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Citizen Kane

Title: Citizen Kane
Directed by: Orson Welles
Written by: Herman J Mankiewicz, Orson Welles
Year: 1941

My foray into the top 100 movies of all time (an item on my 101-in-1001 list) continues, this time with Citizen Kane, by some people deemed to be the greatest film of all time. Although I will not go as far as to claim something like that, I will argue that Citizen Kane is really good, and that it deserves the high ranking it has got (25th on IMDB).

In 1940, publishing tycoon and businessman Charles Foster Kane dies, alone on his vast, isolated estate of Xanadu. He utters the mysterious word “rosebud” with his last breath, and journalist Jerry Thompson regards this as the clue to real understanding of Kane, the key that will unlock the door to all wonders. He and his collaborators strive to uncover the truth about Kane, and journeys far back into his past, from his being sent away from his mother and inheriting a vast fortune, to his successful business life and disastrous private life.

There are many truly excellent aspects of this film; in describing them it is to descry anything ordinary or dull. Everything that has got to do with technical skill is, at least to my mind, flawless. I do not know how, but the film did not feel very old, even though it is in black and white and was filmed almost seventy years ago. What is most fascinating about this film is, however, the portrait of the man who called himself Citizen Kane, a person we get to know quite well. The only slightly negative thing I have to say is that the story itself (the uncovering of the meaning of his last words) was perhaps not the most interesting imaginable, but it works and cannot possibly be enough to render Citizen Kane something less than brilliant.

Conclusively, Citizen Kane is worth four and a half snails, mostly because of the portrait of the main character, but also because adeptness of production and directing. If the intrigue itself would have been slightly more enticing, I would have been tempted to settle on five snails instead.

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  1. thark’s avatar

    I have tried to watch this movie on at least three occasions (spread out over a period of years), and I don’t think I ever managed more than thirty minutes or so without finding myself competely bored and disinterested and just shutting the damn thing off.

    I guess there’s just something about it that I don’t “get”.

    (I like plenty of movies from the era, so that’s not the issue. Heck, Orson Welles features prominently in one of my favorite movies ever.)


  2. Olle Linge’s avatar

    How interesting. I have always viewed myself as somewhat stupid when it comes to understanding films, feeling that I quite often “don’t get it”. That is why films such as Citizen Kane Casablanca surprises me. I somehow feel beforehand that I will not like the film or that it will have qualities I will not be able to perceive. Both have proven me wrong.

    I do not know if your watching only the first thirty minutes has got something to do with it. I almost never watch half a film, and I have no idea what I would have though about Citizen Kane, had I made a comment based solely on the first half hour. As I said in the review, I think the greatness of Citizen Kane lies in the portrait of Charles Foster Kane, and I do not think that comes across in such a brief time.


  3. Martin’s avatar

    Jag orkar varken kommentera på engelska eller era kommentarer (annat än att thark har fel). Jag håller ju Citizen Kane som en av de bästa filmerna någonsin och utan någon som helst tvekan, just för att det är en så fantastiskt välberättad livshistoria. Tyvärr har jag inte recenserat den än.