The things to be said are that it is the boldest free-hand stroke in major screen production since Griffith and Bitzer were running wild to unshackle the camera; that it has the excitement of all surprises without stirring emotions much more enduring; and that in the line of the narrative film, as developed in a countries but most highly on the West Coast of America, it holds no great place.
The picture starts right in with the death of Citizen Kane alone with his crates of priceless art treasures in his fabulous castle on a mountain, where he has ruled for a time at least a miniature of the world. Some of the points are made by the people questioned; some are made in what there is of story as it moves over the years from back to front; but the main point is that Citizen Kane wanted love from the world and went to most of his fantastic extremes to get it, yet never had any love of his own to give.
And the thing the searchers have been after, the dying apostrophe which assumes the importance of a mystery-story clue in the last sequence, develops as no more than a memory of the self of his childhood. Hearst; some traits are borrowed from other figures; some are pure ad-libbing. Kane started a war to get circulation for his paper; we hear in casual reference that he is a yellow journalist and we see in a three-for-a-nickel montage clip that he fought graft and some corrupt trusts; there is a prophecy, not followed up, that when workingman becomes organized labor he will not love the workingman; he is interviewed by the press and makes wild statements with gravity; when anyone gets in his he calls him an anarchist.
Otherwise his troubles are personal, and his death is that of a domineering and lonely man, known to all for his money, loved by none.
Beyond the facts of the career there is the man himself and this man is Orson Welles, young, older, middle-aged and in the last decrepit years, dominant throughout. Here perhaps, not so much spoken as expressed in the figure and bearing , is the ruthless force, the self-will, the restless-acquisitive which we feel the story should express if it is to tell of these things at all. This man in these circumstances should be our twentieth-century brand of a figure out of Gustavus Myers: he did not roll up that fortune to start with, but he is no second generation gone to seed, for he turned the non-working capital into influence and public excitement and a sort of twisted splendor.
It is as though Welles, as the man who conceived and produced this film story, had little enough grasp of the issues involved; but Welles as the actor somehow managed, by the genius that is in actors when they have it, to be more of the thing than he could realize. His presence in the picture is always a vital thing, an object of fascination to the beholder. In fact, without him the picture would have fallen all into its various component pieces of effect, allusion and display. He is the big part and no one will say he is not worth it. Of his actors, you can say that there are good jobs done and also that there are better ones still to be done.
Orson Citizen. Joseph Cotten had a part that was possibly short on savor because when he was with the great man he had to be something of a chump and when he was talking of him afterwards he had to be something of a Mr. Chips, with twinkle and lip-smacking. Ray Collins did a good piece of work with a stock part, and so did all the other stock parts; but to me the man to remember was Everett Sloane, who seemed to understand and seemed to represent it, the little man with the big mind, the projection without the face motion and flapping of arms.
Citizen Kane movie review & film summary () | Roger Ebert
You may be surprised when you take the film apart, and find that his relations to any analysis of Kane were as much as anything else the things that made him real. Now I believe we can look at the picture, and of course have been told to wait for that. The picture. The new art. The camera unbound.
The picture is very exciting to anyone who gets excited about how things can be done in the movies; and the many places where it takes off like the Wright brothers should be credited to Welles first and his cameraman second Herman J. Mankiewicz as writing collaborator should come in too. The Kubla Khan setting, the electioneering stage, the end of the rough-cut in the Marsh of Thyme projection room, the kid outside the window in the legacy scene, the opera stage, the dramatics of the review copy on opening night—the whole idea of a man in these attitudes must be credited to Welles himself.
And in these things there is no doubt the picture is dramatic. But what goes on between the dramatic high points, the story?
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From the beginning of his life to the end, Kane was merely a fragment of society, not a part of it. The audience fundamentally associates this idea with unresolved problems and fractured personalities. The pieces are designed to come together to form a larger, cohesive image, but they ultimately do not, leaving the spectator with a sense of lacking. Much like the snow globe, the symbol of the jigsaw puzzle holds various meanings.
He is seen only in dark shadows or with his back to the camera. These physically fragmented characters fulfill specific narrative roles in the film that their full forms would not have effectively accomplished. Of course, all of his personality traits are presented by outside narrators, not Kane himself, so they may not all be completely accurate; regardless, these contrary behaviors are considered fragments of the individual as a whole, so they fit comfortably in the fragmentation motif. Kane is shown associating with both Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive champion of democracy, and Adolf Hitler, the cruel dictator of the Third Reich.
As a politician, Kane brands himself a liberal man of the people while simultaneously building a mammoth business and the sort of frivolous wealth his fellow left-wingers would detest. Dozens of figures can be seen, all completely identical, wearing duplicate clothing, moving in the same manner. In fact, the camera captures one of the reflections before the physical man; if the spectator did not have an establishing shot beforehand, he or she may think that reflection was the actual Kane.
An entrepreneur or a politician? A liar or a man of principles? The mirrored images suggest that he is all of these fragmented persons at once, a complex being, an enigma no one can fully decipher. Indeed, Kane himself does not see or acknowledge the infinite reflections as he staggers through the hallway. Even he does not recognize that he is a multifaceted figure, full of many different sides and personalities. No, I guess Rosebud is just a piece in a jigsaw puzzle—a missing piece.
Brokenness and division pervade the film, constantly enhancing the idea that Kane is a fragmented man, pulled many in directions and filling many roles.
Luke Swanson was born and raised in Yukon, Oklahoma. He loves nothing more than a good story—as such, his passions include books and movies. He currently attends Oklahoma Christian University, studying English writing, history, and international studies. We'd love to receive a contribution from you too. Submission Guidelines.
Citizen Kane - Breakfast Scene Analysis
All Introspection. Mugshot October 17, Jigsaw puzzle is one of the central motifs and techniques used by Orson Welles in his editing experiments. Implementing the principle of psychological associations, Orson develops editing techniques which emphasize the complexity of human personality which can be seen differently by various story-tellers from their specific perspectives. Thus, involving several storytellers in the process of portraying the characters, the author allows the audience to collect separate fragments and scattered facts which are helpful for understanding the fractured personalities of the main characters.
Some of the fragments are intentionally made contradict each other for the purpose of producing the impression of controversial and biased depiction of individuals by storytellers. As opposed to traditional editing schemes, the technique chosen by Welles involves spectators into the process of solving the jigsaw puzzle, making them active participants of the investigation process.
Not completely reliable and controversial evidence provided by friends and associates of the deceased man requires critical evaluation and analysis. Instead of telling the story in a chronological manner, Welles combines it from separate flashbacks which represent overlapping segments of the puzzle.
Rosebud is considered to be the last word uttered by the main character before his death is one of the most significant segments of this puzzle. Let's see if we can help you! However, the same technique was also used by Welles for producing different effects, such as showing the growing tension between Kane and his wife through editing the quick succession of the episodes from their breakfast quarrels. This editing technique when the remarks of different narrators are overlapping and one speaker starts the idea while his follower continues it demonstrates the integrity of the plot and all its elements.