“Ignorance, Sheer Ignorance”: The Audacity and Innovation of the Citizen Kane Experiment

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Note: before reading this post, I want to make an apology.  This post is designed to prove the optic innovation and aesthetic quality of Citizen KaneTo help you—the reader—see first-hand some of the innovations at hand, I have included clips from the movie.  Unfortunately, these clips are hosted through YouTube and other online sources that are subject to the fickleness of Internet connections and the variance of upload quality.  Because of this, the complete visual experience of Citizen Kane is not available in these clips alone, because they may be more blurry or slow than they would be watching a well-restored Blu-Ray or DVD release. 

In my last post, I attempted to make one point quite clear: the greatness of Citizen Kane lies in its duality.  It is part-drama, part-comedy.  It is based on truth, but shrouded in lies.  It’s a mystery with no resolution.  It is light.  It is dark.  It is black.  It is white. Continue reading

Kane the Man

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Charles Foster Kane walks through the threshold of the room that was once occupied by his beautiful wife—a shrine to her celebrity, a celebrity that was as empty as it was critically panned—but now stands wrecked and uninhabited.  Through his own machinations, he had made that woman who she was; not only was her fame a product of his intrusion, but so, also, was her marriage to him.  For years they had sat on opposite sides of the vast hall, she with her jigsaw puzzles on the floor, he in his throne-like master chairs, looking at the gargantuan fireplace before him.  Were there ever two more isolated activities than those?  Now, that void had been finally realized, and she had left him—for once, a decision based on her own free will.  His behavior had brought about her departure, and he recognized his role in it.  But, he would not be undone.  He had built that shrine, he would tear it down.  And so he had.  And now, behind him, the bedroom lays a shambles: statues, trophies, linens and furniture broken, torn and scattered throughout the room. Continue reading

The Story of Citizen Kane: William Randolph Hearst and the Kane Controversy

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The story of Citizen Kane as already written in this blog—the story of Orson Welles, the Mercury Theatre, Gregg Toland, RKO Pictures, and Herman Mankiewicz—is all well and good; but the story has far more significance when examined from a different perspective.  Imagine, for a moment, that all those players about whom I wrote in my previous post—Orson Welles, the Mercury Theatre, Gregg Toland, RKO Pictures, and Herman Mankiewicz—are the “good guys”, the protagonists, in this story about the movie’s production.  Well, a good story always has a bad guy. Continue reading

The Story of Citizen Kane: The Mercury Theatre and Other Players

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I hope that in reading the introduction to this series of essays on Citizen Kane, you—the reader—went and rented the movie and watched it, or at least wanted to.  I want to write so much about the movie; but to not watch the movie until I am done writing would, I think, be detrimental.  Part of that is because the movie is known for its important ending, which I would hate to spoil.  However, to not write about the ending would be to not write about the whole movie.  It puts me in an awkward situation.  So, go watch the movie.  Then, I won’t feel bad in throwing around some spoilers. Continue reading