After hearing all the praise for this film, the only obstacle I put in my way was the notion that old black and white movies were no good. I bet my film teacher will cringe if he ever heard me say that. Luckily, he let me borrow his copy before I let him know.
Olson Welles created this astounding film back in 1941 but you could view it as if it was released today. I honestly didn’t think I would be as entertained as I was, often noting this to myself during my viewing. The shots achieved from cinematographer Gregg Toland are revolutionary, and probably provided the framework for great cinematography. While the shots may appear too complex for the eye, the beauty of lines, shadows(oh my god the shadows), and overall depth in every shot showed me why film should be approached with the same mentality as a painting.
I’m sure there are many other blogs and articles and videos that give more analysis for this great film’s technique and design, so I want to talk about story itself. One attribute this film is credited with is it’s innovative story telling, with it’s nonlinear structure and unreliable narrators. For being one of the first to this, there isn’t a lot that Welles gets wrong. It really had a solid flow of information that kept me intrigued at all times. Speaking of, the choice to begin the movie with a summary of this man’s life first seemed like a miss step at first, because giving us the blueprint of the whole movie? Doesn’t sound smart. But now looking back, there’s a quote in the movie that describes exactly how I feel about it. It’s said by one of the reporters that, “It isn’t enough to tell us what a man did. You’ve got to tell us who he was.” The point of the film isn’t about Charles Kane’s achievement and money, it was about all the things that made him human. That’s what I learned from this film.
Again, I came into this film thinking it was another “A Man with a Movie Camera”, an old, creative piece of film that is as weird as it is also historic. But with it’s touching story, beautiful camera work, and incredible performances by the actors, Citizen Kane rightly deserves to be credited to being the greatest film of all time.
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