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James Naremore. The magician & the Mass media. Context. The work of the young Orson Welles Proto-Fascist demagogues After the whispered “Rosebud,” is “Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio.” Against one of America’s most wealthy media moguls

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  • The work of the young Orson Welles
  • Proto-Fascist demagogues
  • After the whispered “Rosebud,” is “Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio.”
  • Against one of America’s most wealthy media moguls
  • Mrs. Kane sits at the right foreground, her face the very image of stern puritanical sacrifice
  • The mise-en-scène under fairly rigid control
  • Two snow sleds
    • The first is named “Rosebud” & is given to Kane by his mother
    • The second is a Christmas present from Kane’s guardian, Thatcher
  • Which is called “Crusader,” is presented fully to the camera
  • The title character has not only two sleds but t & two friends
  • In its last moment, the film shifts from intellectual irony to dramatic irony, from apparent skepticism to apparent revelation
  • Voyeurism inherent in the medium, Y each leaves Kane an enigma
  • In the first shot, we see a “No Trespassing” sign that the camera promptly ignores
  • All the while encountering a bizarre montage: monkeys in a cage, gondolas in a stream, a golf course
  • As voyeuristic as anything in a Hitchcock movie
  • Like Kane’s own newspapers, the camera is an “inquirer,” are like teasing affronts to our curiosity
  • Aligning himself first with the progressives & then with the Fascists
  • As a mythical character like Noah or Kubla Khan
  • Everybody is involved in a dubious pursuit
  • It’s a film about complexity, not about relativity
  • Once again the search for “Rosebud” seems tawdry
  • She never heard of Rosebud
  • With a mild shock or a witty image at the beginning & a joke or an ironic twist at the end
  • In a charmingly exuberant & altogether antirealistic montage, he constantly turns to face the camera, muttering in disgust as the young Kane grows up, founds a newspaper, & then attacks Wall Street
  • Capital, it seems, is always in charge of Kane’s life
  • The inquirer offices
  • He always places personal loyalty above principle
  • Bernstein’s reminiscences are chiefly about adventure & male camaraderie
  • As the doggedly loyal Bernstein
  • Hinting that his involvement with Kane has sexual implications
  • Where Kane unsuccessfully tries to interest Leland in a woman, but even without that scene he seems to have no active sex life
  • It is Leland, not Emily Kane, who behaves like a jilted lover
  • The comic toothache scene is Susan Alexander’s apartment
  • The closing line of Susan’s song concerns the theme of power; it comes from The Barber of Seville, & roughly translates “I have sworn it, I will conquer.”
  • Large-scale effects with a modest budget
  • Painted, Expressionistic image suggesting Kane’s delusions of grandeur & the crowd’s lack of individuality. Everything is dominated by Kane’s ego: the initial “K” he wears as a stickpin, the huge blowup of his jowly face on a poster, & the incessant ”I” in his public speech
  • Occasionally we see Kane’s supporters isolated in contrasting close-ups; but his political rival stands high above the action, dominating the frame like a sinister power
  • Just at the moment when Kane’s political ambitions are wrecked, the film shifts into its examination of his sexual life
  • His tyranny is his treatment of Susan
  • An absurd plagiarism case against Welles & Mankiewicz
  • She represents for Kane a “cross-section of the American public.” when Kane meets her she is a working girl, undereducated & relatively innocent, & his relationship with her is comparable to his relationship with the masses who read his papers
  • “you talk about the people as though you owned them,” Leland says. Kane’s treatment of Susan illustrates the truth of his charge
  • Susan is reduced from a pleasant, attractive girl to a near suicide
  • Begin the arduous, comically inappropriate series of music lessons
  • She attempts to quit the opera, but Kane orders her to continue because “I don’t propose to have myself made ridiculous.” In a scene remarkable for the way it shows the pain of both people, his shadow falls over her face – just as he will later tower over her in the “party” scene, when a woman’s ambiguous scream is heard distantly on the sound track
  • Personal concerns, how the public & the personal are interrelated
  • Throughout, Kane is presented with a mixture of awe, satiric invective, & sympathy
  • The surreal picnic, with a stream of black cars driving morosely down a beach toward a swampy encampment, where a jazz band plays
  • Both shots are impressive uses of optical printing. In response, Kane blindly destroys her room & remembers his childhood loss
  • Thompson becomes a slightly troubled onlooker
  • Here it might be noted that Welles was uneasy about the whole snow-sled idea
  • A child-man, he spends all his energies rebelling against anyone who asserts quthority over his will
  • Imprisoned by his childhood ego, Kane treats everything as a toy: first the sled, then the newspaper, then the Spanish-American War
  • Ultimately settling on the “No Trespassing” sign outside the gate. We are back where we began. Even the film’s title has been a contradiction in terms
  • Richard Nixon, the “Hotel Xanadu”
  • In translating Hearst into a creature of fiction, he & Mankiewicz borrowed freely from the lives of other American capitalists (among them Samuel Insull & John McCormack). They salted the story with references to Welles’s own biography, & at several junctures they departed from well-known facts about Hearst
  • The Hearst press, this in contrast to the Hearst-Davies relationship
  • Most of these changes tend to create sympathy for Kane
  • By showing Kane as a tragicomic failure
  • Kane clearly does satirize Hearst’s public life
  • Kane’s manipulative interest in the Spanish-American War
  • In the election scenes it depicts the corruption of machine politics with the force of a great editorial cartoon
  • The film is explicit in its denunciation, showing his supposed democratic aspirations as in reality a desire for power. We even see him on a balcony conferring with Hitler
  • Kane suggests that the process of discovery is more important than any pat conclusion
  • Watching a movie rather than reality itself
  • Because of the power he wielded in Hollywood
  • The paradox is that Welles had no desire to wreck the motion-picture industry. Kane was held to a relatively modest A-picture budget
  • Industry bosses perceived Welles as an “artist” & a left-wing ideologue who might bring trouble
  • He would never again be allowed such freedom at a major studio