Rachel Morrell - Film Studies Practice Essay
“Citizen Kane Involves us in a stream of conscious chronological narrative dance” - Dan Jardaine. Discuss Orson Welles’ narrative choices and how they relate to the film’s title.
Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane employs a conventional narrative structure combined with a rounded group of sequences throughout the film. These portray Kane’s life and create a three dimensional character. The effect of which being that the viewer is more drawn to the identity of the central character and becomes invested in the journey of how he arrived at his current position. This essay will discuss in detail how Welles’ acheives this by using narrative structure, music and direct embodiment through flashbacks and music to not only convey a lifelike and relatable persona in Kane, but also how it explores the audience’s relationship with identity and citizenship.
As noted in Narrative as a Formal System ( ),
‘Citizen Kane is a good example of a of a film that relies on genre conventions, but often thwarts the expectations they arouse.’ This is clear from the first two sequences in the film. We are introduced to Kane in Xanadu, and as the camera fades in, the mise en scene sets the air of mystery with dark lighting and the large castle looming in the background, a very traditional and genre specific introduction. As the audience become aware of Charles Foster Kane as a dying man, he mutters his last word, “Rosebud”. This clever use of scenery and dialouge is also part of the narrative structure as it makes the audience question why the character has said this word and gives a false indication of how the plot may develop. The next scene contrasts hugely with the opening sequence when the narrative takes the form of a newscast, which gives an overview of Kane’s life and controversy. This part part of the film acts as a miniature of the entire film, with its own titles, fast pace, narrator and flashbacks. The music is also that of a...
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