Analysis Of Citizen Kane Essay Research Paper

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Analysis Of Citizen Kane Essay, Research Paper The classic masterpiece, Citizen Kane (1941), is probably the world’s most famous and highly rated film, with its many remarkable scenes, cinematic and narrative techniques and innovations. The director, star, and producer were all the same individual – Orson Welles (in his film debut at age 25), who collaborated with Herman J. Mankiewicz on the script and with Gregg Toland as cinematographer. Within the maze of its own aesthetic, Citizen Kane develops two interesting themes. The first concerns the debasement of the private personality of the public figure, and the second deals with the crushing weight of materialism. Taken together, these two themes comprise the bitter irony of an American success story that ends in futile

nostalgia, loneliness, and death. The fact that the personal theme is developed verbally through the characters while the materialistic theme is developed visually, creating a distinctive stylistic counterpoint. It is against the counterpoint that the themes unfold within the structure of a mystery story. Its theme is told from several perspectives by several different characters and is thought provoking. The tragic story is how a millionaire newspaperman, who idealistically made his reputation as the champion of the underprivileged, becomes corrupted by a lust for wealth, power and immortality. Kane’s tragedy lies in his inability to experience any real emotion in his human relationships. The apparent intellectual superficiality of Citizen Kane can be traced to the shallow

quality of Kane himself. Even when Kane is seen as a crusading journalist battling for the lower classes, overtones of self-idolatry mar his actions. His clever ironies are more those of the exhibitionist than the crusader. His second wife complains that Kane never gave her anything that was part of him, only material possessions that he might give a dog. His best friend, Jedediah Leland, was a detached observer functioning as a sublimated conscience remarks to the reporter that Kane never gave anything away: “he left you a tip”. In each case, Kane’s character is described in materialistic terms. What Kane wanted – love, emotional loyalty, the unspoiled world of his boyhood, symbolized by “rosebud”, he was unable to provide for those around him, or buy for himself.

The intriguing opening is filled with hypnotic dissolves from one sinister, mysterious image to the next, moving forward closer and closer. The film’s first sight is a “No Trespassing” sign hanging on a giant gate in the night’s foggy mist, illuminated by the moonlight. The camera pans up the chain-link mesh gate, which dissolves and changes into images of great iron flowers or oak leaves on the heavy gate. On the crest of the gate is a single, silhouetted, wrought iron “K” initial. The gate surrounds a distant, forbidding-looking castle with towers. The fairy-tale castle is situated on a man-made mountain, obviously the estate of a wealthy man. The same shots are repeated in reverse at the very end of the film. The initial and concluding clash of realism and

expressionism suggests in a subtle way, the theme of Citizen Kane. The intense material reality of the fence dissolves into the fantastic unreality of the castle, and in the end, the mystic pretension of the castle dissolves into the mundane substance of the fence. Matter has come full circle from its original quality to the grotesque baroque of its excess. As each flashback unfolds, the visual scenario of Citizen Kane orchestrates the dialogue. A universe of ceilings dwarfs Kane’s personal stature. He becomes the prisoner of his possessions, the ornament of his furnishings, and the fiscal instrument of his collections. His booming voice is muffled by walls, carpets, furniture, hallways, stairs the vast recesses of useless space. Gregg Toland’s camera set-ups are designed to