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Citizen Kane Sets and editing analyst

By minhtito Feb 12, 2014 1644 Words
Citizen Kane

Essay Two
E. SETTING/SET
1. Citizen Kane: Susan's room
Considered as one of the greatest films of all time, Citizen Kane portrays Charles Foster Kane as a man of materialism, who uses money to buy everything he wants. This theme of the film is revealed at the climax when Kane trashes Susan's room after she leaves him. Undoubtedly, setting and sets play a key role in the success of this plot. First of all, Susan's room appears to be an attic room, which is quite small compared to the size of the mansion. Perhaps, it implies how small Susan's part is in Kane's life. On the contrary of its size, the room is very well decorated to the smallest details. It's full of furniture and little objects like toys, sculptures, books, paintings, etc; a big fancy bed in the middle of the room, a very unique looking door, even the ceiling timber spans have drawings on it. The setting of the room suggests Susan's argument in a previous scene that Kane indeed provides her all kinds of things, but he never give her anything belongs to him or what he cares about. In addition, Susan's room looks just like a room in a dollhouse. There is a shot when Kane comes closer and starts talking to her. A partially off-screen doll on the lower left shows the similarities between them, beautiful and naive. Orson Welles also uses deep focus and low angle shot in this setting to show how old age and weakness make it's difficult for Kane to move around the mess as he destroying Susan's room.

D. EDITING:
2. Citizen Kane: from the opening shot to "News on the March" Citizen Kane begins with a fade in. The first thing we see is an old "no trespassing" sign hanging on a chain-link fence. The old rusty sign with a dark blurry background gives us a spooky and mysterious sense of whatever behind the fence. As the camera moves upward, the shot fades out as another shot of different type of fence fades in, until it gets to a high angle shot where we can see a gate and the whole view of Kane's house. From here, the camera stops moving and the screen changes, followed by a series of dissolve effects. Robert Wise uses these transition techniques to take us to different parts of Kane's mansion and, at the same time, implies stories of the owner behind each image. For instance, the first shot shows two moneys appear to be locked in a cage. This shot says that the owner is a very wealthy person who even owns a private zoo. While the view and background keep changing, a bright window, also the highest point in the clips, always stays at the same spot. Indeed, the scene after the "monkeys" shot shows a reversed reflection of the house on water, yet the window remains at the same spot even thought the size is slightly changed. The use of graphic match editing technique not only helps to establish but also suggests the importance of the location where the next scenes will take place. Indeed, after showing us around the mansion, a lap dissolve takes closer to the window where we are barely able to see Foster Kane's bed. In this scene, high contrast helps us see the decorations and symbols on the wall outside the building, and suddenly the light goes off. As soon as the light slowly turns back on, we notice that the contrast of the wall is gone; the surrounding area of the window remains completely dark. However, we can still see a part of the curtain on the top right and the blanket on the lower bottom of the screen, that's when we realize that camera is now on the other side of the window. The play on contrast here helps the graphic match become much more interesting and effective. From this point, the editor uses another dissolve effect as the transition to a brighter scene, which appears to be in the middle of a snow storm. Then, a styled house covered in snow slowly appears, occupies the whole frame. Soon enough, we realize that it was inside a snow globe on Kane's hand when the camera quickly zooms out. The camera stays steadily looking at the globe for a moment and then followed by a series of cut scenes. The first thing we see after the cut is an insert shot of somebody's mouth occupies the whole scene. We can tell it is an old man based on the color of the mustache. And as the mouth opens, we hear the first word throughout the entire first two minutes of the film: "Rosebud." By doing this, the director emphasizes the key role of the word "Rosebud", and, at the same time, raises our curiosity. A few cuts scenes show us the man's arm suddenly rests as the prop, the snow globe, falls off his hand and breaks into pieces. At this moment, we can sense that something bad had happened to him. Noticed that the snow storm does not disappear but superimposes on the shots until Kane drops the snow globe. As soon as the snow globe breaks, we can see a reflection of a nurse opens the door on a close-up of the broken glass. She walks in and pulls the blanket over his face. Using cuts as transition, the scenes change so rapidly which makes Kane's death feels more dramatic. A fade out takes us to the next setting called "News on The March," which basically is a brief summary of Charles Foster Kane's life through the public's perspective. Numerous types of editing techniques were used throughout these scenes including optical effects (fade-ins, fade-outs, dissolves, wipes,) as well as texts and animation to support the narrative. "News on The March" starts with a series of animated screens with texts on them. The texts remain as the background changes into several shots of different architectures, taken from low angle, fade in and out. A few extreme long shots, which appear to be taken from a helicopter, show the whole view of the mansion. After that, the camera jumps through space and time, take us to all different area such as construction sites, swimming pool, buildings, beach, etc. After viewing the construction of the mansion, the scenes switch to Kane's collections followed by a series of wipes as the transition. The images appear one after another by horizontal wipes in a short amount of time suggest the large quantity of his collections. Perhaps, the reason why the film's editor chose horizontal instead of vertical wipes is because there are shots showing workers moving from left to right. As the packages move across the frame, the picture's border goes along with it. Hence, it is another clever use of match cut in such a short scene. The shots and the narrative then list the animals in Kane's private zoo, which explain the "monkeys" shot at the very beginning of the film. A few more cuts of architectures and gardens cram in, showing off how wealthy Charles Foster Kane is. All of the sudden, the screen fade out with a text on a black background saying " In Xanadu last week was held 1941's biggest and strangest funeral." Even without reading the text or listening to the narrative, we could easily notice the twist of the story because of the fade out and the speed of the next scenes compared to the previous. After showing Kane's coffin, we get to see his face for the first time via a portray on a newspaper. The camera then zooms out and moves up to the headline very quickly. From here, we can see headlines from different newspapers as they are removed to off-screen, some even in other languages such as Russian, Spanish, Japanese, etc. to show how influential Charles Foster Kane is. A cut takes us to another text screen, which also is the beginning of the story about the fortune of his business before and after his death. Another list of property, introduced by a sets of cut scenes, leads to a brief history of his business and his life, and how do they effect the economy, politic, and so on. The scene jumps through different period of time; we can notice it easily by just looking at color of Kane's hair. The story goes from his business, contributions, political involvement, to private life; each topic is separated by an optical effect. During the summary scenes, there are more optical effects are used such as vertical wipe and iris shots. For example, there is a scene viewing newspaper production line in one of Kane's factory. As the newspapers are moving up, vertical wipes from the bottom to the top are used as the transition to the next screen; or a plot showing a newspaper talking about his scandal with the "Singer" Susan Alexander, iris-out was used to attract viewer's attention to the headline. The film continues to tell other twists and turns in Kane's life and his business using short cut scenes until the last years of Charles Foster Kane, which is captured on tape. The camera is shaking and the video is recorded in lower quality suggests that they were taken by amateur or paparazzi. These are some close-up shots, which we can see the fences blocking most of the frame while Kane image is on a corner or a smaller portion of the screen. This technique makes the film looks more realistic. Finally, the camera goes back to normal, steadily and clear, viewing the news of Kane's death on a big electronic advertising board on top of a building. "News on The March" ends with a text "THE END" on the background looks like the one in the beginning.

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