Citizen Kane

Topics: Film techniques, Low-angle shot, Low-key lighting Pages: 6 (2500 words) Published: August 5, 2010
Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles, is considered to still be one of the world’s greatest movies ever produced. Citizen Kane is a powerful dramatic tale about the uses and abuses of wealth and power. It's a classic American tragedy about a man of great passion, vision, and greed, who pushes himself until he brings ruins to himself and all around him. From the scene depicting Kane’s meeting Jim Gettys, the audience observes that Kane has aborted his youthful ambitions and has become self-absorbed, which leads to his downfall. Welles conveys this to viewers in this scene by mise-en-scene, camera angles, movement, and lighting. From an Interview with Kane’s oldest friend, Jebediah Leland, provides the necessary exposition on Kane’s personal life and becoming a victim to his professional life. It begins with series of dinners Kane has with his wife Emily Norton, in which utilize a temporal editing rhythm by showing an obvious time difference. Over a short period of time the passion Kane once had for his marriage had simply been transferred back into his newspaper. His dissolving marriage had placed him in the situation to come in contact with the young Susan Alexander. As the two invested the time into one another, Kane convinces Susan to perform on the piano for him, in which occurs more than once. Kane’s quiet applause for her private piano recital for him dissolves into a similarly rhythmic applause during Leland's campaign speech for Kane before a small crowd. Leland introduces Kane ideology on a workingman's ticket to a small outdoor audience, describing him with mythic proportions: “the fighting liberal, the friend of the working man, the next governor of this state, who entered upon this campaign...” The scene jump cuts to the echoing and booming of Kane voice finishes Leland's words in a dramatic dovetailing of scenes to illustrate Kane's quick rise to power. This memorable political speech Kane had presented in the vast Madison Square Garden, was a harsh attack against Boss Jim Gettys and a seemingly pre-emptive governor celebration. Upon leaving Madison Square Garden, Kane briefly encountered his son before Emily had sent him away in a car. She too decides to leave in a taxi to an address that was included in a note about certain activities Kane was involved in as well as possibly involving the whole family into the mess. Kane believes that he has lost and agrees to accompany Emily to what turns out to be Susan’s place. The sequence I choose opens with a shot 1 of Kane and Emily arriving at Susan’s building where the camera quickly tracks inward from a wide two-shot on Kane and Norton standing at the door finally composing them in a symmetrical medium shot that’s framed by the doorway. This shots shows the importance of the Kane and Norton’s predicament and the emotional intensity that awaits upstairs, in addition to establishing Susan’s apartment building in which they are about to enter. The only major source of light provided is a diffused light that permeates from the double doors, which separate the two tonalities. There is a very subtle illumination that slightly backlights each character that originated from the exterior ornamental building lights, one on each side of the doors archway. A sense of honest emotionality is clearly conveyed through the use of elegant costume designs and tonal properties. The tonality of Kane’s suit and hat are both of the deepest black representing his decaying integrity in contrast to his earlier Declaration of Principles. And to contrast Kane’s appearance and as a result of her sincerity and understanding, Norton is wearing a beautiful and glossy white dress with a brighter white fur collar. They enter the building and Kane receives a stiff look from his wife because of the landlord’s familiarity with Kane. The blocking that Welles had been arranged, allowed Mrs. Norton to enter the building first, giving Kane an extra moment to contemplate his behavioral actions. As they...
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