A Fledgling's Masterpeice
Citizen Kane is widely hailed as the "great American film" and with good reason. From its complex narrative structure to pioneering photography to its incredibly rich use of sound, Welles' 1941 picture remains one of the most innovative movies ever to come out of a Hollywood studio. Even Today Citizen Kane stands out as one of the great films of all time.
Unfolding almost entirely in flashback, Welles's masterpiece presents various perspectives on the oversized life of the recently deceased Charles Foster Kane. Through the reminiscences of friends, family, and coworkers, the film moves from Kane's childhood to his rambunctious adolescence, from the heights of his success to the depths of his isolation. All the while there is a search for clues to Kane's mysterious last word: "Rosebud." The puzzling phrase drives the tale, but ultimately it is only a means of exploring the film's real theme: the impossibility of truly understanding any human being.
In the film Kane (Orson Welles, who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay) is separated from his parents as a child and made heir to an enormous fortune. Coming of age, he decides to run a newspaper, sensationalizing the news and considering himself to be the voice of the people. With ambitions beyond publishing, he runs for New York Governor, and later promotes the singing career of his second wife Susan. He also builds Xanadu, an extravagant palace that is never finished. These various ambitions fail, and Kane dies a wealthy but spiritually broken man.
When William Randolph Hearst (multimillionaire and media tycoon) got wind of what 25-year-old Orson Welles was creating at RKO's film studio, he feared his life was the inspiration for the main character. In response Hearst and his newspapers employed all their influence to try and stop Citizen Kane's 1941 release.
John O'Hara of Newsweek addresses just this controversy in his review of Citizen Kane. He begins by stating that...
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