The classic masterpiece, Citizen Kane (1941), is probably the world's most famous and highly rated film, with its many remarkable scenes, cinematic and narrative techniques and innovations. The director, star, and producer were all the same individual - Orson Welles (in his film debut at age 25), who collaborated with Herman J. Mankiewicz on the script and with Gregg Toland as cinematographer. Within the maze of its own aesthetic, Citizen Kane develops two interesting themes. The first concerns the debasement of the private personality of the public figure, and the second deals with the crushing weight of materialism. Taken together, these two themes comprise the bitter irony of an American success story that ends in futile nostalgia, loneliness, and death. The fact that the personal theme is developed verbally through the characters while the materialistic theme is developed visually, creating a distinctive stylistic counterpoint. It is against the counterpoint that the themes unfold within the structure of a mystery story. Its theme is told from several perspectives by several different characters and is thought provoking. The tragic story is how a millionaire newspaperman, who idealistically made his reputation as the champion of the underprivileged, becomes corrupted by a lust for wealth, power and immortality. Kane's tragedy lies in his inability to experience any real emotion in his human relationships. The apparent intellectual superficiality of Citizen Kane can be... [continues]
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