A Short Analysis of Citizen Kane, a Movie by Orson Welles
Citizen Kane is often viewed as one of the best films ever made. The film contains many remarkable scenes and cinematic techniques as well as innovations. Within this well-known film, Orson Welles portrays many stylistic features and fundamentals of cinematography. This partly because of how well he used the “train set” and all the resources of the Hollywood studio. Also, Welles drew upon so many styles and techniques that cinema had developed up to that point. Analyzing Citizen Kane can be useful as it is unusual in form and varied in style. The investigation plot that the movie carries us toward analyzes how causality and goal oriented characters may operate in narratives. It’s the films manipulation of our knowledge that sheds light on the story-plot distinction. Kane also shows how ambiguity may arise when certain elements are not clearly motivated. The films use of narration shows how our experience can be shaped by the way the narration governs the flow of story information. ( Week 1 Reading Bordwell Thomas).
The film owes a great deal to the German Expressionism period, for its brilliant use of lighting and shadow. Orson Welles used light and shadow not as a necessity but to give scenes a certain meaning and atmosphere. He used lighting expressively to hit viewers with desired emotions. Welles used light and shadow to specifically tell the audience what to focus on. From beginning to end Citizen Kane employs a wide variety of continuity editing techniques that help to move the movie’s story. Editing in the 1940’s was extremely important for the strong narrative nature of most of the films. In Citizen Kane, the editing is essential to the story and adds to the mystery of the film. In this film, the editing techniques are heavily used in the beginning of the film to create mystery and suspense. The editing of the first scene creates a dreamy, continuous flow of images, the editing used to show Kane’s death was distinctly different.
Citizen Kane was very influential in its narrative style. The story was structed in a way where instead of being told from the perspective of a single character. It is told by various characters, that were associated with Kane. This broke the idea of having to tell a story from one continuous point of view. This is a style of storytelling that influenced future movies such as Rashomon and The Killing.
One of the most influential aspects of Citizen Kane is the various original camera shots. The crane shot was one such camera technique that added a unique and atmospheric quality to the film. This effect was used in the scene in which the camera pans from the rooftop of Susan’s nightclub, down through the skylight to the table at which she sat, as well as in the final scene when the camera passes over the huge piles of artifacts that Kane collected. Another effective cinematic effect that was used in this film was the use of the exceptionally low camera angles. This technique was used to create a dramatic tension between characters. Kane is also made to look God like and enormous during certain aspects during the film, while in later shots in the film he looks puny and lone. They shot sequences to emphasize the size of the people and the importance of their size at that time in Kane’s life.
RKO 281: The Battle Over Citizen Kane tells the story of the making of “Citizen Kane”. There was much controversy over the production of the movie and its release in 1941. Citizen Kane is based on the life of William Hearst, publishing mogul. The intimate details of his life were showcased by Orson Welles. The controversy over the film is well presented. The viewer sees both Welles’s side and Hearst’s objections. The audience is able to see just how personal the film is to Hearst’s life. Well’s justification for this was that Hearst has a monopoly over the newspaper business and uses those newspapers to promote his own political beliefs.
It was well known during this time that Hearst was not just a business man, but a politician, and a corrupt one at that. Welles wanted the world to see Hearst for who he was, and what he was doing behind closed doors. RKO 281 gets to the root of this, and to the emotions felt by both Hearst and Marion with the making of the movie Citizen Kane was a very influential and powerful film. The movie was very innovative in its use of unconventional film styles. Such as the broken narrative structed between multiple point of views. Its use of cinematography and lighting. Citizen Kane opened doors for new ways of filming making and ultimately progressive film narration and interesting new film techniques.