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Citizen Kane (1941) Directed by Orson Welles

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the following presentation wa s created from information found at http www filmsite org citi html
The following presentation was created from information found at:
  • Citizen Kane is probably the world's most famous and highly-rated film, with its many remarkable scenes and performances, cinematic and narrative techniques and experimental innovations (in photography, editing, and sound).
orson welles was only 25 when he directed this film
Orson Welles was only 25 when he directed this film.
  • Collaborated with Herman J. Mankiewicz on the script (and also with an uncredited John Houseman), and with Gregg Toland as his talented cinematographer. [The amount of each person's contributions to the screenplay has been the subject of great debate over many decades.]
past influences
Past influences

Toland's camera work on Karl Freund's expressionistic horror film Mad Love (1935) exerted a profound influence on this film. The film, budgeted at $800,000, received unanimous critical praise even at the time of its release, although it was not a commercial success.

rko radio keith orpheum the company who produced the film
RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum) The company who produced the film

The film engendered controversy (and efforts at suppression in early 1941 and efforts at suppression in early 1941 through intimidation, blackmail, newspaper smears, discrediting and FBI investigations) before it premiered in New York City on May 1, 1941, because it appeared to fictionalize and caricaturize certain events and individuals in the life of William Randolph Hearst - a powerful newspaper magnate and publisher. The film was accused of drawing remarkable, unflattering, and uncomplimentary parallels.

oscar nominations galore
Oscar Nominations - GALORE

Welles' film was the recipient of nine Oscar nominations with only one win - Best Original Screenplay. The other eight nominations included Best Picture (Orson Welles, producer), Best Actor and Best Director (Welles), Best B/W Cinematography (Toland), Best Art Direction, Best Sound Recording, Best Dramatic Picture Score (Bernard Herrmann with his first brilliant musical score), and Best Film Editing. With his four Academy Awards nominations, Welles became the first individual to receive simultaneous nominations in those four categories.



William Randolph Hearst

San Francisco Examiner, New York Journal

Same kind of press lord, "yellow journalist," and influential political figure

Political aspirant to Presidency by becoming New York State's Governor

"The Ranch" palace at San Simeon, California, also with priceless art collection

A beloved mistress - a young, and successful silent film actress Marion Davies(Difference: No breakdown in Davies' unmarried relationship with Hearst)

Similarities between mistress/wife GannaWalska of Chicago heir Harold Fowler McCormick who bought expensive voice lessons for her and promoted her for the lead role in the production of Zaza at the Chicago Opera in 1920

Similarities with financier J.P. Morgan

Similarities with Tammany Hall (NYC) Boss Charles F. Murphy

  • Charles Foster Kane
  • New York Inquirer
  • Multi-millionaire newspaper publisher, and wielder of public opinion, called "Kubla Khan“
  • Political aspirant to Presidency by campaigning as independent candidate for New York State's Governor, and by marrying the President's niece, Emily Monroe Norton
  • Extravagant, palatial Florida mansion, Xanadu filled with art objects
  • Souring affair/marriage with talentless 'singer' Susan Alexander (the Hays Code wouldn't permit extra-marital affair) (Difference: Susan Alexander suffers humiliating failure as opera singer, attempts suicide, separates from Kane)
  • Character of Walter Parks Thatcher
  • Character of Boss James 'Jim' W. Gettys
cinematic technique
Cinematic Technique

More importantly, the innovative, bold film is an acknowledged milestone in the development of cinematic technique, although it 'shared' some of its techniques from Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940) and other earlier films. It uses film as an art form to energetically communicate and display a non-static view of life. Its components brought together the following aspects:

chiaroscuro the distribution of light and shade in a picture
Chiaroscuro: the distribution of light and shade in a picture
  • use of a subjective camera
  • unconventional lighting, including chiaroscuro, backlighting and high-contrast lighting, prefiguring the darkness and low-key lighting of future film noirs
  • inventive use of shadows and strange camera angles, following in the tradition of German Expressionists
  • deep-focus shots with incredible depth-of field and focus from extreme foreground to extreme background (also found in Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940)) that emphasize mise-en-scene
mise-en-scene: The arrangement of performers and properties on a stage for a theatrical production or before the camera in a film.
  • low-angled shots revealing ceilings in sets (a technique possibly borrowed from John Ford's Stagecoach (1939) which Welles screened numerous times)
  • sparse use of revealing facial close-ups
  • elaborate camera movements over-lapping,
  • talk-over dialogue and layered sound

the sound technique termed "lightning-mix" in which a complex montage sequence is linked by related sounds

  • a cast of characters that ages throughout the film
  • flashbacks, flashforwards and non-linear story-telling
  • the frequent use of transitionary dissolves or curtain wipes, as in the scene in which the camera ascended in the opera house into the rafters to show the workmen's disapproval of Mrs. Kane's operatic performance; also the famous 'breakfast' montage scene illustrating the disintegration of Kane's marriage in a brief time
  • long, uninterrupted shots or lengthy takes of sequences
overview of the story
Overview of the STORY
  • Complex and pessimistic theme of a spiritually-failed man is told from several, unreliable perspectives and points-of-view (also metaphorically communicated by the jigsaw puzzle) providing a sometimes contradictory, non-sequential, and enigmatic portrait.
  • The film tells the thought-provoking, tragic epic story of a 'rags-to-riches' child who inherited a fortune, was taken away from his humble surroundings and became a fabulously wealthy, arrogant, and energetic newspaperman.
  • Political dreams were shattered after the revelation of an ill-advised 'love-nest' affair with a singer.
  • Kane's life was corrupted and ultimately self-destructed by a lust to fulfill the American dream of success, fame, wealth, power and immortality.
  • Transformation into a morose, grotesque, and tyrannical monster, his final days were spent alone.
  • Refuge of his own making - an ominous castle filled with innumerable possessions to compensate for his life's emptiness.
the million question who or what is rosebud and what does this name represent in the film
The Million $ Question: Who or what is ROSEBUD and what does this name represent in the film?
  • The discovery and revelation of the mystery of the life of the multi-millionaire publishing tycoon is determined through a reporter's search for the meaning of his single, cryptic dying word: "Rosebud“
  • However, no-one was present to hear him utter the elusive last word.
  • The reporter looks for clues to the word's identity by researching the newspaper publisher's life, through interviews with several of Kane's former friends and colleagues.
  • Was it a favorite pet or nickname of a lost love? Or the name of a racehorse? At film's end, the identity of "Rosebud" is revealed, but only to the film audience.
some useful useless facts trivia
Some useful/useless Facts – Trivia
  • Filming was completed on October 23, 1940, after 82 shooting days. Some 276,500 feet of film had been exposed. The production cost $686,000, of which Welles received $100,000.
  • The scene where Kane destroys Susan's room after she's left him was done on the first take. Director/star Orson Welles' hands were bleeding, and he is quoted as saying, "I really felt it.“
  • Despite all the publicity, the film was a box office flop and was quickly consigned to the RKO vaults. At 1941's Academy Awards the film was booed every time one of its nine nominations was announced. It was only re-released for the public in the mid-1950s.
more for your money
More for your money
  • Xanadu's design is based on William Randolph Hearst's elaborate home in San Simeon and Mont St Michel in France.
  • For the new footage in the opening newsreel to look suitably grainy, editor Robert Wise came up with the idea of physically dragging the footage across a stone floor and running across a cheesecloth filled with sand. These efforts went unappreciated in some quarters: one cinema distributor contacted RKO to complain about the film stock being of inferior quality and demanded a replacement print.
  • Orson Welles chipped his anklebone halfway through production and had to direct for 2 weeks from a wheelchair. When he was called upon to stand up onscreen, he wore metal braces. The injury occurred in the scene where Kane chases Gettys down the stairs and Welles tripped.
film trivia
“film” trivia

The film showcased a technique called "universal focus." To get the image of Kane and the poster picture during the speech sequence, short lenses were used. At the same time, the key light (the main lights) were gradually increased to get both images sharp and clear.

In 2007, the American Film Institute once again ranked this as the #1 Greatest Movie of All Time. This film was previously the #1-ranked entry on the AFI's previous list of 1998.

The original nitrate negatives are gone; they were lost in a fire during the 1970s.

When everyone goes on a picnic in tents in the Florida Everglades, the background is a rear projection of an RKO prehistoric monster movie, possibly The Son of Kong (1933).