters, But One Of The World’s Most Powerful & Richest Men For Protagonist: William Randolph Hearst

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The pre-release controversy of Citizen Kane only further italicizes the magnitude of its achievement, real-world implications, and artistic significance. Orson Welles knew the film would send shock-waves throughout the industry and world by the Moby Dick-sized whale they were hunting like Cpt. Ahab – so he kept access & publicity strictly-limited to the bare minimum required by studio execs and contract. A private, credentialed screening for members of the press was infiltrated by an uninvited columnist working for a paper in Hearst’s news conglomerate by the betrayal of someone involved with the film [a noir/spy-like gritfest in real-life] – and she immediately recognized the sharp-edged satirization and references to her boss. The only one to give it a negative review amongst the critics at-presence, she ran an article highlighting point-by-point comparisons between CFK & WRH before threatening a lawsuit if the film were to be released. News got to Hearst – who enacted the Old Testament fiery-wrath of an unforgiving God and iron fist of a dictatorial and tyrannical/corrupt megalomaniac: commanding every newspaper of his conglomerate of hundreds or thousands to ban from any mention or promotion of Citizen Kane or RKO Pictures. To give an idea of the power & influence William Randolph Hearst had over the public, he ~single-handedly (along with a racism-fearmongering Harold Anslinger) ran a smear campaign against marijuana out of protection of his interests/investments in the timber industry that experts attribute to the lasting delegalizing of the drug even today in the 2020’s worldwide – over half a century later. When power-abuse and media-shaming failed to douse the fiery ambitions of Welles & co., WRH resorted to blackmail with threats to expose the private lives of people throughout RKO/Welles’ circles and film studios alike – plus threats to ruin the reputation of any theatre deciding to premiere or show the film.

IV. The American Dream

A Rags-To-Riches Story Of Easy Beginnings & Hungry Aspirations Turned Empire Of 37 Newspapers, 2 Syndicates, A Radio Network, Grocery Stores, Apt Complex, Factories, Etc.

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The ~10 minute NOTM backstory of Charles Foster Kane is loaded with so much subtext and hidden metaphor/meaning, it could be its own film – and serves the purpose of an origin one, outlining the major events of CFK’s entire life so that the rest of the film is free of plot-shackles and able to go wherever and whenever it wants to put a finer lens. The newsreel frames Kane as The Ultimate American: The American Dream personified, rags-to-riches, and what should be the aspirations of us all to become like. From humble beginnings in Colorado, he grows up the son of a boardinghouse keeper coming into a supposedly-worthless deed to an abandoned mine-shaft – one stricken with hidden gold. The sudden extreme wealth sees his parents give Kane up for psuedo-adoption to a wall-street businessman to learn his ways, one he physically-assaults with a sled on their first acquaintance [extremely important symbolism later-on]. Nevertheless, he’s powerless as a child and has to obey his parents’ wishes – later building his inheritance into an empire of 27 newspapers, 2 syndicates, a radio network, grocery stores, paper mills, apartment complexes, factories, etc. reaching from coast to coast. The puff-piece editorial previously-outlined becomes more grounded in reality here – exposition on both the good and [shockingly]-bad of Kane on his stance-taking/partnerships on every public issue for 40+ years. He fights for low-income families against the wealthy one-second, and sips tea with world leaders like Hitler another: extremely complex moral dichotomization that only further-fuels our blazing intensity of fascination with him. The brilliance of Charles Foster Kane as a protagonist owes major credit to Orson Welles’ performance: the most impressive multi-achievement in cinematic history in his directing/acting/writing/producing/etc. hat for every role behind-the-scenes. The ability to play a man throughout his entire life [young to old; adolescence to deathbed] like this is a miracle of thespianship – even more impressive given his age of only being 24 years old, barely a man, when he delivered Citizen Kane to screen.

D. The Trenches & David v. Goliath

To Give An Idea Of WRH’s Power & Influence On The World Of Mankind: News Campaign Against Marijuana Led To Its Delegalization For Over 50+ Years – Even Still Illegal Today

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The looming apocalypse of studios and execs being exposed to the general public [their customer-base, which WRH showed proof he wasn’t bluffing on by running a story that studios were profiting off free labor by immigrants without fulfilling their promises to pay them at the time] led to even the biggest sharks and presidents of the cinematic world coming forward. MGM patriarch/founder Louis B. Mayer hand-offered RKO & Welles ~$1M [today: $20M+] personally to destroy all prints of the film and burn the negative to wipe it from existence. Though RKO refused, they started to feel the hot grips of panic and doubt of whether they made the right decision backing Welles – violating their contract’s promises of non-interference by frequently sending spies onto the set whom were supposed to report back updates on what they saw, of which O.W. and the cast kept sharp eyes and would cease shooting to play softball every time they found one until they left. One RKO spy managed to evade detection & steal a copy of the Citizen Kane script, which they leaked to the press: the ultimate cinematic sin and slap-of-the-face of a film crew/director, perhaps to soften the blow – more so, a spite of O.W.. The director responded by further-trolling and revengefully provoking the news and circus: the long-awaited trailer thrown to the pack of ravenous wolves after months of silence didn’t feature even a single second of footage of the actual film itself: an original, tongue-in-cheek, behind-the-scene five [sic] minute pseudo-doc conjuring on the film’s production with trick-shots and studio-introductions instead of any narrative material or footage. Real-world dystopia like a sci-fi film, hijinx/satire like a comedy, and fear-based corruption like a political drama paved way to horror when WRH’s rage at not getting what he wanted [likely, for the first time in decades] opened a Pandora’s Box in the trenches. On his way home from a speaking engagement after studio-time one day, Welles was notified by police not to go back to his hotel. A malicious frame-plot involving a little girl in the closet was waiting for him there, according to intel & witnesses.

V. An Entire Man’s Life In 10 Min

The NOTM Feature Outlines The Major Events Of Kane’s Life, Giving Plot-Structural Freedom To Explore + Establishing Complex Moral Dichotomization & A Man Of Mystery

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The regal authoritarian presence, booming thunder of a voice built for teleprompters, robust comportment, and clean-cut opulence of a news-ready banker’s smile with a hearty chuckle make you both love and hate him at the same time – one of the most indescribable and chemically-equilibrized mixes I’ve ever seen on-screen. The characterization is just as complex and dichotomized: the newsreel claims ‘few lives were more public’, but there’s a lot going on behind-the-scenes. Thrice married and twice divorced, the timeline and personal life of CFK are extremely-suspicious – hiding dots just-enough-connectable without outright proof to limitlessly provoke our curiosities. His first life divorcing him in 1916 and dying of a sudden motor-accident with their son in 1918 implies a troubling possibility: did Kane’s superiority complex and lust-for-control lead him to order a hit on his ex-wife with his child as a casualty or fellow-target? Two weeks later remarrying a showgirl named Susan Alexander, the turnaround without ostensible grief/mourn gives further credence to the ghastly conspiracy above – while adding a scandalous affair that makes him lose the governorship of Kansas with The White House in next-view by a wife perhaps leaking the story to turn CFK’s own vehicle/weapon against him: the press. The tragedy of being divorced again after flaunting his money and building his opera singer Suzie her own opera house in Chicago at a cost of $3M ($56,000,000+ in 2021) and the palace of Xanadu evokes pity and empathy for a man with everything on paper – a man many of us thought we’d give anything to be like at the beginning of the scene. Three important themes hinted lightly here to be further-developed later are money vs. love, abandonment, and childhood-trauma. Does CFK hate divorce and abandonment so much because it brings him back to that childhood event of his parents giving him up for adoption? Can money buy happiness and love, or does it shield/falsify it for us? All of these questions linger on the palate as the featurette comes full-circle back to where we started: Xanadu on the dusky night of the death of Kane before it cuts black – leaving exponentially-more questions than answers of what happened to Charles Foster Kane.

E. A Gamechanging Win For Art Freedom

RKO Studio-Interference, News-Blacklists, Hitjobs, Blackmail, Softball Games, Lawsuits, Fake-Trailers, & Box Office Threats: The Journey To Kane’s May 1, 1941 NYC-Premiere

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

One night shortly after the ploy failed and the movie was days away from release, a chance-encounter between Orson Welles & William Randolph Hearst in an elevator at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco pit the two archenemies and their egos/tension in a box of merely feet wide. Welles wryly offered him a ticket to opening night of Citizen Kane, of which he never responded and couldn’t look him in the eye. As WRH got off on his floor after perhaps the most humiliating and humbling experience the world’s most powerful man ever had, Welles said one final line to him as the elevator closed: “Charles Foster Kane would have accepted.” The kaleidoscopic mix of real-world genres Kane experienced on its journey to the big-screen is just as packed, diverse, and extensive as the film itself – the craziest backstory in the history of movies, one we hope gets its own movie one day, and proof of the validity of every psychoanalytical and social-commentary point the film made on the news & William Randolph Hearst. The trench-warfare Citizen Kane experienced in its journey to release made the premiere of this David v. Goliath miracle the greatest triumph of artistic freedom in cinematic history when it finally opened at the RKO Palace Theater on Broadway in New York City on May 1, 1941. Kane failed at the box office by the looming shadow of its patriarch and endless strong-arm corruption tactics placed on any theaters or company talking about the film – but, without its herculean bravery and intensity of strength/conviction to not bend in the face of unfathomable adversity, cinema would have suffered a fatal blow to artistic freedom. Not the slightest bit exaggeration or superlative: movies would have never been the same or been more than toys or propaganda-vehicles for the rich & powerful – and we have to thank Kane for saving cinema.

VI. ‘Not Enough What Did; Who Was He?’

After The Newsreel Concludes, The Smoky Backroom Of Editors Feel It Lacks Depth & Needs Exposition Beyond Headlines: Positive Representation Of Journalism – One Of Few

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

After the newsreel concludes and fourth-wall is broken to take us into a backroom mini-theatre of newspaper editors watching the same vignette-reel we just did, one man sparks a discussion on the merit of the segment. The cinematography in this sequence is impeccable – proto-noir ocular majesty by its heavy chiaroscuro, deep-focus mise-en-scene, atmospheric light/smoke so thick-you-could-cut-it-with-a-knife, and tricky shadow-play as the editors are both physically and metaphorically in-the-dark about who Kane really was. The depth and analysis of the NOTM scene is criticized – one man named Thompson vowing to go beyond the superficial newspaper headlines ‘everyone knows’, which the newsreel previously focused. This is one of the few positive representations of journalism in the entire film; he nails the driving principle of reporting and writing: ‘it’s not enough to know what a man did, who was he?’ and cleverly plans to explore the angle of finding out what his dying final word means: Rosebud. Going hard-boiled detective mode straight out of Dick Tracy comics, the film shifts genres yet again [after a twinge of black comedy/satire in the line ‘Rosebud: it’s probably something very simple!’ (Yeah, not so much.)] with a booming thunderbolt used as transition-cover for a startling buzzsaw-cut into a larger-than-life mural of Susan Alexander Kane on her new nightclub. The fast-pan over the top of the building by the El Rancho Nightclub sign through a rooftop window into the lounge of a washed-up alcoholic Ms. Kane below is perhaps the first [& best] establishment of the aesthetics of the genre of film-noir: heavy rain, neon-signs, chiaroscuro, xylophonic and flute minor-keys, and thematization of private eyes investigating in grimy, sinful venues. Though films in the 1930’s had proto-noir characteristics like The Maltese Falcon, Crime And Punishment, M, Pépé Le Moko, The Beast Of The City, etc., none truly defined and fueled a resurgence of its popularity beyond the fringes of indies like Kane – and an argument can certainly be made that it should be regarded as the creator of how we know the genre today. The introduction to Susan Alexander Kane is a phenomenal one – the bitter snarl of Dorothy Comingore’s performance as the vehemently-rude drunkard wallowing in self-pity [humorously-dichotomized by Will Alland’s fizzy, effervescent Mr. Thompson] is sensational, further evocative of our curiosities of why a divorced woman given everything by Mr. Kane has turned to substance-abuse to drown her ostensible pain and sorrows.

F. The Greatest Character Of All-Time

A Monarchy Of News, Lies, Ignorance, & The Drug Of Money Born From Childhood Pain, Tragedy, & Rejection; A Man Who Becomes Everything He Hates By The Cruelty Of Fate

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The Greatest Character In Movie History, Citizen Kane’s portraiture of its central emperor of newsprint is one for the textbooks and ages – like being in the presence of God, hand-crafting a perfectly-cinematized painting of a man’s life & everything about him in 1hr59min. A child playing in the snowy winter of Colorado is put up for adoption to a bank against his will, and his life is never again the same. The core-stricken tragedy and traumatization of that event shapes the rest of Charles Foster Kane’s life: he grows up alone and isolated, internalizing self-worth doubts and trust issues without a real guardian or the love of parents before inheriting a fortune he doesn’t want on his 25th birthday. Rebuking every penny of it except for a newspaper he flips as a weapon to attack the institution responsible for his life’s woes, the rich and powerful are hunted by CFK’s The Inquirer as their newspaper-circulation grows by honest, grassroots journalism reverberated by Kane’s handwritten declaration of principles/morality to ‘always fight for the average joe and little guy’ [symbolically-representative of him as a child]. The drug of money, fame, and notoriety poison the veins of that plucky, charming, suave, principled Young Mr. Kane and his editorial staff – & he begins to change, eventually becoming the fatcat capitalist villain he so vehemently opposed and promised he’d never become. The Jekyll-turned-Hyde transformation begets tragedy in facets in stark juxtaposition to the material luxury driving [& ruining] his life: rejection by lovers, the public through politics, and his friends – eventually rewriting his newspaper’s raison-d’être as dishing out types of corruption and fake-news by the complete loss of everything he once stood for. Finally, with no one left besides Suzie, his God-complex tries to fabricate a world of his own at Xanadu filled with only lifeless statues [symbolized of his ignorance of how to love/trust, preferring slabs of marble that look like people, but are metaphorically-and-physically without heads and free-will to betray him] he can rule along with her over in a dictatorial monarchy mired in tragedy, pain, childhood-trauma, and the cruelty of fate. This is Godlike character-development of a tier you simply won’t see in any other film ever made – brought to life by a perfect performance and echoed by the rest of Citizen Kane’s cast.

VII. The Defining Of A Film-Noir Genre

A Brilliant Lightning-Clap Transition Births The Aesthetics Of One Of Film’s Greatest Genres: Rain-Soaked Neon Signs, Private Eyes, Chiaroscuro, Grimy Venues, Sin, Etc.

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The suicidal-depths of behavior and erratic rebukes of any conversations to before Charles died, when she’d been reported by employees [humorously getting their memory jogged by crisp dollar bills in classic noir black comedy sin] as ‘just as soon talking about him as anyone – even sooner’, further draws us into the existential intrigue/complexity of their relationship: if she loves and mourns him, why’d she divorce and speak ill of him beforehand? The revelation that even Kane’s own wife doesn’t know what Rosebud is similarly fuels and adds depth to the mystery guiding the film. If this is a secret so deeply-entrenched in a person’s psyche, they’d hide it from a wife they built the biggest castle ever-made & a $56M+ operahouse for, it must go back to childhood or family – Thompson’s next stop. The Walter P. Thatcher Memorial Library is a grand, cold, sterile, plain/unimaginative, marble-laden spectacle farcically-exaggerated by the clever use of echo-distortion of its receptionist’s and Thompson’s voices and fitting for the personality-deprivation of its patriarch banker. Finally getting to the unpublished memoirs of Thatcher [further-mystery as to why they went unpublished even post-death: perhaps forbade by Kane’s legal iron-fist? Perhaps out of guilt?], we’re detailed his first encounter with Mr. Kane on a snowy day back in Colorado in 1871. A 5 year-old CFK frolics in bliss on a winter morning of childlike innocence and not a care in the world: sledding, snowball-fighting, and building snowmen in a canvas of visuals and score that feel almost like a cartoon or Christmas-special in how sugar-coatedly happy/celebratory it is. Unbeknownst to the cavorting youngster having the time of his life, a sinister plot amongst the worst that can ever happen to a child is being mechanized by his parents backstage: consideration of giving him up for adoption – worse, to the farthest thing from a parent: a fatcat banker-capitalist named Walter P. Thatcher. The dichotomization of the best and worst days of CFK’s life happening synchronically mere feet away from each other is highlighted by a masterpiece shot of cinematography and movie-innovation by Toland, ASC: staging both antithetical scenes in different planes of view within the same frame so we can see both scenes happening at the same time. Perhaps commenting on how life and one’s world can change in the flick of an instant by the cruel hand of fate, the inevitable dark prospectus on the horizon uncomfortably approaches as we view the pure cowardice of its parents’ conversation and paperwork.

G. The Performances & Cast

From Comingore’s Bitter, Snarling Suzie To Couloris’ Prim-And-Proper Bank Capitalist To Agnes’ Cold Mother To O.W.’s Miracle Of A Lead: Groundbreaking Italian Neorealisme

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The performance of Orson Welles is a life achievement. Being only 24 years-old and also the writer/director/producer of the film, it’s a damn cinematic miracle one man was blessed with such multi-talents – he hits every note of the ensemble beyond the touch of directors 2-3x his age and with absolute perfection, foremost in acting. The herculean task of playing a character throughout their entire life was – and, is even today – a ludicrous proposition for one actor, rarely-if-ever asked: an impossible task solely plausible by homework to capture the physicality and nuance of things like old age while still in youth, without life experience to have experienced anything like it. The young, clean-cut, suave, charming boy-wonder straight out of college dripping with energy wanting to start a newspaper to fight injustice to the grandiose, booming-voice, thunderous presence of a mid-career politician magnate succumbed to the temptations and delusions of money/power to the frail, hopelessly-alone old man mourning the simplicity and loss of yesteryears are all beautifully painted: entirely different characters even antithetical of one another Welles plays flawlessly – with surgical precision and theatrical thespian pedigree. The rest of the performances are just as sensational; Citizen Kane boasts a once-in-a-lifetime cast & characterization canvas of stars-aligned it’s borderline-impossible was filled by new actors/resses to the screen. Dorothy Comingore’s performance as Suzie Alexander Kane is the masterpiece alongside Welles’ – just as diverse and characterizationally life-long, going from the delicate, feathery, compassionate, effervescent Bronx-talky showgirl and chemistry-fizzy love interest to shrill, angry, suicidal public-slave of CFK singing operatic hymns pleading the gods to strike her down to the alcoholic woe and snarling bitterness we first see her with alone at the El Rancho nightclub. George Couloris is perhaps the shining cinematic example of a snooty, privileged, proper fatcat banker capitalist, Will Alland’s Mr. Thompson the perfect journalist placeholder for audience experience overflowing with charisma and wisecracking jokes to lighten the heaviness of the journey, Everett Slone a humorous and loyal right-hand man, Agnes Moorehead a cold mother ice in her veins but twinges of motherly care, Joseph Cotten the heavy-hitting best friend turned public enemy and emblematic reminder of CFK’s fall from grace, etc. The fact such a cast of diversification and breathtaking character-balance/development was crafted from a series of first-times to movies plays by the rules of Italian Neorealisme, while breaking the ones of Hollywood: proving the greatest performances can come from anywhere, not just the mansions of L.A.

VIII. The Best & Worst Day Of A Child’s Life

A Winter Wonderland Of Childlike Purity & Paperwork Of Being Given Up For Adoption, Simultaneously Captured In One Frame By Cinematographical Magic Of A Toland, ASC

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The inexorably-dark, morbid, offensive brutality of the idea is recognized by Harry Shannon’s drunk/rugged-yet-caring Mr. Kane, belligerently-rebuking Agnes Moorehead’s frigid, ice-cold mother as old-fashioned and conservatively-rigid as her hairstyle. Presented as a villain even colder than the winter day outside putting a price on her child with barely a hint of emotion or facial expression, Mary Kane ignores the cries of her husband’s spot-on analysis we echo in the crowd: this being wrong and ‘a banker being no substitute for a mom and dad’ [even effectively making us hate her by having the audacity to dismiss the argument as ‘nonsense’] and signs to give Thatcher custody in exchange for 50k/year for them for life. The religious iconography and twisted allegory in this scene is breathtaking: a mother named Mary sells her boy-child to a money-crazed, sweet-talking, and expensively/ornately-dressed man with a contract. This could be re-interpreted and packs the existential power of a ‘what if’ scenario of The Virgin Mary selling Jesus Christ as a child to the Devil – supported by details like the suspicious name-sharing of its mothers, namelessness of the fathers in the scene, and well-established pop culture imagery/urban-legend of the devil being connected to banks & using contracts/money to steal souls and first-born children. The power of money plays a big role in the scene – even pacifying Kane Sr. when the amount of money is stated out-loud, driving the betrayal of unfathomable proportions [even though he still objects in powerlessness to his wife’s will, being the owner of the mine/wealth in her name]. As she’s signing the papers, there’s a hint of sorrow in her voice and eyes as Moorehead’s performance and the dynamic shifts – finally displaying some regret and forlorn self-resentment as she reveals some clashing details in sharp juxtaposition to the evil figure we saw for a character as complex as CFK. Revealed is that she’s had his trunk packed for a week, calls out in mother tone to ‘be careful’ of the cold and ‘keep his scarf on’, and leaves the inheritance and principal of the company’s monies in a trust-fund for Charles to be opened on his 25th birthday – reframing the act as perhaps one of [misguided] love and ignorance. Newly-rich, maybe the weight of the pressure of having all that money convinces her to seek a guardian who is well-versed in the subject and knows how to be a rich gentleman in society – something that would be difficult for low-class Coloradoans like the Kanes to even be able to fake amongst the high society now merited by their net worth.

H. The Bible/Encyclopedia Of Techniques

Deep-Focus Cinematography, Chiaroscuro Lighting, Temporal Jump-Cuts, Ceiling Shot Considerations, Cigarette-Burns, Nonlinear Chronology By Multiple POV Narratives, Etc.

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The chip-on-shoulder hunger and youthful tenacity by the cast to prove wrong the critics and naysayers doubting their resumé/abilities is tangible – paralleling The American Dream & underdog ambitions, as well as a major theme throughout the rest of the film’s architects behind-the-scenes. The veritable encyclopedia of techniques and pioneering avant-garde stylistics in Citizen Kane include: deep-focus cinematography, chiaroscuro lighting, temporal jump-cuts, ceiling shot considerations, flashback-dominant storytelling rejecting linear/chronological narratives to reimagine storytelling through multiple divergent POV’s, omniscient perspective only in the beginning and end scenes with personable/unreliable narration between, vignettes, cigarette burns, overlapping montages, panchromatic film, and newsreel footage outlining the highlights of its protagonist’s life story from birth to death at the beginning of the story – only to fill in the gaps later-on. The film is perhaps the most technically-diverse of cinematic history: an achievement even more impossible by the comparatively-nescient time in movie progression to work with and outright-lunacy of being a one-try, freehand masterstroke by a new directorial prodigal son in his first-ever outing on the big-screen. Imagine painting Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ the first time you ever held a paintbrush, scoring Beethoven’s ‘Ninth Symphony’ the first time you ever pressed a piano key, or writing ‘The Iliad & The Odyssey’ having never written a book before: that’s the equivalent of how insane the accomplishment of Citizen Kane is. Ignorance being bliss, Welles’ naïvety of cinematic preconceptions and Hollywood/directorial customs-and-traditions proved to be his emancipation – profiting off his previous theatrical experience, stylistic flamboyance, and attention-to-detail to translate them to a new, bigger canvas he nevertheless paid extensive research/analysis.

IX. Religious Iconography, Darkly-Twisted

Full Of References To Christianity & Messiah Origins Subverted In The Darkest, Most Vile Multinterpretative Ways – A Complex Puzzle Of Morality & Flipped Character Dynamics

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Perhaps Ms. Kane truly believes this will be best for him in the long-term no matter how tough it is now, deluded by fantasies of the rich-and-famous/bourgeoisie panderative to Marxist proletariats and the scary prospect of raising a child in a new reality out of your comfort-zone/experience. Of course, there’s also the possibility the Kanes just gave him up out of selfishness to enjoy their money for the next 20+ years without having to raise Charles – supported by the fact they didn’t even try to see if they could raise him to be a fine young man who just happens to have money, and the fact he’s so young. The real motivations and benevolence/morality of the scene are left ambiguous and up to the multiple interpretations as the conclusion finally reaches: how to tell a young child that they’re leaving forever and will never see their parents again. The reaction of CFK is heartbreaking: palpable disgust, fear, and anger escalating into physical assault of Thatcher with his sled [extremely important symbolism for later exposition]. As if the dynamic wasn’t complex enough, Kane Sr. threatens Charles with a ‘good ol’ thrashing’ for his outlandish and rude [yet understandable] behavior – and the statement by Mary of ‘that’s why Charles is going to be raised in a place where you can’t get at him’ while she hugs him implies this a regular occurrence or pattern, further calling into question our preconceptions. The scene exemplifies the film’s master-craftsmanship of being able to flip characters developmentally with surgical precision/touch and create impossible-decisions/scenarios: here eviscerating our first reactions by reframing Kane Sr. from hero to villain and Mary from villain to hero, while letting both be partially-correct with no clear solution of what to do about Charles Foster Kane. The time-lapse of snow piling on the sled outside Kane Boardinghouse, graphic-matched to a Christmas present of a new sled for an uncaring CFK is spliced mid-sentence into a fast-forward/jump-cut of 20+ years: one of the most ambitious and unheard-of editing progressions in cinematic history.

I. An Impossible First-Try Masterstroke

Imagine Painting Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Scoring Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Or Writing The Iliad & The Odyssey On Your First-Ever Try In A New Medium; A Miracle

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Rumors of O.W. having film textbooks delivered to him on-set and watching such works as The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, Stagecoach, & the films of Frank Capra, Fritz Lang, King Vidor, John Ford, and Jean Renoir with studio-execs and technicians who worked on them to ask how/why things were done paint a young man with unbridled ambition to learn the medium. The work-ethic was never-before-seen – according to reports, Welles spending 16-18 hours/day on set from 5AM to nighttime [including weekends, when most hollywood fatcats would be passed out in their multi-million dollar hillside mansions with a bottle of hennessy hungover with their own Suzie besides them]. It got to the point that he would be the only car parked in the studio-lot and be only greeted by security-guards on night-shift at the insane hours he worked: the legwork to achieve a masterpiece refreshingly more like a military bootcamp than the glitz, glamour, and egocentrism of classical Hollywood. The big dreams of the director went so far as to reject the usage of master shots because he had learned his idol John Ford never used them – almost impossible and unheard of at the time [master shots being historically the most important shot of any scene of a film beforehand, recording an entire dramatized scene from a camera angle that kept all players in view so as to function as an establishing shot and foundational camera coverage] only rebuked by a master of the craft with decades of experience this first-time director wanted to emulate. This is, quite literally, the cinematic equivalent of first learning to ride a bike at the tour-de-france.. down a hill.. without training wheels – and it’s matched by reports that Welles frequently demanded perfection of the cast and himself in a clockwork-mechanized studio schedule, requiring rehearsal on your own time so as to capture scenes in one take without reshoots. The techniques in Citizen Kane might not be the first-times they were ever used: deep-focus, chiaroscuro, and temporal jump-cuts being found in German Expressionist films of the 1920’s, VFX in the films of Méliès, ceiling shots in von Stronheim’s 1925 Greed, newsreel montages by Dziga Vertov, flashbacks in 1933’s The Power & The Glory, etc. Kane was the first one with the balls to bring them all together simultaneously and perfect each, though: deserving credit for giving them meaning & cinematic life historically.

X. The Inquirer & A Coming-Of-Age CFK

A Stylish & Cutting-Edge 20+ Year Jump-Cut Finds CFK Grown Up: Rebuking Inheritance To Run A Newspaper Attacking The Rich & Powerful; A Voice Where Once He Had None

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The earliest possible symptoms point to CFK’s eschewal of money/materialism and prioritization of fun. On the telegram-proclamation of his 25th birthday and inheritance of the sixth largest private fortune in the world [one 99% of us would gladly accept, or think we’d be happy with] Charles Foster Kane writes back none of the enterprises ‘interest’ him but The Inquirer – only because ‘it’d be fun to run a newspaper’ as a ghastly-faced Thatcher elicits laughs from us in the audience. At 25, CFK is still bright-eyed, rebellious, pugnacious, immature, and fun-minded – much like his childhood-self, perhaps signifying he was developmentally-stunted by the psychological trauma of that Colorado day. This goes even farther: the projects of The Inquirer almost exclusively attack big corporationalism and business – true underdog journalism to hold the rich & powerful accountable, and which can be seen as the ultimate flex rebuke/rejection of the position he was put in as a kid; he attacks the institution that took him away and everything Thatcher stands for out-of-spite and revenge in the most unforgiving way possible: public humiliation to a growing worldwide audience, flipping the voicelessness and powerlessness he had as a kid to a weapon: absolute brilliance of characterization, screenwriting, farcical-satire, and psychology by Mankiewicz. CFK embraces his own duality and fractured-psyche here to make Thatcher’s [& the likes of Thatchers around the world] life a living hell – pure comedy as the film shifts genres once again. The rebelliousness and FU attitude Kane displays is something we see a lot in 21st Century tech/media companies & start-ups today, nearly a century beforehand as it’s revealed he was expelled from ‘lots’ of colleges and and doesn’t seem to give a damn about anyone or anything besides his crux of a personal compass. The mission he wears like a heart on his sleeve of ‘protecting the hard-working, small-business Americans of the community because they haven’t got a voice for themselves’ is personal and applicable to himself metaphorically: he as a man is now protecting the helpless and beaten-by-life/fate he once was, realistic vigilantism of the types straight out of a comic book hero origin. This ‘philanthropic’ enterprise is even revealed to be costing the young Kane $1M/year, but plans to continue it anyways – flexing his money like a young Bruce Wayne/Batman [a year post-creation of the pop culture icon].

J. The Mix Of Genres

A New-Age Opera, Political-Drama, Black Comedy, Mystery-Noir, Satirization, Greek Tragedy, Romance, Character-Study, News Feature, Biographical/Psychological-Pièta

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The most diverse and hyper-ambitious film ever made, Citizen Kane is a new-age opera, political-drama, black comedy, romance, satirization, & noir biographical/psychological-pièta, all in the same 2-hour movie perfectly-achieving each one of its genres in a flawlessly-blended mixture. This is not only the textbook film of any cinephile’s or critic’s dream technique-wise, but also genre-wise – the exemplification of how to alchemize flavors to create new blends & cocktails of movies and film I would first recommend to anyone looking to get into film analysis. Beyond, the most innovative technical aspect/fundamental of Citizen Kane – as we begin to go criterion-by-criterion – is its avant-garde cinematography style. Toland, ASC was the one veteran in the film’s crew of newcomers and hungry youth in their 20-30’s: a makeshift father-figure for Welles and the still ~immature group of importance & experience: cited amongst the top cinematographers in the world at the time. Being procured only because of the coverage of a first-time director – giving him opportunities to try new experimentalist styles no established name would co-sign, Toland lived up to that promise 10x over. The cinematography signature of Citizen Kane is its extended use of deep focus: staging the foreground, background, and everything in-between all in sharp focus at the same time, a new once-in-a-generation development in the science of motion pictures he called ‘pan-focus’. The masterstroke achievement gave the experimental camera-lens the ability to see an entire panorama in-view/focus at once with everything clear and lifelike – akin to the anatomically-complex lens of the human eye for a prismatic level of realism and evolution of cinema stylistically. O.W. praised Toland’s innovation while demanding more – pushing low-angle shots by their dynamic look/feel, extreme close-ups, mise-en-scène, and challenging studio conventions of foregoing ceiling shots by constantly craning the camera upwards [correcting what he viewed as bad theatre, pretending a ceiling was there when it was really fabric concealing microphones]. Welles demanded hyper-realism and wanted the camera to see real room, shots, and geometric angles as we do – also spicing up the interiors of sets. Perry Ferguson’s art direction and set design was created with O.W. by rough draft-sketches being made into miniature models experimented on through periscope to perfect each shot beforehand.

XI. 5 ~Anti-Chronological Vignettes

The Plot-Structure Breaks Every Rule Of Previously-Established Cinema, & We’re Taken As Bystanders Into Scenes Of Critical Thematic Value To Solving Kane’s Puzzle

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

As the plot-structure becomes increasingly avant-garde, we’re tossed around in ~anti-chronological vignettes breaking every narrative rule of cinema and challenging the viewer to stitch the plot together out-of-order – each vignette of importance to solving the puzzle of Charles Foster Kane, too. After the snow-day tragedy and coming-of-age shenanigans [both establishing CFK’s hatred for Mr. Thatcher, one that’s never resolved], we jump to 1929 and The Great Depression. The recession and bankruptcy wave hits Kane’s empire and syndicates hard – to the enjoyment of Thatcher at the expense of Kane Jr.’s misfortunes. Multiple lines in the dialogue here are very important: Kane tells Thatcher ‘you’re too old and were always too old’ [not speaking to his physical age, being only 20’s-to-30’s when he adopted CFK, but his personality age of a boring banker he couldn’t confide or reconcile friendship within], never made investments but only used money to ‘buy things’ [indicative of an addiction to the transactional and instant-gratification natures of money – critical in understanding the psychology of Kane in how the mindset later soaks into his personal relationships and multifaceted downfall], cries he always ‘gagged on the silver spoon’, bemoans he ‘might’ve been a great man if he hadn’t been rich’ but thinks he did okay under the circumstances, and responds to Thatcher’s question of what he’d like to have become if he hadn’t gotten his fortune so young with ‘everything you hate’. The unmistakable establishment of someone with such a revulsive abhorrence of money continues, but there are hints he’s become partially dependent on; the idea of having to sell or lose inheritance money to Thatcher would’ve rolled like water off a duck’s back to the young CFK, but here: there’s a melancholy in the atmosphere like he’s ~disappointed and introspective woe-is-me that unspools a lot of subconscious string – as well as being one of the only times Kane actually laments and physically-references his past/backstory on-screen. The film briefly detours into more comedy as a present-day, disgruntled Mr. Thompson begins to even asks even random secretaries and security guards if they ‘happen to be [mythical] Rosebud’ & transitions to interviewing is closest circle. The crotchety old Mr. Bernstein [there before the beginning of Kane’s rise and after the end of Kane’s fall] posits it must be a girl or lost-love, while wisely parabolizing that ‘money’s easy to make if all you care about is making money’ like Mr. Thatcher but Kane was never about making money. The man being an enigma even in death to two of the closest branches on his tree of life, Bernstein suggests Leland – Kane’s best friend since the beginning, and one who grew up what Kane ‘wanted to be’: poor and carefree. The revelation of Leland’s backstory is just-as-dark [if not more so], his previously-rich father shooting himself in the head out of debt – again highlighting the dark side of money and its grip on the poor souls it catches in its web, the key words of the description being ‘one of those situations’ like Bernstein sees them often.

K. Cinematography, VFX, & Mise-En-Scène

The One Veteran Crewmember, Toland ASC Signed On For Ocular Innovation By Deep-Focus Canvas – Together W. Editing, Set Design, & VFX/Make-Up, Visual Revolution

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Of course, Xanadu is its own masterpiece achievement – a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance stylistic elements perversely juxtaposing incongruous architectural motifs to satirize and thematically-parallel the labyrinthine of Hearst’s mind through his castle. RKO cut the film’s budget by 1/3 mid-filming – what would be a fatal blow to most crews but a stroke Kane’s worked through to shoot around and stage different pieces of the pre-made 106 sets/miniatures to give the impression grandeur and the multi-billion $ paradisiac castle it appears on-screen: majestic, opulent, and visually-sumptuous by ocular trickery. The editing is just as much a character in the film as any of its cast: boundary pushes by Robert Wise and Mark Robson [who would both go on to become prominent directors later themselves]. The detailed instructions O.W. left them on each scene gave the perfect fragments to stitch together: bones they infused with flesh and life by stylistic transitions to collapse time and space. Slow-dissolves signify long passages of time and their psychological effects on the characters, episodic sequences on the same set see characters change only costume/make-up between shots like the transition packed years between a singular cut, and other techniques like cigarette-burns, curtain-wipes, and whip-pans maximize expressiveness and vicissitude. The lack-of-coverage by the presence of no master shots made ‘in-camera’ editing easier too , and the film typically favors mise-en-scène over montage – a bold evolution of cinematic worldview O.W. provoked by things like jarring cuts of wild contrast in the opening deathbed of Kane to News On The March and breakfast sequence chronicling 16 years of [progressively-devolving] marriage into two minutes of rhythmically-cycling screentime. The make-up/VFX are yet another work of pure cinematic witchcraft for the time. Not only is experimentation with optical printer VFX trick-elements by Dunn avant-garde to catalyze major changes post-production – but as is its extrapolation of miniatures to look real by scale considerations, matte-shots, and rear-screen projection in the background of scenes. These cutting-edge stylistics can be found, for example, in the ocean background at Xanadu when it was shot land-locked and when Suzie tries to commit suicide [the foreground shot with the background dark, then vice-versa and the film rewound to put all action physically spliced together in-frame].

XII. The Declaration Of Principles

The Warm, Jovial, Pure-Of-Heart Young Kane Rebukes The Silver-Spoon To Adopt The Label Of Citizen: A Champion Of The People Born Of Benevolence & Promises

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The cinnamon swirl of a plot/tonal structure flashes back from forlorn remembrance to [momentary] joy once again as we jump like a cat on a hot tin roof back to the youth-energized, slapstick/joke-filled startup venture of The Inquirer. The meaning of the eponymous title of the movie is also revealed by CFK’s declaration of principles – a personal promise he hand-writes and plasters on the front page of the newspaper to always tell the news honestly, without special party interests/interference & be a champion of the people and their rights as citizens [humbling himself to the level of Citizen Kane, rebuking the privilege, wealth, aristocratic/upper-class status, and silver spoon status his family title gives him to try to be one of them]. Touching as it is representative of Kane’s burning desire for love/acceptance, the scene paints a warm, jovial, slightly-rotund Robin Hood-esque CFK it’s certainly easy to get behind as a protagonist – the scene bolstered by audiovisual cues like the blasting of light from NYC windows on cloudless days and cavorting, silly-horns juxtaposed with light orchestration that beams with optimism, innocence, and good intentions [feeling like a Chaplin or slapstick/farce film]. Again stylishly crashing all previous aphorisms and semblances of a rulebook-thrown-out, we see a photograph on a wall of a newspaper CFK wants to buy – touted as ‘the greatest newspaper staff in the world’ & of which he seemingly walks us into the picture with six years past and consolidation of The Dream Team under his name. The nuances change in Kane’s personality over the meantime: he boasts a braggadocios douchiness and superiority complex far diverged from the wet-behind-the-ears young man-of-the-people we saw before. Indeed, CFK is almost nauseatingly-pretentious as he brags about having the biggest circulation in New York City, sends a picture of his new staff to the previous newspaper he stole them from, & celebrates in a backroom adorned with K-shaped ice sculpture. The evisceration of innocence and morality is striking, its Jekyll-to-Hyde transformation being hard-hitting commentary on the deleterion of fame & having more money than anyone could spend in a lifetime – ensnaring even a pure-of-heart young Kane given every reason to hate it deep in his bones.

L. The Make-Up

Magic A Century Ahead-Of-Its-Time, The Ability To Convincingly Age A Man From Youth To Death On-Screen Before Color TV, Computers, Microwaves, Or Even The Slinky

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The behind-the-scenes crew captured magic a century ahead-of-its-time with its ability to age through make-up. Today in 2021, billion-dollar corporations like Netflix pay tens of millions of dollars to de-age actors like Robert De Niro [The Irishman] digitally – and can barely do it convincingly, even with 80+ more years of scientific and technological advancements. Kane did it back in the 1940’s: before there were even computers, color televisions, microwaves, or even the damn slinky.. on a shoe-string budget, not through over-reliance on technology – but through practical VFX, zeal, and old-fashioned craftsmanship. Make-up artist Maurice Seiderman wasn’t even viewed as important enough to be accepted to the union of his workplace, a junior member of the RKO make-up department only recognized as an apprentice and [yet another] disrespected young talent with something to prove to fit snugly in the overarching pattern of Kane behind-the-scenes. Thoroughly-analyzing each principal actor/ress’ face, ‘Mo developed plans for aging them by making plaster casts. The crowning achievement, though, was the full-body mold for Welles’s Kane – one he created by sculpting pieces of white modeling clay onto its surface and casting the clay in a soft plastic material he chemically-formulated himself, on which he put paint, wigs, red earth-tone [fauxing bloodflow], scleral lenses to dull the brightness of young eyes, and colorless translucent talcum with the physiological accuracy and depth/detail of an M.D. [down to even the detail of blood-vessels to replicate the arcus senilis of old age.] The magic of movies to be able to film an entire man’s life for psychoanalysis and entertainment is even more so pure witchcraft technically here. The make-up and VFX capabilities of film overall have blossomed in the near 100+ years since – from TDK’s Joker to Harry Potter’s Voldemort to Nightmare On Elm Street’s Krueger to Mystique and Game Of Thrones’ Night King, but perhaps none of these are as impressive by the forced innovation in the stark absence of technological cruxes.

XIII. The Reversion Of Principles

A Challenging Newspaper Staff Portrait Used As Cover For Graphic-Match Jump-Cut, A Different Kane – Only 6 Years Later, Nauseatingly-Pretentious/Braggadocios

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The scene is a woozying, overblown circus of excess/sin that’s easy to get intoxicated on – ice sculptures of each-and-every board member, a round table of wild booze-drinking & cigar smoking men, scantily-glad showgirls twirling batons in nothing more than lingerie & thigh-high bousties, and a freaking marching bad as if the procession wasn’t crazy enough. The cinematography and score wildly-twists and turns in quick celebratory successions to add to the hallucinogenic brew of substances and endorphins, as we’re given a frightening view into the new Kane’s worldview. Taking a vacation to Europe and buying-up ‘all the statues in Europe’ while lamenting he’s behind because ‘they’ve been making them for thousands of years and he’s only been buying for five,’ Leland and Bernstein make him promise to buy more – to which he makes a snide, daggerful remark: ‘you don’t expect me to keep those promises, do you?’ What happened to that charming young man we just saw in the previous scene: the one who couldn’t care less about money and had moralistic depth in even the promises made in his own Declaration Of Principles? The conversation mimics the one the trio had back when Kane wrote the declaration – Leland and Bernstein pleading him to ‘not make promises he can’t keep’ but reassuring them he will. Here, the sly innuedo and double-entendre plus singular attention to the way he delivers the same word ‘promise’ implies he knows he’s gone against his moral code and everything he once stood for.. and worse, has the audacity to make jokes about it in a sardonic black comedic way! Toto, we’re not in [Colorado] with that young, innocent kid anymore. As Kane’s escapade through Italy and France begins, we see an Inquirer-backroom filled with busts and marble statuettes [indicating CFK wasn’t bluffing: blowing money on nonsense items no one needs, perhaps for the thrill]. A telegram he sends to the crew about wanting to buy the world’s biggest diamond prompts another classic line of introspective clues to what drives Kane’s spending: Bernie claims ‘he’s not collecting diamonds; he’s collecting someone who collects diamonds’.

M. The Score

Another Newcomer Disrespected By The World & RKO, Bernard Hermann In His First Motion Picture – Offered ~Nothing To Fuel The Fire To Similarly-Innovate Acoustically

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The acoustic soundtrack of Citizen Kane is every iota as diverse and innovative as its visual one. Bernard Hermann delivered a career work, making full utilization of the 12 weeks afforded him – a century by comparison to the 2-3 week industry-norm. The extra time gave him opportunity to characterize, work-and-rework, double/triple-check, and nail every sequence in full orchestrations and conductions from pen-to-paper-to-screen. Again highlighting the overlooked and underrated young prodigal talents thread running through the lineage of Kane’s behind-the-scenes artists, Hermann was offered near-nothing by an RKO playing contractual hard-ball on what was his first big motion picture. Welles stood by his pick and demonstrated great character by demanding he get paid the same rate as the greats with the ultimatum he’d stir up trouble or leave – and RKO obliged. The films of 1930’s Hollywood ~never deviated from the basic pattern of how sound is recorded and used in movies, but O.W. demanded [as he did in every aspect of Citizen Kane] innovation, complexity, and perfection in soundscape. Techniques he brought over from his radio experience helped create a new feel in cinema: overlapping dialogue, divergent perspectives to create the illusion of distances, echo, creation of audio montages, and sound VFX created by himself and the crew instead of using the RKO Studios library for stock/basic effects [like any other filmmaker would’ve]. There’s also extensive usage of ‘lightning mixes’: complex montage sequences liked via a series of related sounds or phrases, such as in the scene where Kane grows from a child to young man in just two jump-cut shots: ‘Merry Christmas – [cut] – And Happy New Year’ like a continuation of the sentence linking over two decades of stoppage time in two shots/seconds. Bernard worked in these techniques beautifully, while bringing majestic touch and stylistic competence all his own and far beyond the realms of his experience. Embrasure of the sound-of-silence rejected the hackneyed hollywood commonality of scoring films with non-stop music, and his orchestral/instrumental sequences burst with character, timbre diversity, & emotionalism.

XIV. Toto, We’re Not In [Colorado] Anymore

A Parade Of Excess, Sexily-Clad Showgirls, Booze, Cigars, & Personality-Twists By The Comfort & Prestige Of Money/Power, CFK Starts To Bend Every Promise He Once Made

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Returning to The Daily Inquirer, Kane makes an announcement of his engagement to Emily Monroe – the president’s niece in a sudden twist that symbolizes both CFK’s happy-go-lucky view/ignorance of love by how little he must know about her from only a few weeks/months and perhaps an objectification of people by the suspicious timing of marrying the daughter of the world’s most powerful political figure soon before he decides to run for governorship himself. Regardless, the happy vignette is marked by serenado violins that feel like floating on La Seine or a concerto on seasons: a scene of newlywed bliss that perhaps shows how different things look in hindsight-vs.-experience by far different from what we know later happens in their messy divorce and [murder]/vehicle-‘accident’ we’re dying to see how it fell apart. Concluding that she was no Rosebud by how violently and murkily it ended & summarizing Suzie as just having ‘ended’ too like it was no big deal, Bernstein remarks that it must be something he lost – although Mr. Kane lost ~everything he had in the end. Taking that clue [one that’s actually right, looking back post-film] to CFK’s ‘best friend’: Jedidiah Leland, who recalls ‘everything’, equating memory to the great curse of mankind and saying ‘maybe [he] wasn’t [Kane’s] friend, but if [he] wasn’t, [Kane] certainly never had one’. This beautiful, sad revelation of Leland even questioning if he was his friend and being the closest thing he ever had to one in life humanizes and brings us back to feelings of pity instead of hatred of Kane – ones that get certainly further developed by the middle and final acts of the film. Leland recounts headbutts with Kane going back to the Spanish-American War – one J.D. and Bernstein viewed as an abuse-of-power/influence and ‘Mr. Kane’s War’ and one he perhaps started and killed millions of lives.. just because he could. The psychoanalysis CK fosters on Kane gains new perspective from his right-hand-man and Robin like ‘nobody ever having so many opinions in everyhting, but never believing in anything except Charlie Kane – going to his deathbed without one conviction.’ Even Leland doesn’t know about Rosebud, but gives us further insight into CFK’s first marriage as another dazzling avant-garde transition places his figure in frontal projection as the background warps to a flashback: a proto-greenscreen.. only a few decades before it was ever popularized like it is today [NBD!]. If that wasn’t enough – the two antithetical realities of Kane and Emily’s marriage are merged by a brilliant technical masterstroke scene showing the dissolve of their marriage: the now-famous breakfast table montage.

N. The Score [Cont.]

A Pièta Of Acoustic Expressiveness Utilizing Radio Techniques, Lightning Mixes, Bold New Instrument/Timbre Combinations, Emotion, Orchestral Diversity, & An OPERA

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Recording of musicians in direct, by-the-hour sessions gave Hermann opportunities to score avant-garde combinations of instruments never-before-heard in film – like the opening Xanadu leitmotif of low woodwinds juxtaposed with quartet alto flutes and even xylophonics. There are tons of experimental orchestral sequences that parallel narrative themes throughout the film, like the breakfast table montage beginning with a graceful waltz and getting progressively darker with repetition in each variation of the melody as Kane and Monroe’s marriage falls apart: pure brilliance. Then, there’s the opera. The damn impossibility of a film having its own opera is reason alone why Citizen Kane is the greatest movie ever made: a perfectly-crafted, sardonic meta-parodization/satire of the timeless medium fringed with thematic analysis of the relationship of CFK & Suzie. The aria from Salammbô of Rossini’s Il Barbiere Di Siviglia flipped upside-down and key-transposed to a pitch high out of the register of Comingore’s Suzie by-design, the film ostracizes and bullies the small girl into a quicksand punching bag for audience laughter – as Kane has out of misplaced love [or self-ingratiation] by forcing her to go up there. Other music in the film comes from eclectic sources in O.W.’s life experiences – the publisher’s theme of ‘Oh, Mr. Kane’ from Mexico, Xanadu’s from Gunga Din by Alfred Newman, News On The March’s from Belgian March by Anthony Collins, and a 1939 jazz trio by Nat King Cole with lyrics centering around the phrase ‘can’t be love’ played outside the tent of the finale’s picnic and Thompson-Suzie interview for maximum narrative/thematic-parallels that work on every level. Even the smallest of details in the soundscape of Citizen Kane were considered and parsed for sonic expressiveness – like Comingore having the inside of her throat sprayed with real-life chemicals in the El Rancho nightclub scene to give her voice a harsh, raspy tone of pain & regret epitomizing the character’s post-Kane rock-bottom we first see.

XV. The Breakfast Table

Through The Eyes & Fresh Perspective Of Leland, A Cutting-Edge, Symbolic Portrait Of His First Marriage: Pursuit Of Normalcy With Love-Ignorance & [Hidden] Agendas

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

~20 years spliced together in two minutes by whip-pan cycles of editing genius, the newlyweds’ lovey-dovey eyes and marriage bliss grows progressively apart by the metaphorical and physical space between them in the scene – pushed by a noticeably elongating and ornate luxury table: further symbolizing money and its pursuit by Kane’s long work hours being the object catalyzing the division. There’s one critical [seemingly-benign] line in CFK criticizing Monroe’s policies and Emily defending him by saying ‘He’s President; you aren’t, Kane’ – perhaps the condescensive remark that planted the seed of Kane’s political campaign or what further drove the splinter down their marriage. They finally aren’t even speaking to each other, as Leland analyzes that he ‘married looking for love, but that’s why he did everything – even politics – so millions of people would love him’. This all returns to that one day in Colorado, for now setting the stage for a future political-drama vignette as the film first transitions into the romance of CFK’s second-wife: Suzie Alexander Kane. Painted with breathtaking passion and beauty, the romance is as soft, elegant, vivacious, and star-crossed as any romance film I’ve ever seen – looking like Kane finally got his happiness and found his soul-mate, all a byproduct of something as small as a toothache. More satisfying to both Charles and us in the audience is that Suzie doesn’t know [or at least: acts like she doesn’t know, impossible to tell but more likely being she just doesn’t know by her personality/traits] who he is – someone liking him for who he is beyond his money, fame, and status. The chemistry of the pair – especially Comingore’s delicate, feathery, compassionate, Bronx-talky showgirl – lights up the screen dazzlingly: a collection of little moments and physicality tremors evolving the more the duo gets to know each other [while also giving further glimpses into CFK’s psyche by how vehemently and with merciless bloodthirsty rage he reacts to being laughed at, even when a side-effect of novocaine/nitrous oxide laughing-gas by Suzie’s dental procedure]. The fate of meeting when CFK was on his way to go through his childhood belongings (the only time the act is mentioned in the film, what would be a highly-traumatic one as perhaps why he avoided it) after the passing of his mother is highly-coincidental – feeling like destiny.

O. The Universal Film

Applicable 100+ Years Later & To-Be 1,000+, Themes Of Religion, News, Greed, Politics, Capitalism, Tragedy, Psychology, Emotion, & The Mysteries Of Life And Our Experience

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The legacy of Citizen Kane goes far beyond its triumph of artistic & journalistic freedom against the rich-and-powerful elite; the film is perhaps the ultimate piece of human expressionism through the arts. Themes in Citizen Kane are so foundational to our core and intensely-relatable, the film is just as cutting-edge and applicable to all of us 100+ years later as it was on opening night – and which is will be 1,000+ and 10,000+ from now. Themes of religion, news, greed, politics, tragedy, psychology, trauma, emotion, and the mysteries of life, fate, and our experience in mankind are all deftly weighed and analyzed by the once-in-a-millennium achievement of Kane: all through the life-story of one man used as a prism for all of us. There’s truth, depth, elegance, & symbolic/allegorical beauty beyond any other film I’ve ever seen in my career in Citizen Kane – it challenges us, makes us reevaluate how we view the world, tells us about ourselves, and makes us feel a kaleidoscope of emotions that makes it the foremost example of what film is and should be at maximum performance. The legacy of CFK goes beyond artistic value and freedom; it also film catalyzed a bloom-evolution of cinema as an artform – perhaps the biggest [& most important] legacy of any film ever made. The dark message that can be found at the heart of Kane’s cynicistic nihilism [the futility of aspiration and pursuit of riches/success failing to mask real-world tragedy in our deepest subconscious] was not a popular one at the time: perhaps the first true counter-culture picture in the history of movies, rejecting the shackles of feel-good/mindless bubblegum expected of movies as nothing more than escapist gimmick to elevate the medium. Due to its lowbrow competition and apathetic status-quo, cinema was considered a lesser artform – the ugly cousin of complex mediums like literature, music, and painting & meritless kitsch. Citizen Kane changed the entire world’s view on what cinema is and could be – taking a sledgehammer to preconceptions and everything Hollywood & the world knew from the comfortable, ritzy, low-hanging fruit of an era pre-May 1, 1941.

XVI. The Star-Crossed Love Of CFK x Suzie

The Soft, Elegant, Passionate, Beautiful Romance Dazzles: The First To Love CFK Beyond Fame & Money, In Whom Kane Sees Himself; A Chance To Give Back & Fix Fate

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

A whirlwind of emotions and psychological resurgences in juxtaposition of the age difference is perhaps what shifts Kane’s position with Suzie towards being more that of a parent in the guise of a lover; he sees in her the love-opportunity to give back what never was his and be what he most desperately wanted in childhood: his mother, merged with the inescapable modernized influence of money on is life/psyche in how he parents. This can be seen in how strongly he reacts to Suzie’s passive remark of her mother always wanting her to be an opera-singer – latching onto the idea with an asphyxiative grip out of importance to him that would define [and deteriorate] the rest of their relationship. The couple bonds over the chansons – in the meanwhile, Kane growing a political campaign for governor in massive public hall speeches feeling [& looking by iconography/aesthetics] more like a third-world country dictatorship than U.S.A. democracy. One of the few times we see Kane feel at-home [along with Suzie’s apartment, being the closest thing to unconditional love he’s seemingly felt thus far in life] on that podium, we see him laugh and smile and make promises to roaring, thunderous applause. Promises, once again, are a huge theme in Citizen Kane – being what an idolized young Kane made in benevolence to himself and the public when he founded The Inquirer, what he started breaking in pursuit of money and materialist excess when its vices started to get to his head, what his parents broke when they gave him up for adoption, and here what he’s making again [at least, superficially to get elected]. The character-arc in this theme has gone full-circle, reversed by the fact that his promises are the same ones he made back in The Declaration Of Principles in The Inquirer years ago: to protect the average joe and working citizen from big corporations on a bigger scale, without the moralistic code/values to believe what he’s rattling off from the teleprompter/notes. Nevertheless, he sells the idea to crowds of supporters [a banker: no different from Thatcher now] and bursts with a smile that could light up a room as every aspect of his life is clicking on-all-cylinders – the calm before a storm of tragedy strikes.

P. Legacy

Film [Finally] Viewed On The Same Level As Painting, Music, & Literature; The Greatest Artform, Combining Into One – Mona Lisa W. A Beethoven Score & Gatsby Screenplay

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

RKO studio-execs reportedly told O.W. & Mankiewicz to ‘dumb the film down’ and that ‘people aren’t paying their hard-earned 25 cents to see Shakespeare’ – even resorting to hard-ball, strongarm tactics the crew vehemently rejected to stay true to their mission to bring heart, soul, and a brain to cinema: The Wizard Of Oz to its artform. Kane not only challenges and stands its own against artforms with centuries of lore and pasts; it exemplifies why cinema is the best and ultimate artform even only a few decades into its existence. The visual expressiveness and ocular power of painting in every frame of its beautifully-cinematographed canvas, sweeping melodies and soaring auricular ensembles of music in highly-diverse and thematically-paralleled score leitmotifs, and power of critical-thinking/analysis & social-commentary of literature in its byzantine and labrynthian script, Citizen Kane shows through its mad-science chemistry that cinema can be a combination of the best aspects of each traditional medium for maximum artistic experience beyond the sum [or any singular one] of its parts. The film is a neo-Mona Lisa with a score evocative of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and screenplay of cues from The Great Gatsby. The Da Vincian complexity and multi-interpretability of its psychological, quasi-biographical character portraiture on CFK [as well as metaphysical themes on the search for identity and meaning of life] was groundbreaking for the medium – a Baroque masterpiece delivered at a time its competition was drawn with crayons. Citizen Kane was just as innovative stylistically and behind-the-scenes: extremely-potent auterism, mise-en-scéne in diametric opposition to soviet montage theory, non-linear plot structure, heightened cinematic realism, long takes, deep focus, low angles, chiaroscuro lighting, depth-of-field, & the achievement of youth and inexperience [+ bold ideas/ambition] over only-stars and big names. The film paved the way for the entire multiverse of cinema we know today: convincing studios to make more dark-horse bets and audiences to demand them to continually cycle evolution of the artform: mutual symbiosis.

XVII. ‘All He Wanted Out Of Life Was Love’

A Career-Change To Politics Fueled By CFK’s Existential Drive To Be Loved – By Millions Out Of Revenge; At-Home On The Podium, & Again Making Promises Like The Inquirer’s

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The cruelty of fate everpresent, Kane’s high and a guaranteed campaign win by early polls crashes to rock-bottom as his two halves and private worlds collide and clash: Suzie and his family. The revelation he was still married to his first-wife Emily this whole time scandalizes the situation and Kane – a front page news-worthy affair that tempers our see-sawing opinion of him, and one his election opponent fully capitalizes on: J.W. Gettys. The backroom dealings of politicians here against shifts to noir aesthetics – the darkness, crime, corruption, and grime being the antithesization of its light and airy romance, replacing the milky and dreamlike filters of Suzie and Kane’s piano conversations with heavy chiaroscuro and shadows near-fully obscuring the faces of all involved in this coup of blackmail. Gettys is humanized beyond being just a villain like any other film would: he brings up the public humiliation he’s suffered at the hands of Kane by his trump-card of wielding public opinion through the news and dragging his family’s names through the mud. Given an ultimatum of dropping out of the race or being subject to the same humiliation in the news: the dynamic being even more perfect by the fact Kane runs as a Democrat preaching family/moral values while embroiled in lurid adultery, Kane stiffens up and you can feel the stringent pain of every word he struggles to get past the precipice of his lips. A masterclass in physicality acting, Welles captures the power of the scene’s reversion of fortune: powerlessness and the hot grips of panic/fear he hasn’t felt so potently since the snowy day he lost everything back in Colorado, refusing to bow out of the race and let anyone ‘take the love of the people of this state away from me’. Even in the face of a predestined end of tragedy, Kane puts himself ahead of those he claims to love dearest – regardless of consideration of the effects such a headline would have on his son’s, marriage’s, and Suzie’s reputations. The ironic twist of it being the news that kills CFK is brilliant screenwriting by Mankiewicz and O.W.: destruction by Kane’s own device also further highlighting the exploitability of news and journalism being used as a weapon for personal gain/agendas by both himself and Gettys.

XVIII. Destruction By His Own Device

The Cruelty Of Fate Twisting His Own Medium & Platform Against Him, Kane’s Political Career, Marriage, & Family Die By The [Weaponizable] Power Of The News

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The choice between two vastly-different headlines at The Inquirer evokes more sardonic black comedy – baseless claims of ‘Fraud At Polls!’ being the only way Kane could’ve lost according to the newspaper whom, like its patriarch, refuses to accept a reality in which he loses. This moment is of special historical significance, because it has been directly applicable on the biggest stage of world politics nearly a century later to join an esteemed collection of single-digit films to ever be able to prognosticize like this. The 2020 Presidential Election saw incumbent Donald J. Trump [who is extremely like Charles Foster Kane: a celebrity-businessman with superiority-complex, masculine insecurities, silver-spoon upbringing, and multiple divorces who leapt to the political stage; Twitter being a modernized version of The Inquirer] lose to Joe Biden in a fair election verified by the FBI as ‘the most secure one in the nation’s history’ – but that didn’t stop Trump from smear-campaigning the entire process of electoral democracy by claiming, exactly the same as Kane predicted, as a politician that there was ‘Fraud At The Polls’. A post-op confrontation with Leland, as the newspaper headline is seen on the ground being stepped-over like trash: perhaps commentary on news headlines fading into oblivion/irrelevance after a brief fifteen minutes of spotlight or to link it to garbage, brings more important hard truths to Kane by the filter-removal of booze & inebriation. Leland tells CFK he ‘talks about the people as if he owns them’, ‘talks about the working man but won’t like it once the working man learns things are his rights and not Kane’s gifts‘, and that ‘when he does, Kane would go to a deserted island so he could be lord of the monkeys’. Themes of emancipation, Marxism, freedom, rights, and possessiveness of politicians/news-magnates are deconstructed surgically by the conversation: Kane acts like he cares about people, but only cares about himself – convincing the public he loves them, so they ought to love him back, love on his own terms, according to his rules. Having lost both his best friend and [ex]-wife, the film transitions from one headline to another – from divorce to marriage, again mocking the news’ futility and exploitability by the rich-and-famous & a Kane always having to be in control of the story, flipping the headline from negative to positive to escape humiliation.

P2. Legacy [Cont.]

No Film Since Has Changed Everything The Way Citizen Kane Did: A Bloom-Evolution Of Movies’ Dreams, Techniques, Worldview, Etc. Needing Thanks By Today’s Landscape

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The landscape of movies today – from the galactic space-depths of 2001: A Space Odyssey to mafioso famiglia of The Godfather to noir-romance of Casablanca to CBM vigilantism of The Dark Knight to meta-slasherisms of Rear Window to spaghetti-western desert glory of The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly simply would have never been born or plausible without Citizen Kane proving movies could be that – and that alone signifies its impossible legacy and importance, second-to-none. The official polls and honors the film has received throughout the cinematic industry aptly-recognize and celebrate the masterpiece. Citizen Kane has been voted the #1 [or one of the top] film ever made by publications and platforms spanning The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, TIME, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, Cinema Lovers Club, etc. Beyond that, it’s also been so by a list of prestigious and endless filmmakers: Woody Allen, Michael Apted, Les Blank, Kenneth Branagh, Paul Greengrass, Michel Hazanavicius, Michale Mann, Sam Mendes, Jīrī Menzel, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, Denys Arcand, Gilian Armstrong, John Boorman, Roger Corman, Alex Cox, Miloš Forman, Norman Jewison, Richard Lester, Richard Linklater, Paul Mazursky, Ronald Neame, Sydney Pollack, Yasujiô Ozy, Fracois Truffant, The Coen Brothers, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, Ridley Scott, Sergio Leone, Francis Ford Coppola, and Stanley Kubbrick – to name a few. Conclusively the most ~universally-respected/consecrated film ever made by critics, directors, and everyone whom has devoted their lives to cinema, it’s the ‘official answer’ as Roger Ebert joked to the biggest question of filmic legacy and one that could drive analysts mad in debates – if there wasn’t such a clear solution of Godlike omnipotence. ‘Favorite Movie Ever’ yields contrastive results depending on a range of psychological, sociological, and life experiences, but everyone knows how to answer the postulate of ‘Greatest Movie Ever Made’.

XIX. ‘You Talk Ab. Pple Like You Own Them’

Themes Of Emancipation, Marxism, Rights, Freedom, Delusion, And Possessiveness Of Politicians/Newspapers With Real-Life Implications On The World’s Biggest Stage

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The remarriage begins in bliss and celebration of money, as can be seen by the two’s ostensible happiness leaving that courthouse: Suzie bragging about Kane building her an operahouse. This brings up the fixlike high of the drug of money, and dynamic of gold-digging, at first – ones that wear off in novelty with the years, leaving only regret, resentment, and loneliness instead of a companion to truly confide in and share life with. The new Mrs. Kane hesitates when Kane tells reporters she’ll be singing opera there, further exemplification that the opera career was more important to CFK [since it was important to her mother] than her and commentative on the meaninglessness facade of money in the fact that share brags about the operahouse, not the opera. A chef d’oeuvre achievement, Citizen Kane being a film with its own opera is absolutely insane. A reinterpretation of Rossini’s ‘Il Barbiere Di Siviglia’ hand-written by Mankiewicz and Welles, the aria can reveal hidden meanings allegorically representative of Mr. and Mrs. Kane’s relationship by its thematic evocation of the gods to strike down the singer [Suzie] and end her suffering of public humiliation through opera singing she didn’t even want to do, but was forced to by CFK. The opening shot of the opera arc is a frame of SAK singing with tears in her eyes and her lips almost curling into a scream – furthering the horror-like nightmare of how she views the act as a chaos-swirl of people around in costume, make-up, and set design camera-pans up to the rafters and even a janitorial staff laughing at her. The dynamic is fascinating: Kane can’t be oblivious to the fact his wife’s being laughed at by the world, but perhaps ignores or even wants it by the fact she gets to experience his pain and he gets to be in the audience instead of butt-of-the-joke – a sad desperation to be part of a crowd, even if it means laughing at your own wife. This is all within the guise or perhaps realism of still loving her: the most complex romance in the history of cinema it’s a PhD topic in itself to fully understand. Kane walks in on The Inquirer’s newspaper staff discussing in secretive hushes every aspect of the newspaper’s covering of the opera: floating puff-piece editorials to try to put lipstick on a pig and even further highlight the ghastly corruption of the news. What happened to the promise to ‘always speak only the truth’ these same people made back in the Declaration Of Principles; does that only apply when it’s not something of personal importance to them – morality and journalistic integrity only when convenient?

XX. A Film With Its Own Opera

Creation Of An Aria Reinterpreting Rossini’s ‘Il Barbiere Di Siviglia’ Upside-Down, Suzie Is Forced Into Opera Career Of Humiliation & Hidden Allegory: Praying Gods To Kill Her

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Leland is the one staff-member to hold out on Kane’s personally-okayed destruction of news integrity – the most important one relative to this piece being the drama-critic and further cycling the deterioration of once-best friends into enemies for maximum entertainment value. He writes a scathing review of bite and savagery – punishing the contrastive, conflicting emotions he must feel by blackout-drinking. Kane gets a hold of his unfinished byline and – shockingly – decides to finish it for him in the castigatory, excoriative view he intended before firing Leland. As if the multiple character-dynamics weren’t already complex enough, Kane seemingly agrees with Leland but fires him for speaking their truths – and finishes a negative review of his wife’s work by his forcisure to sing in the first place, further meriting the idea he knows Suzie is bad and secretly resents her or himself for the situation, but continues on perhaps-freed by the anonymity of a pseudonym withhout risk of losing his wife. Beyond writing it, he decides to even publish the review in his own newspaper – a question that still mystifies us to this day: why publish it unless their relationship really is that dichotomized and love/hate or masochistic. Leland posits Kane finished that review to try to prove he was an honest man: always trying to prove something to someone, and that it was the one thing he ever finished in life. There’s a hint of tragedy in the revelation CFK invited Leland to Xanadu to likely apologize and try to salvage his one true friendship, only for Leland to ignore him, rejecting a man who’s been nothing-but-rejected his whole life. The frame then shifts to the faux-world Kane constructs for himself and Suzie when their real one is crashing down on them from every angle: Xanadu – one CFK could rule in absolute monarchy and make his own rules for. Returning to El Rancho, we see a sobering Suzie – perhaps freed by the ability to tell finally tell the full story and get closure on her conflicting emotions about Kane as the weather and score lightens and clears in parallel. She posits she never asked for anything – flipping the remote possibility of gold-digging and spiraling it into the tragedy of Kane trying to use his money to buy love & force transactional companionship like it’s as simple as buying a statue.

XXI. The Only God Listening

The Fist Of Old-Testament Biblicisms, CFK Turns A Blind Eye To Pain By Own Design: Even Publishing Bad Reviews By Pseudonym, A Web Of Complex, Exegetical Relationships

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

We’re flies on the wall of one of Suzie’s [brutal] music-lessons – the opera-instructor berating her with stroke-like bemoanment of her off-pitch false expressionisms before finally quitting: ‘some people can sing, and some cannot’. Kane overhears and again flexes his power and corruption – threatening to slander him and ruin his career to put the puppet back into place. The refusal to listen to opinions other than his own [even going so far as to stifle them] has further-developed the nightmare fascist reversion of everything he once was and the news is supposed to be: Charles Foster Kane is now the antithesis of news/journalism, while its biggest name and patriarch. Pure masterpiece screenwriting and the greatest character development of all-time. The characterization of Suzie is also complex and perplexing – making us feel sorry for her being a glorified pet and pawn dancing public and private eyes for her ‘owner’, jealous/envious of her lifestyle of limitless wealth, and confused by her rejection of the easy solution to just leave Kane if she doesn’t love him or how he treats her [symbolizing, again, Da Vincian-complexity and ambiguity to what their relationship is]. The cinematography here is the film’s best: presenting us the same scene of her getting ready for her opera performance 2x in opposite views: front-and-back, and delivering what’s quite likely the greatest [or easily a Top 5-10] shot in the history of cinema in the one of Kane watching a flailing Suzie singing her heart out from above like a dark God gaining amusement from her turmoil. People around him in the box-office laugh as he goes silent and into his own world as the aria ends – where doe he go? [Perhaps to Rosebud for comfort and security in the face of public humilation?] Scattered applause begins around him, and he finally snaps back to reality a few seconds later, applauding triumphantly. We see ‘Leland’s’ negative review on the front page of The Inquirer to the rightful scorn of Suzie and a disinterested Kane conflicting his love from the previous scene with indifference/hatred. Leland, forever the voice of reason and refreshing realism-grounder across the film, gets the ultimate revenge on CFK by mail-delivery of his ripped-up severance paycheck alongside a copy of The Declaration Of Principles back from the very beginning: a knife in the heart of Kane itemizing his fall from grace, unflinchingly.

XXII. The Puzzle

The Film Ends In Xanadu – Large, Empty Gothic Halls & 50,000 Acres Kane & Suzie Are Together-But-Alone In, Trying To Piece Together CFK’s Literal & Metaporical Puzzles

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The rage prompts a dark side of Kane unlike we’ve previously seen: standing over a nasily-nagging Suzie begging out of hateful rhetoric for him to leave her alone like she’s his pet and abusively telling her she will continue singing. The cycle of pain and embarrassment continues, reaching a climax of the darkest possible action in life: Suzie attempting to commit suicide. The act is the thunderstrike enough to finally get Kane to listen to her pleas to stop singing – her comment of Charlie ‘not knowing the feeling of everyone in the audience not wanting you’ even more tragic by the fact that is the exact [only] feeling CFK has felt his whole life of rejection from that snowy day in Colorado, one that brings the two together in their experience. Kane asserts ‘you have to fight them’, while Suzie wants to give into them – a dichotomization of their reactions to rejection of grand importance as he finally, under the gravest of circumstances and prospect of losing the last thing he has, agrees to let her to stop singing. The film ends in Xanadu: the large, lonely, forlorn palace again darkened and contrasted as it was looking in the tragic beginning death-scene – foreshadowing the end. Suzie works on a jigsaw puzzle: a detail so simple and ostensibly-benign, it would be glossed over by most audiences and ignored by most films but is one loaded [again, as every detail in Citizen Kane is] with hidden meaning and allegorical potency. Kane as a man, their entire relationship, meaning of Rosebud, and palace of Xanadu are puzzles we’re all trying to piece together throughout the entire film – ones Suzie exemplifies on-screen in both physical and metaphorical jigsaws doubling as a boredom-cure. The two ant-sized figures [made to look even smaller by the zoomed-out camerawork and echo VFX as epic as the Grand Canyon] highlight how alone the two are, even in the same room of Xanadu. Again indicating unhappiness she bizarrely doesn’t capitalize on, Suzie asks what time it is in NYC – 11:30PM meaning people are getting into restaurants and nightclubs, while they’re stuck there alone on a terrestrial island of 50,000+ acres of nothing but scenery and statues. Suzie might’ve lost her reputation because of Kane, but Kane did likewise backing Suzie – the rest of the world eventually seeing past the thinly-veiled corruption and moralistic destruction, leaving two people perfectly-alone in each other.

XXIII. The Final Rejection

A Domestic Nightmare From Marriage Bliss, Suzie Leaves – The Beginning & End Of Kane’s Story Mirroring & Fracturing Psyche; We Finally Learn The Meaning Of Rosebud

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The palace and grandeur of Xanadu is insane: a fireplace so large, a full-grown man like CFK can walk under its lip to establish scale, furthered by the grand hallways and luxury on the fringes of our view. There are statues in the periphery of every frame watching over the film’s events, giving a pseudo-horror feel by their eerie silence fusing brilliant metaphorization once again in the littlest of details. Statues are humanistic and lifelike by design, just enough to look-and-feel like real people from afar but lacking the soul and life behind the eyes of marble and stone. The statues exemplify Kane’s twisted outview on people and delusions of companionship: wanting not to be alone with nothing but his memories and sadness, but scared and ignorant of how to love – settling for fabrications of people that won’t talk back to him, but also can’t leave/reject him. The psychoanalytical themes transition to money, Suzie claiming Kane never gives her anything ‘she really wants’ or ‘that mean anything to her’ – positing that life’s free joys like having fun in NYC and learning more about him are what she really wants, not the meaningless objects he gives to her not out of love, but power/control exploiting mankind’s hard-wiring to be thankful for gifts and want money. Kane loses it, physically-striking her – telling him ‘don’t tell me you’re sorry’ and him admitting he’s not as the marriage bliss has finally devolved into an inexorably-dark nightmare of domestic life. On the revelation to him the next day that Suzie’s packing her bags, his first instinct is to question why she’d do so when they have guests: black-comedically always looking after himself and not wanting people to gossip, even in the face of certain divorce. She is about to walk out the door when CFK begs like a child, stiffening up as he did back on the snow day and Gettys-blackmail – powerless as he makes one honest, sincere, genuine attempt to reason and promise her he’ll change. Going fine and working by the expressions on Suzie’s face, he ends it with a line of major importance: ‘you can’t do this to me’. Revealing his cards after the world’s biggest poker-face, the first moment of genuine humanity we see from a post-20’s Kane is all a lie: inability to contextualize others’ experiences, clinging to the notion the universe truly revolves around him like a single-child mentality he was both-deprived of by his real parents and given by his makeshift one: money. ‘Oh, yes i can!’ says a Suzie who reverse the dynamic and leaves Kane powerless where she one was to beautifully end her arc.

Q. The CLC Explanation: Rosebud

‘One Word Can’t Explain A Man’s Life’ Says J.T. Never Solving Rosebud; Only This Word Can: The Objectification Of CFK’s Happiest Childhood Moment On That Snowy Day In Colorado; The Apex Before His Life Changed

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Back in modern day, one line of dialogue shocks in its spoken word: ‘you’ll want to talk to Raymond, he knows where all the bodies are buried’ – signifying Kane murdered people and hid their bodies on Xanadu’s grounds, far from that kid in Colorado. All the same, Thompson says he feels sorry for Kane and she agrees. Ending on Kane, the presence of bags-packed and act of leaving home symbolizes both the beginning and end of CFK’s story, flipped in prerogative but equally-tragic. Thompson finally asks Mr. Kane’s staff about Rosebud, one of them [with the classically-noir comedic language of a $1,000 bribe in the shadows] remembering ‘he would act weird sometimes’ like the day Suzie left him. The fit of rage Charles goes into feels ~childlike; a grown-man temper-tantrum resorting to physical violence and destruction of his own artifact that works thematically as well. The filter-removal of tragedy shows how little he thinks of priceless material possessions like vases and objects, destroying them without a second’s hesitation. It also reverts him back to childhood-trauma metaphorically in parallel to his physical hysterics – as symbolized by the hemorrhage concluding the second he comes across a snowglobe and sibilates ‘Rosebud’ in a hypnotic, catatonic-trance with tears in his eyes [a masterclass of acting]. A zombie-like somnambulation through Xanadu, he walks past halls of endlessmirrors that fracture his reflection a million times like his psyche is symbolically as he clutches that same snowglobe we saw in the beginning scene of the film past legions of concerned housekeepers. The staff still doesn’t know what it means, and Thompson gives up the investigation – reassuring himself one word can’t mean that much as the film ends with burning possessions centered by the big reveal of Rosebud: CFK’s sled from back when he was a child in Colorado. The smoke returns to the sky in a crescendoing score and elongation of the shot back to ‘No Trespassing’ sign and Xanadu in the distance we began the film – this time with clear skies symbolizing our newfound clarity of understanding who Kane is, a masterstroke ending of plot structure. Thompson claims ‘one word can’t explain a man’s life‘. Only, this word can.

R. The CLC Explanation: Rosebud

Before CFK Lost Anything, One Perfect Day Of Childlike Play & Love Before The Shackles Of Money And Rejection Latched Onto Soul: A Warm Blanket Memory Of Escapism In Cold Psychological Temperatures; Gulf Coast

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The metaphorization of his first loss and happiest moment of childhood innocence/freedom before his life changed forever: Rosebud is the title of a singular object – and so much more. The CLC explanation: Rosebud symbolizes the apex of CFK’s life; it’s the happiest memory of his childhood, playing carefree in the snowy innocence of that one perfect day in Colorado with his family close by – before Walter P. Thatcher took control of his guardianship. It’s the closest Kane ever felt to being a normal kid with a normal family, before he lost anything and money/fame catalyzed a neverending cascade of despair/loss throughout his life afterwards. Think of it as a proto-safe space and blanket: a memory that keeps him warm in the frigid metaphorical temperatures of his life’s greatest tragedies [ironically, frozen in the warm, antithetical beach-fringed paradise of Florida’s gulf coast]. Even the name and iconography of the word evokes feelings of gentility, innocence, beauty, regeneration, and nature: freshly-budding roses in the springtime being timeless earthly symbols of the above, even more brilliantly being suppressed in seasons by the snowy day Thatcher interrupted before it was able to change anew. It’s his last moment of freedom, happiness, identity, and control over his life story – before the shackles of money, power, and their psychological deleterions were latched onto his soul and a memory he prefers to escape into. The irony, though, is that – psychologically – he never left it, childhood traumatization experiences like that developmentally-stunting people for life so that they relive it over-and-over again. Kane forever-chases goals throughout the film’s events as a man that have roots in childhood: seeking out friends and the love he never got to experience growing up, learning how to do both, and proving to the world he was valuable in stark juxtaposition to how he internalized the experience of that day’s abandonment in his mind [without knowledge of his parents’ complex, multi-reflexive reasoning/~justifications for the action].

S. The CLC Explanation: Rosebud

Eschewal Of Money Still-Objectified By Its Influence, CFK’s Only Friend, & Pure Natural Iconography – Rebirth, Beauty, Gentility, Innocence, & Freshly-Budding Roses In The Spring That Snowy Day’s Ending Prevented

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Charles Foster Kane reacts to moments that evoke its feelings of powerlessness, rejection, loss, and humiliation by stiffening up and going catatonic – his mind taking control and always taking him back to that one day; the dichotomization of emotions, good and bad. The symbolism of Rosebud also being the name of CFK’s sled works on multiple levels: a rejection of money tragically still objectified into a material object by its inescapable of influence, physical/metaphorical forcefield against the world of capitalism personified by Thatcher by the fact young Charles thrashed him with it the first time he met him, and how tragically warped Kane’s psychology has become that he views an inanimate object as his only friend. It could’ve just as easily been called its date, ‘snowy day’, or ‘that day in Colorado’ and retained the same meaning – but its purposeful materialization highlights the importance of money’s grasp on CFK’s life and psychology, which he later used to try to transactionalize the love he was deprived of that day and fund his Godlike dreams born of childlike simplicity on the biggest world stages like politics and Xanadu. Rosebud works as a rebuke of The American Dream. Charles Foster Kane is rich, powerful, and famous – hitting every criterion of how society and civilization [classically] defines success and our greatest aspirations; a life worth lived. The film builds up this monument to its chief protagonist, built of the finest materials money can buy: bronze, gold, and marble and by our own rules of what we think we want in life, only for Rosebud to take a sledgehammer to crash it down. We feel sorry for him in the finale; a reversal of the wishful dynamic we all felt of wanting to be like CFK back in the News On The March sequence to pity, condolence, and mercy as we figure out he’s just as flawed and unhappy as the rest of us – perhaps even more so by the dirty tricks these monkey paw vices played on him by the futility of their pursuits and poison.

XXIV. We All Have Our Own Rosebud

The Final Shot Of Endless Boxes: Billions Of Dollars Of Possessions Meaning Nothing Over The $10 Sled & Memory, Labyrinth Of CFK’s Mind, & All Rosebuds In The World; Us All Having A Da-Vincian Crux To Ourselves

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

The revelation flips our preconceptions with the zen enlightenment of simplistic natural pleasures being the true yellow brick road to happiness – something as primal as a child playing in the snow brought a man more happiness than everything money could buy. The cinematic brilliance of Rosebud goes beyond its significance in deciphering the puzzle of Charles Foster Kane; it’s a skeleton key we can all find in ourselves. This is ocularly metaphorized by one of the film’s final shots: the room of endless boxes [above]. A strikingly-powerful zoom-out, the frame’s symbolism and scale exhibit hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars of objects on-screen meaning nothing to CFK beyond the $10 sled & memory from his childhood, share mimetics to the gyrification/sulci of the human brain to paint the labyrinthian mazes of our psychology, and can be interpretive of how universal the phenomenon is across mankind. We all have a Rosebud; it’s our deepest, darkest secret we keep in the coldest and most off-limits grounds of our minds [what the ‘No Trespassing’ signs at Xanadu at the beginning/end of the film symbolize]; it’s our happiest moment and one that provides us solace in life’s biggest tragedies; it’s our idealized notion of self; it’s the key to unlocking who we are as a person; it’s the enlightenment we all seek by its truth clarifying the mysteries of life and revealing what brings us individual happiness. Rosebud is, quite simply, who we are at a level only God or the entity of our creation would understand – one we get a first-class experience of the heavens through in this masterpiece of film.

XXV: The Greatest Film Of All-Time?

The Beginning Question Again: Does Kane Live Up Its Status As The God Of Cinema ~100 Years Later? The World’s Most Complex, Layered, Technical, Beautiful Film

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Knowing all we do now, it’s time to return to the biggest and most important question in the history of film we asked in the beginning: Is Citizen Kane The Greatest Movie Ever made? Charles Foster Kane had everything in the world, except the one thing he wanted most – something all his money, power, and fame couldn’t buy and the rest of us take for granted. The young, principled idealization of his younger self became everything he hated and promised he wouldn’t be in this Greek-operatic tragedy: “a man outliving his power to make history, becoming lost to it himself – alone in his never-finished, already-decaying pleasure palace: an emperor of newsprint vainly attempting to sway [as he once did] the destinies of a nation who had ceased to listen/trust him.” The mysteries of life are everpresent, weaved throughout this masterpiece canvas of film in performances, cinematography, score, direction, screenwriting, prod/set-design, costumes, make-up/VFX, editing, and everything in between by a cast of youth-fueled underdogs with a chip on their shoulder and a lot to prove. The film changed everything in cinema – proving it was just as much an artform as painting, music, and literature while showing it can be the best of all three together, pulverizing the status-quo of lowbrow entertainment to challenge the audiences and filmmakers to elevate their craft, and paving the way for the impossible diversification of films we have today by its David-and-Goliath win for artistic freedom over the trench warfare of the rich and powerful it used as inspiration wielding an army against it. There is so much complexity, craftsmanship, depth, and multi-interpretability, it can and will be analyzed and re-analyzed for millennia to come, and we’re honored to have been able to provide some of the most layered PhD level analysis on the subject of our favorite film. The answer to the question, even ~100 years later & a multiverse of 500,000+ films, is still: Yes.

Conclusion

The Greatest Film Of All-Time

A New-Age Opera, Political-Drama, Black Comedy, Mystery-Noir, Satirization, Romance, & Biographical/Psychological Pièta – A Complex, Avant-Garde Metaphor Of Power, Love, Money, News, & Tragedy

Photograph Courtesy Of: RKO Pictures

Overall, Citizen Kane is the Greatest Film Of All-Time. Never before has there been – and, likely, never will again be – a film as complex, layered, diverse, avant-garde, and impossible to achieve. A new-age opera, political-drama, black comedy, mystery-noir, satirization, romance, & biographical/psychological-pièta, the film wields antithetical genres most can barely accomplish one of – executing them perfectly with the touch of a master-craftsman doubling as a jack-of-all-trades. The Messianic feat that gives us the experience of God being able to watch a person’s entire life unfold and change before our very eyes omniscience perspective was achieved by a 24 year-old; together with its cast of Italian Neorealisme-evocative newcomers and underdogs rejected by the world of Hollywood, it personified the pioneer spirit of The American Dream while redefining movies altogether. The film is a neo-Mona Lisa portraiture with the score of a Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and literature of The Great Gatsby – single-handedly evolving cinema as an artform & proving its merit as the ultimate one by combining those of painting, music, and literature into one experience. Citizen Kane challenged audiences and studios to revolutionize their previously-complacent and low-achieving craft – the multiverse of 500,000+ films in 120+ genres ~100 years later owes its existence and diversification to the bloom-evolution it catalyzed. Doing so with plenty of style, the film is a veritable encyclopedia of techniques: the ultimate textbook film from deep-focus cinematography to chiaroscuro lighting to ceiling/low shot considerations to temporal jump-cuts to flashback-dominant storytelling rejecting linear/chronological narratives to omniscient perspective to cigarette burns to overlapping montages to panchromatic film to newsreel footage, etc. Themes of religion, news, greed, politics, love, tragedy, psychology, Marxism, emancipation, freedom, trauma, parenthood, abandonment, self-worth, fate, emotion, and the mysteries of life bleed through every frame – the ultimate exposition of the human experience and one just as powerful and universal a century later as it was on its NYC premiere date, and will be 1,000 years from now onward. Big, dangerous game the likes of which never before saw a challenger was hunted by the film’s patriarchs – one of the richest and most powerful men of all-time: William Randolph Hearst, whom flexed his empire and army of resources to prevent the film from ever seeing the light of day and was defeated a Goliath by David in the biggest win for artistic freedom of all-time. The film’s portraiture of him and his kind through Charles Foster Kane is the magic of movies and hand of God before our very eyes: a canvas of perfection in performances, cinematography, score, direction, screenwriting, prod/set-design, costumes, make-up/VFX, and editing painting a man’s entire life story in only two hours before surgically-deconstructing it down to a single word. Charles Foster Kane had everything in the world and everything civilizational constructs convince us to aspire to, but wanted nothing more to be a citizen like the rest of us and secure the the one thing he wanted most – what all his money, power, and fame couldn’t buy and the rest of us take for granted: love. The young, principled idealization of his younger self became everything he hated and promised he would never be: ‘a man outliving his power to make history, becoming lost to it himself – alone in his never-finished, already-decaying palace: an emperor of newsprint vainly attempting to sway [as he once did] the destinies of a nation who had ceased to listen/trust him.’ Rosebud is more than just his childhood sled; it’s his life’s happiest memory, final moment of [flower-iconographical] innocence, deepest-and-darkest secret, warm blanket in cold psychological temperatures he can’t escape even on the Gulf Coast of Florida, life’s guiding principle, only friend, and key to unlocking the puzzle of the man – and all of us. The Greatest Film Ever Made [& by a 24 year-old wünderkind], O.W.’s 1941 new-age opera, political-drama, black comedy, romance, satirization, & noir biographical/psychological-pièta changed the history of movies, catalyzing a cinematic bloom-evolution leading to the movie landscape we know today; a complex, layered, plot-eclectic, beautiful avant-garde metaphor of power, love, money, news, & tragedy.

Official CLC Score: 10/10