Citizen Kane is often regarded as the greatest American film of all time. It expertly executes many different aspects of film making as an art form. Orson Wells used a new style of shot framing called Mise en Scene to show the dynamics in a scene. He also used lighting in ways that had never been used before. As the star of the movie as well, Orson Wells delivers an all time great performance as Kane. All these things add up to create one of the greatest movies to ever grace the silver screen.
Citizen Kane uses Mise en Scene to show the true nature of the characters in a given scene. This can and does change throughout the movie. The first flashback to Kane’s past opens with a young Kane all-alone outside, playing in the snow. (Citizen Kane) This is done to show Kane as a completely innocent child, before Mr. Thatcher takes him away. Loosely framed shots such as this convey freedom, which is another trait of Kane at this point in his life. (Raffay, Mise) Later into the movie when we see Kane first meeting Susan another example of Mise en Scene is used. Kane is framed in these scenes to look very large. (Citizen Kane) This is done because whatever is given most space in a scene is most dominant. (Raffay, Mise) At this point in the movie Kane’s has started to shift from free and innocent to old and immoral. Further still into the movie, and Kane’s personality shift, we see another great example of Mise en Scene. In the scene where Susan tells Kane that she wants to quit singing, Kane is framed in the top center of the frame, showing his dominance. Susan is framed at the bottom right, suggesting vulnerability and insignificance. (Citizen Kane/Raffay, Mise) Citizen Kane is a great example of how to use Mise en Scene. It is used in nearly every scene, along with new and innovative lighting techniques. As much as Mise en Scene adds to Citizen Kane, the lighting techniques add just as much. Early in the film when the