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Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Orson Welles


          Citizen Kane IMDb    Citizen Kane Wikipedia    Citizen Kane Soundtrack

Joseph Cotten as Jedediah Leland
Dorothy Comingore as Susan Alexander Kane
Agnes Moorehead as Mary Kane
Ruth Warrick as Emily Monroe Norton Kane
Ray Collins as James W. Gettys
Erskine Sanford as Herbert Carter
Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein
William Alland as Jerry Thompson
Paul Stewart as Raymond
George Coulouris as Walter Parks Thatcher
Fortunio Bonanova as Signor Matiste
Gus Schilling as The Headwaiter
Philip Van Zandt as Mr. Rawlston
Georgia Backus as Bertha Anderson
Citizen Kane Storyline: A group of reporters are trying to decipher the last word ever spoken by Charles Foster Kane, the millionaire newspaper tycoon: "Rosebud." The film begins with a news reel detailing Kane's life for the masses, and then from there, we are shown flashbacks from Kane's life. As the reporters investigate further, the viewers see a display of a fascinating man's rise to fame, and how he eventually fell off the top of the world.
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One of the Best
Ease the tension. Give it a 10-rating. I'm not sure if I could pick any movie and claim it was the Best Movie of All Time. That's a great deal of pressure. So I ignore such a label, and I watch the film.

"Citizen Kane" is powerful, but it's so well constructed as to give you multiple impressions of Kane that it's hard to realize how emotionally charged this movie is. I love it for lines such as Kane's explanation of what he would've been if he hadn't have been rich: "Everything you hate," he says. And I love the movie because of Welles's voice. You could look at this movie a hundred different ways, and the details would still remain to support you.

It's perhaps one of the most intricately-constructed films I've ever seen, and the honesty in the film is magnificent. This movie does make me sad, because among other questions, it asks this: "If you're remembered after you die for what you did, what you will it be?" And, to me, that's a very sad question to want to ask. A feeling that there is no absolute understanding between people. That it's all skewed by our own personalities. That who you are depends on the paper you chose to read.

How could anyone not think this movie is great? Best film of all time, whatever. The movie is brilliant, one way or another.
surprised and disappointed
If you consider just the content, then all this movie does is make the following point: Charles Foster Kane wanted to be big and important to all American people, however he had nothing to give, he just had a lot of money. I should rather say that the movie hammers this point home, since the above point is stated explicitly by Kane's best friend and by his second wife (and probably one other person, I didn't want to take the time to check). Just in case you wouldn't get the message.

This movie is in my opinion crude and simplistic. We are dragged through the life of Kane at high speed. The movie doesn't flow naturally, there is no real development. It feels like nothing happens, you just get a single idea pushed down your throat. Throughout the movie there is the same atmosphere of doom and of emptiness. Even as a young man Kane is not an idealist. None of the characters is given any depth, there is no one you can identify yourself with or sympathise with.

The only quality of the movie lies in the camera work, the tricks with the lighting and the music. This should make it interesting for movie directors and people interested in the technical side of film making. I suppose it's is interesting to see how Welles manages to create a certain atmosphere in this way, but since it is always the same atmosphere, this is in my opinion rather limited.

I cannot possibly understand why this is considered the best movie ever made. The only (unsatisfactory) possible explanation I could come up with was: a) The average person is far more visual than me, or easier satisfied with single impressions, b) People like to parrot the "experts".
An example of excellent visual storytelling
Mysterious - art house classic. The idea of Citizen Kane is interesting in itself, but the presentation exceeds the idea. Citizen Kane perfectly presents flashbacks, witnessing Charles Foster Kane's childhood, his rise and fall from power, the more time passes through the film,the more depth is added, a circular structure. Citizen Kane is surrounded by a cloud of mystery, the mystery seemingly building up to something great. Citizen Kane is mostly told visually, doing so, better than words ever could. Citizen Kane is a rich experience, and all its detail adds up to what Welles is succeeding in telling you about themes of the movie: power, human frailty, the circumstances that make a mere man into something bigger, the men who shapes their own times, and the problems that men like this will have in life as they interact with normal mortals.

Visually impressive, still to this day. It has plenty of exceedingly long takes, making it much more immersive. Citizen Kane was innovative, such as, it didn't go in for close ups on characters' faces to show emotion, Orson Welles allows the audience to choose what they want to watch within the frame. With this kind of filmmaking, it's very clear what the characters are thinking and feeling as it's being shown right in front of you, doing so, Orson Welles chose to give the audience more freedom - he respected the audiences' intelligence. Citizen Kane is one of the most effective films when it comes to film studies, as it's pretty much an entire film studies course in the space of 2 hours. Citizen Kane has a lot of visual symbolism, much of its visual symbolism has been for me quite enjoyable analysing. It doesn't depend on the visual symbolism, rather its visual storytelling, every shot is filled with all these little meaningful stylistic touches that add to the story, ''telling more than a thousand words.''

Bernard Herrmann's score is in my opinion, not anything special, though it still fits the mystery and pace of Citizen Kane. Welles, himself, would often edit the film to fit the rhythm or length of Herrmann's compositions, which can be seen in such scenes as background music whilst Thompson reads the Thatcher papers is reminiscent of the slow unrelenting tick of a clock.

Orson Welles perfectly portrays and captures the spirit of Charles Foster Kane, as a young man, and he even delivers a convincing performance as an old empty man. The rest of the cast are passable, as there are no other stand out performances than Orson Welles' character, Kane.

Recommended for both film buffs and the mainstream movie goer, even people whom like classic theatre or great novels of high rank. The story's pace is pretty fast forward, though some scenes may feel slow compared to modern movies. Some may find it boring, a lot of mixed thoughts on it, from my friends, whom I've seen it with. I, myself love this movie, it has this mystery laying around it, where the end, at first viewing left me silent, thinking over it - I love such endings!
A great piece of cinema, a magnificent example of storytelling
I've heard so much told about Citizen Kane and Orson Welles, so I finally decided to get the film, and find out if it really is all that it's cracked up to be... I must say, it's great. The plot is great, and the way it's told is amazing. The story is first summed up in a matter of minutes, about 15, to be more accurate, and then the rest of the film has characters telling the story through flashbacks and retelling. We hear just about every opinion about Charles Foster Kane, apart from his own. The story is told after his death, and we see everything important that leads up to it, and only in the very end do we understand him, only then do we fully understand who he was, and what made him so. The ending also reveals one of the very most important things in any man or woman... one thing that everyone needs and knows of. I won't reveal it here, as it would almost be a crime to spoil the experience of this film to anyone. The acting is excellent; Welles himself is stellar as Kane, and his impressive appearance, along with his commanding voice, makes the character a forceful sight, nay, experience. The characters are well-written and credible. The character of Kane is probably the most well-rounded and perfectly built up I've seen in a movie, ever. The cinematography is excellent... the editing is great. I can't praise the angles, pans, zooms and transitions enough... it just has to be experienced. Now, for the one thing I can criticize in the film; the pacing. It's only two hours long, but it feels like much, much more. There were portions of the film where it felt like it didn't move at all. When there weren't great dialog or something equally as good in the film, it dragged terribly. There were too many scenes where the dialog seemed pointless, as well, I think. It didn't seem to be leading to anything. However, this criticism is so minor, due to the ending more than making up for it, that I still give this film a perfect score. I can't do anything but agree with its placing at the top of the top #250 films of all time, here on IMDb. As I'm writing this, it's #11. That's pretty much what it deserves, in my opinion. Not higher, not lower. Not the greatest film of all time(that pretty much still belongs to The Godfather, I think... at least, I haven't seen a better film than that, yet), but definitely far up there. I recommend this to any fan of film in general, and anyone who thinks they can understand it; it has a truly profound point that any man(and woman) should know of(preferably through seeing the film for themselves). Don't let the fact that it's old and black & white deter you from seeing this masterpiece. A true cinematic masterpiece, in every sense of the word. 10/10
A Helluva Sleigh Ride
They say that the Bush-Kerry race is full of negative campaigning, but neither candidate has yet gone so far as to pledge that, when elected, his first act will be to see to the "indictment, prosecution, and conviction" of his opponent. Charley Kane does, though, so much for political civility, not to mention guaranteeing a fair trial.

Re-watching "Citizen Kane" at any one time is to discover it anew. There are a lot of great films, great because of the way they advanced the art of film, which don't burn their way into your brain and heart the way "Kane" does, finding new ways to amaze every time you watch it. The wonder of "Kane" 63 years later is not only its greatness, but how much doggone fun it is.

Orson Welles made a film so electric, so outrageous, so simultaneously joyous and sad, it's a wonder it did as well as it did, getting nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and winning the prize for best screenplay. So ahead of its time in so many ways, it's a wonder too RKO ever released the thing, even without significant pressure from William Randolph Hearst to destroy the movie because he believed, not completely correctly, that it was all a big dig at him.

"Kane" manages to be entertaining from first to last. Its quick cuts and clever transitions have only benefited from the MTV generation like few films of its time, yet it also retains a certain classic Hollywood grandeur, in its gaslit sets, black-and-white compositions, Joseph Cotten's marcelled hair, and the endlessly quotable dialogue.

And it's often hilarious, too. Sometimes in very overt, slapstick ways, like Signore Matiste's music lessons to the impossibly amateurish Susan Alexander Kane. Sometimes in cleverly sardonic ways, like when we see Bernstein examining the alternative headlines the morning after Kane's unsuccessful gubernatorial bid. There's more subtle jests, some which require multiple viewings. I just caught one, where Kane first makes the acquaintance of Susan Alexander by taking her up on her offer of "hot water." She provides the hot water alright, as Boss Gettys makes sure.

Welles performs the rare trick of making intelligence fun, his own as well as the viewer's. It's a magic show that has lost none of its power all these decades later.

Welles was only 25 when he directed and starred in this, his first real film role, but he already made his mark on popular culture as something of a trickster in 1938, when he convinced millions of radio listeners the Earth was under Martian attack in his adaptation of "The War Of The Worlds." "Kane" starts out with similar trickery, putting up a fake newsreel of the kind moviegoers were accustomed to seeing back then. Welles himself was quoted as saying the whole identity of "Rosebud" was a bit of a blind alley, "dime-store Freud" he called it, but the notion works, not only in setting up an air of mystery to the proceedings (shades of film noir, the genre that immediately succeeded Hollywood's Golden Age that concluded with "Kane") but asking a question that Welles' own life seems to beg in retrospect. When is greatness enough for its own sake, and when is it just a way people isolate themselves from the rest of humanity?

It's a shame that "Kane" didn't launch a series of Mercury Theatre productions, not just the truncated "Magnificent Ambersons" and the weird "Journey Into Fear" but a slew of other films, as Welles and his team once envisioned. It fed a bit of a myth, of Welles as an artistic martyr. Welles did suffer from his vision, but he also suffered from being Welles, impossible, petulant, and mercurial. "Kane" suffers a bit, too, seen too often as a start not followed through on by its prime creator than as a brilliant individual achievement that has fed so many other great minds since its release.

A couple of reviews down, someone calls this "another boring black and white film," and I almost peed in my pants. Not from anger, but laughter. People can think what they want about "Kane," and they will anyway, but as Matiste would say, "some people have it, and some don't." Give it a chance; you won't be sorry.
The Great Cinema Swindle
I know why you're reading this. You're smart, you have great taste, a passion for cinema, and you see CK near the top of every 'Great Movie' list ever compiled. So with great anticipation you borrow a DVD copy and sit down for a real treat, and... you can't get through the first half hour. You fall asleep.

Surprised, you think, 'It must be me, maybe I'm tired,' so a month later, you try again. But you don't even get as far as before, and wake up drooling out the corner of your mouth as a bloated Orson Welles, with really bad age make-up, groans 'Rosebud, Rosebud'.

It doesn't make sense. You're perplexed. You've watched other films on the lists... Casablanca made you stand up and cheer, cry, laugh, feel connected to all humanity. You even adore films on the list that some might consider oblique, like 8 1/2, which you reckon reinvented cinema language, weaving in and out of memory, dreams, psyche, reality, putting the human spirit up on the screen, making you cheer, laugh, and feel connected to all humanity.

So why does CK leave you so cold? You wonder, 'What's wrong with me? Am I stupid or something?'

Your borrowed DVD copy gathers dust (notice how the lender never asks for it back?), taunting your unquiet mind: "You must watch me: I'm the greatest film of all time!" But you shudder at the thought. Life's too short and, after all, there's more engaging things to do - like scraping plaque off the dog's teeth.

Years pass. Finally, you can take it no longer. You think, 'To be a serious film lover I MUST watch Citizen Kane! Maybe I was too immature before - yes, that must be it!' So you gird your loins and sit - awake! - through the whole thing. The whole turgid, ponderous, dull, vacuous, plodding, dank catastrophe. It's even worse than you feared. An emotionally and intellectually empty story. Your average six year old can invent a more complex, engaging tale.

Genuinely puzzled, you ask people who name it as one of the greatest films of all time why they like it, and with barely concealed superiority that phoneys are wont to adopt, they wax lyrical talk about the haunting mystery of the final words, "Rosebud, rosebud". You notice there's no feeling behind what they say. They also talk a great deal about Gregg Toland's cinematography, with liberal references to "deep focus", and you appreciate this, you really do, the cinematography was damned fine, best thing about the movie. That shot which started outside the window then tracked back into the room was really cool. But you just don't believe a movie is made great by cinematography alone.

In all your inquiries, you never once hear the following phrase, spoken from the heart: "God, I love that film".

So here you find yourself, reading IMDb comments.

Well, let me tell you this: There's Nothing Wrong With You! You Are Right! It's Overrated Flashy Unintelligent Rubbish!

One day, perhaps (one can but dream), the coolest, greatest, most admired film being in the world will point out the bleeding obvious nakedness of this bloated Emperor, and the assorted film critics, film studies teachers, and others who need to be told what to think by an authority figure, shall squirm, and CK shall drop off the lists once and for all.

Until that great day, don't be afraid to speak the truth.
About a boy
A word of warning: The following review and critique contains "spoilers" (dialog and plot-points which may - and in this instance - will give away scenes and surprises in the film), but it is unlikely that this will be the first time you have read or heard this information. After all, what can really be said or written about this film that hasn't be said or written before? Everyone who writes about film (from it's release in 1941, to me tonight, to someone else tomorrow) has written something either about or in reference to "Citizen Kane". It is a true classic. "Citizen Kane" is not only one of the most talked about films ever, it is also one of the most influential films ever. And, perhaps, singularly the best film American cinema has ever produced. Art is a very subjective thing, and this film is clearly filled with it. Only great art or great tragedy can produce such lengthy and long-term discussion. So what can be said that has not been said previously? Let me start by saying I did not like Charles Foster Kane, nor do I believe I was meant to. I do not take for granted that characters must be sympathetic. They do not. There is such a thing as the dark and mysterious (sometimes dangerous) character; someone who, simultaneously, will shock and infuriate us, yet from whom (for some reason) we can not turn away. In other words, it is possible to care about and become involved in the life stories of less than idyllic people. This is especially true with regards to Charles Foster Kane. Mr. Kane is a tyrant. He's as hated as he is feared. By the second act we see Kane as a hostile, detached and driven man. But time offers the unique gift of insight to those who are willing to wait for it. Something did not occur to me until recently (I did not see or hear it in any speech or interview, nor have I read of it in any of the too-numerous-to-count reviews, write-ups and critiques of the film): Charles Kane is not a man at all. He is still the same scared little boy taken away from his home and his family, lost in the wilderness, scarred for life and seemingly irreversible damaged. Now, I am positive that I am not the first to come to this conclusion (simply based on my personal knowledge that I am not that bright), but I am the first (that I know of) to write it down tonight. What do we see in the beginning of the picture (which we don't realize until the end)? The end of innocence. Lost youth. Separation. These are the things that plague Kane as an adult and shape the broken soul who tried to purchase virtue, marry youth and fight for any kind of connection throughout his "adult" life. He needed a connection. To anyone. Or anything. Do you remember in the beginning of "Citizen Kane" when he says "Rosebud" and then drops the snow globe? The butler tells the reporter at the end of the film that Mr. Kane said it twice. You only hear him say it once in the beginning. But at the end of the film, when he tears apart the room after his wife walks out, destroying practically everything, he picks up the snow globe, and is about to break it, but notices the sled encased in it. He is crying and says "Rosebud". He then walks past several employees, including the butler (who clearly heard him) and then lies down, says it again, drops the globe and dies. Here is my point: He is redeemed. Regret equals redemption. Kane regrets everything. Susan Alexander, this wife that left him (whom he left his first wife and son for); Kane met her while on the way to the warehouse that contained his youth (including his childhood sled "Rosebud" which was his last physical bit of material possession that held any connection to his long-deceased mother). He never made it to that warehouse (that night or any other) because he met Susan. Because of this he never regained, retained or made peace with that lost youth. So instead he tried to buy happiness and marry the youthful Ms. Alexander, in an attempt to hold onto some sort of ideological notion of what childhood could have been. Only after the second Mrs. Kane walks out, and he sees that sled in that snow globe, does he recall what he would have or could have been had he never accepted that "hot water" that Susan Alexander offered him on that sidewalk that first night they met. He becomes a man in that instant. Charles regrets everything. Then, he makes peace with everything by remembering everything. And he dies with redemption.
One of the great films, if not "the" greatest.

"Citizen Kane" is, without a doubt, one of the greatest American films ever made. Orson Welles was basically handed the keys to the city - he had everything he wanted and complete control over budget, actors, script, and more.

He plays Charles Foster Kane, who dies at the beginning of the film while uttering the immortal words "Rosebud." So the film starts off by searching for what "rosebud" really means. We see countless relations of Kane interviewed. None of them know what "rosebud" really means. But as the film goes on we see glimpses of Kane's life, and eventually the mystery unfolds itself.

Like Akira Kurosawa's "Ikiru," "Citizen Kane" is a glance at a man's life and what has driven him to bitterness. Kurosawa claims he never saw "Citizen Kane" before making his film, but nevertheless they form a nice back-to-back viewing.

"Citizen Kane" has, perhaps, some of the best makeup ever seen on film. A twenty-four-year-old Orson Welles is easily disguised as a sixty-something, overweight man. (And this was before he actually WAS overweight later in his life.)

I recently bought the Special Edition DVD with a commentary by Roger Ebert, who said in his commentary that there are probably more special effects in "Citizen Kane" than in the "Star Wars" films.Though subtle, I have to agree that there truly are many special effects used in the film. They're so flawless it's hard to even notice.

Another thing Ebert pointed out is how low the ceilings are, which creates a feeling of paranoia. All these things work on a subconscious level that you don't really pick up on the first time.

And if you want symbolism, this film is for you. As Kane hands over his empire in one scene, he walks over to a window, which to the naked eye looks normal-sized. But as Kane nears the window, guess what? Turns out the window is very, very high. It makes Kane look small. Think about it. He's handing over his empire and growing smaller in his wealth. It's all very symbolic.

I recommend picking up the DVD; it also contains a two-hour documentary called "The Battle Over Citizen Kane," plus many, many more tidbits, including the original theatrical trailer (which is very odd and original).

All in all, "Citizen Kane" is a classic of epic proportions. One of the very greatest American films out there.
it took years for its reputation to grow
The comment that began: It's a difficult undertaking for someone of my generation to watch a film like CITIZEN KANE. That statement could be made by anyone for the last 30-40 years. I came to it the exact same way, aware of its reputation. But I saw it at a revival theatre 37 years ago. I was 18 when the Godfather and Cabaret were Oscar noms. CK was a box office flop, the rep grew 15-20 years later by the French critics of the early 60s- THEY could have said the same thing: "It's a difficult undertaking for someone of my generation to watch a film like CITIZEN KANE." Instead as an older citizen I see more of a dismissive attitude twd b/w films by 'today's generation' which has little to do with the greatness of CK itself. Alas there is nothing more self limiting than being modern.
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