- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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I refused to see Kane for years, and then ...
- Marjorie Preston
I was always a movie nut but a bit of a reverse snob, and for decades avoided what is purported to be the world's greatest fillum. When it came to "Kane," all you ever heard about was the genius of Welles, Toland's low-angle lens, "Rosebud" -- it sounded high-brow to me. I scorned it so thoroughly, I never even learned what Rosebud was!In my 30s, I resolved to finally sit down and watch "Citizen Kane." From the first frame, I was enraptured. Sure, the cinematography. Sure, the boy genius. Sure. the deep focus, or whatever else I was supposed to go ape over. It was plain old fabulous storytelling, and made me a lifelong fan of not only Welles but Joseph Cotten (I would love to go surfing on his curly hair).For the whole movie, I was riveted. At the end, Kane was dead, all had been said, and I thought, "WAIT. What about that Rosebud thing? Did I miss Rosebud? WHAT THE HELL IS ROSEBUD?!"Then came the scene with the sled in the flames. I gaped at the screen for a few moments, then burst into tears. I must have sobbed, hard, for 15 or 20 minutes. In my book, "Citizen Kane" deserves all the applause. It really is the greatest movie ever.
Welles is great; Kane's reputation overblown
I've always felt Kane's reputation was overblown. Not a single sympathetic character, no humor to speak of, and a technique hugely derivative of other directors (deep focus and ceiling shots from John Ford, montage including sound montage from Hitchcock, newsreel effects from Frank Capra and his great sidekick Slavko Vorkapich, expressionism from Fritz Lang.) Kane is much more than just mlange of the best moments of other directors, but to call it the greatest movie ever made is, in my view, nonsense. This is the first in a long series of movies in which Welles, appearing as an actor, dies -- Mr. Arkadin, The Stranger, Touch of Evil, The Immortal Story, The Trial, Chimes at Midnight, and Othello (which opens and closes with his death), to name the ones that come to mind. This is odd. So is the choice of megalomania as the subject of the first film of a 25-year-old. With Welles we get the beginning of the pure art film in the United States, and a self-referential approach that intellectual critics loved for its implicit rejection of popular culture and commercialism, but which marked the opening of a breach between Hollywood and its audience (if also explains Welles' failure as a commercial director), which is still with us today. Andrew Sarris said there should be more art in fun, and more fun in art. Ford, Hitchcock, and Capra, among others, understood this. There's no room here to plumb their profound meanings but there is greater thematic richness in Liberty Valence, Vertigo and It's a Wonderful Life (and no less a grasp of technique) that in Citizen Kane, and they're a lot more fun to watch.Don't get me wrong. I love Welles and think he is great. It's Kane that fails to enthrall me.
the greatest movie you may never like.
this is one of the greatest stories ever made. it is also boring for some people. do not feel stupid or less if you do not think of it as being special to you. now.. if you think ice pirates is great.. you are stupid.
Liked it better the second viewing - spoiler alert
After watching this film the second time, I think I got it. The first viewing I didn't like the film at all, and couldn't figure out how it could have won any awards, so a few months later, I gave it another chance. This film has a very deep meaning and it tells of the great sadness of Kane. The boy was separated from the love of his mother at a young age, and it was very traumatic for him. He spent his life unsuccessfully trying to find it again, trying to control people to find love and acceptance. His mother's decision for the separation told him that money was more important than love. He never learned to love himself, but he was viewed by others as loving only himself. The sled he had named Rosebud and the snow scene ball were treasured by him because they represented that carefree time in his life when he was loved and happy. He spent his life buying a huge mansion full of "things", trying to fill the need for love in his life, but the movie made the point well that money doesn't necessarily buy happiness. Kane was a shopping addict of the worst kind. This was a deep film about the intense sadness caused by a lack of love.
A landmark in modern cinematic history. Revolutionary for cinematography and narrative in particular. Clever use of time and sweeping scope.
- Yukon Jack
I forgot to give my star ratings with my review titled "The Ultimate Haunted House Story", so here it is. Definitely 5 stars across the board! And an extra bonus star for artistic integrity.
The Ultimate Haunted House Story
- Yukon Jack
What a spooky mood this movie creates! Everybody always focuses on how innovative the cinematography is and rightly so. But not as many talk about how all those artistic components add up to create one incredibly ominous, haunting vibe. No there are no Freddy Krueger type slashers in this flick but you don't have to be an intellectual elitist to enjoy its mysterious dark, mesmerizing ambience. When you watch this movie you feel like you are visiting this creepy haunted castle, this lonely isolated world of shadowy figures and echoing voices. You feel a bit spooked you, feel a bit gloomy. You feel relief when the movie ends and you are now released from that haunted castle. You don't have to live in that dark shadowy world of Citizen Kane's Xanadu. But then you think about the movie and how hypnotic that haunting quality is and you want to visit the haunted house again. This is probably why people get obsessed. Orson Welles makes the life of the super rich look like an absolute psychological nightmare. His nightmare world is one of warehouses of statues that can't replace people and vaults of money that can't replace love. The movie may seem cold and gloomy but that is a brilliant way to potently illustrate it's warm message that money can't buy happiness. In my opinion the people who praise this movie are the opposite of pretentious. They say it was Welles's ignorance of movie making that made it great because he wouldn't have insisted on the impossible othwrwise. In other words you or I could potentially make a masterpiece as well . I am the farthest thing from an art snob. I like car chases and super hero flicks like your average Joe, so I'd you are thinking about watching this but it sounds like only elitists will like it, I'm here to say to give it a try.
Orson Welles' Trilogy
- Will Fox
Director Orson Welles' brilliant, film trilogy focuses on the abuses of power: 1) "Citizen Kane" (1941, embodiment of an arrogant media mogul presuming power to start war with Spain (the Philippines and Cuba) with bumper-strip-short clichs, headline rationalizations, i.e. "Remember the Maine." Epilogue: Excessive pride and resulting scandals conclude his deluded life.) 2) "The Trial" (1962, personification of a politically appointed, not elected judge that unilaterally presides over the arrest, prosecution/persecution and execution of a man that never knows what was his alleged crime.) And 3) "Touch of Evil" (1958, corrupt cop Captain investigates crimes, jumps to judgment, plants evidence, frames victims, contrives convictions). All three Welles' directed films highly recommended.
correction of michael whitty
- kevin sellers
In his review, Michael Whitty erroneously states (twice!) that Orson Welles was the lone writer of "Kane." This is, of course, untrue. The WRITERS of "Kane" were Herman Mankewiecz and Orson Welles, with Welles very much deserving second billing in this area. In fact, many film critics, including most notably Pauline Kael, in her book on the making of "Kane," felt an egomaniacal Welles jobbed Mankewiecz out of the sole credit he deserved.
Citizen Kane, Orson Welles, not for everyone
I can add little if anything to what RedRain and Mr. Blandings have expressed so well. I was one who followed the herd for a while trying to appreciate Orson Welles. I've seen a number of his films besides Citizen Kane. The Long Hot Summer, Chimes at Midnight, Othello, Touch of Evil. I gave him a fair chance and finally decided being true to myself was more important. I feel he was tolerable in The Third Man and Moby Dick because he spent so little time on screen. I'll give a slight edge to The Third Man because in some of his scenes he doesn't speak.
- Michael Whitty
Since the early 60s "Citizen kane" has been said to be the greatest movie ever made and....it is. It has one of the greatest scripts ever written by Orson Welles. In fact Welles did it all on this film....he produced and directed and acted and wrote...at the age of 25. "Citizen kane" is better because it is deeper with the characters than other films. This movie is a striking resemblance to William Randolph Hearst and Xanadu in the story is like San Simeon which is Hearst's estate. Somehow Hearst didn't like the movie and worked against its popularity. "Citizen kane" didn't even win Best Picture at the Academy Awards but Welles did win Best Screenplay. And what a screenplay it had....the characters were classicly drawn, the camerawork was brilliant in using deep focus, the editing from Robert Wise used flashbacks and montages to good effect, and the performances were something else and they all add up to...the greatest movie ever made.
- Graham Thomas
The recent critics all have a point, however, we must look in the context of the time it was made...... Innovative, truly cinematic, virtuosic, etc. All true. What is interesting is how it is fading among the general audience.... Casablanca was mentioned... And in fact it is looking a little musty now. But let's acknowledge it's value as a pioneer. Anyone interested in American film must see it.
Fascinating, Dark, Cold, Yet Memorable
- Kirsten I.
I first saw CITIZEN KANE years ago and never forgot it, although it wasn't an emotionally intense experience for me then and still isn't now. The film is nevertheless fascinating in its narrative structure recalling the life of a self-made millionaire who died alone. The performances, the cinematography, and the score by my all-time favorite master of film music, Bernard Herrmann, keep me watching. The movie exudes youthful genius, but not, for me, the human warmth of a soul-stirring art. It's certainly worth seeing once, though, and I'm drawn into seeing it again.
Greatest film? No...
I didn't like this film when I first saw it 50 years ago and I don't like it now. I studied it under a teacher who thought it was the greatest film ever made and I couldn't see the appeal then or now. I can appreciate some of the artistic complements of the film but Orson Welles' acting here leaves me cold. I personally view the film as an homage to Welles' own hyper-inflated ego. I find it very interesting that this film was a complete dud and not considered remotely impressive when it was released and it wasn't until 20 years later, when the '60s produced pseudo "artistes," and, in turn, they began teaching in colleges, that this film gained its popularity. Did "Citizen Kane" change film-making? Certainly! First to use flashbacks to tell a story. First to use focus showing background and foreground and darkness around light (chiaroscuro) to enhance shots. First to use music as an important part of the storytelling. All or some of it had been done before but never had they all been used in one film. The "MacGuffin," of course, is "Rosebud" which has nothing to do with the story as a whole but is the plot device used to simply move things along. Hitchcock had used it before Welles and others had used it before both of them in the silents. Greatest film? Isn't that really what our own personal preferences dictate? You can study this film to death and still not like it and you can see it once and believe it's the greatest. We'll be arguing over this point until the end of days...
All Hail Orson Welles the Genius.
The BEST of the BEST.
To never watch this movie is a sin, but to watch it once means damnation.
Great assessment, Mr. B! I agree, this movie is high cinematic "art" but the story is simplistic and one-note dull. And pretentious is the word for it, all right!
Overrated Importance in Film History
I've seen this film twice and thought to view one more time just to see if I missed something; however after the additional viewing I have to say I think the appeal is vastly overrated. I find Mr. Orson Welles pompous, self-absorbed, & filled with delusions of grandeur, the story dull, and the importance in film history overrated. I know it's ranked as the #1 film by AFI and critics alike, but to me this film doesn't even make my top 100 list.
The All-Time Greatest
I first saw CK in college as part of a film class. It was an old, stuffy movie theater and I settled in to bored out of my mind. Was I ever wrong. This film is great on so many levels: Story, sterling ensemble cast, cinematography, and most of all the tragic transformation of Charles Foster Kane. More than being about what money and power DO, all these years later I see it more about what money & power CAN'T do. It can't buy loyalty, love, friendship, health, or happiness. Nor can it shield the human mind and spirit from demonic delusions that only truth can extinguish. There are great films, but this jump-off-the-cliff rookie outing by Orson Welles cannot be touched in its brilliance and its ability to stand the test of time. And like Michael Jackson's THRILLER, Orson Welles was never able to repeat the dead-on master stroke of this work of art. Truly the greatest film ever made.
Overall-5/5Lead Performers-5/5Supporting Cast-4/5Director-5/5Score-4/5Title Sequence-3/5Screenplay-5/5Cinematography-5/5Importance-5/5Recommendation for fans of the genre-5/5
- Kathy K
The first time I saw this film I was a Freshman in college and thought it was brilliant. It is still a favorite of mine 30 years later, but when I watch it now, I'm not quite as mesmerized. I think this is simply because I know what "Rosebud" means. I think anyone who loves movies should see this at least once.
Citizen Kane was boring for me
Like Carla, I'v tried watching this movie four or five times, and I just get bored. I love Casablanca, my all-time favorite as well as "The Best Years of Our Lives." But, for some reason, "Kane" just doesn't do it for me.
- Patrick C.
This film is simply about humanity and its desire for power and money...It may be boring,, but,, it is truly amazing when you get the time to think about it....
I am glad that I am not so jaded at my age that I cannot still appreciate genius. It is easy for some to say this work is overrated if they have not studied art or film. Few appreciate the painstaking efforts that go into making a film and often rely on sensationalism to rate a film as enjoyable instead of the subtle complexities that I dare say seem to elude them. I teach art and I can honestly say that the cinematography of Citizen Kane is the best example of chiaroscuro and directing composition in film. It is no coincidence that this film is studied in art and film schools. The screenplay, directing and acting are also elements that make this an incredible achievement. The message is a timeless one as relevent today as it was when it was made in 1941. Welles was a cutting edge director, actor and filmmaker even if everyone does not appreciate his entire oeuvre. What were you accomplishing at 25?
My Favorite Film Of All Time
- Alex Krajci
Citizen Kane Is My Favorite Film Of All Time, I Like It Because Of Orson Welles Performance As Charles Foster Kane, The Cinematography By Gregg Toland, The Storytelling Techniques And The Score By Bernard Herrmann.
- Dashiell Barnes
One of the greatest & most historic films of all time. Welles won an 'Oscar' for original screenplay & was also nominated for producing, directing & acting. Welles perfectly embodies the William Randolph Hearst- like figure. Gregg Toland's cinematography & Bernard Hermann's score add an air of mystery to the life of Welles. The absolute best film of all history. I give it a 5/5.
Citizen Kane (1941)
- Mr. Blandings
You are not alone in your assessment, Carla; many feel that this film is overrated, and you shouldn't have to apologize for a differing opinion. When rabid supporters say "anyone who does not like this film is just not a movie lover" they are usually revealing their own pretenses and insecurities. Classic movie fans watch hundreds, even thousands, of classic films and then honestly pick their favorites. Others watch a sampling - usually the ones that polls indicate are the cream of the crop - and then pick a camp to side on. There are five classic films that have become household words, known even to the Twitter Generation: Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, It's A Wonderful Life, Casablanca, and Citizen Kane. Of these five films, one is an historical epic, one a children's fantasy, one a feel good story, one a wartime romance, and one an allegorical bio-pic. Different people are attracted to one or the other depending on what they value, or desire, most in life: be it passion, imagination, hope, integrity, or intellectualism. Accusing a person who doesn't share the same opinion of a particular film as not being a movie fan, only reveals the fear that they themselves must be lacking in one of these qualities. Personally, I found Citizen Kane to be a simple story, built on a single, predictable catch (much the way Shyamalan's movies are). Combined with the deliberate way it is filmed - with its myriad camera angles and optical FX - it all comes across as more than a bit pretentious. As in many Spielberg films, I found the "visible," obvious camera a distraction, and the scenes staged like overly-rehearsed dance steps. The acting came across as almost amateurish (in Welles case, he never took off his director's hat, and it showed) and the makeup effects were cheap and humorously unconvincing. As a course in cinematography this movie has merit but it takes more than technique to make a good film - it also needs an engrossing story and characters you can care about.
Very good Welles film and very important to film history.
- kyle rhoads
people say this is the best film of all time.... i have to disagree on that, but i do think that it is the best film cinematography wise.. but not the best film of all time
Best movie ever!
My all time favorite, impossible to take eyes off the screen. 'Casablanca" is all right, but a close cousin 'To Have and Have Not' is better IMO.
First let me say that I LOVE old classic movies. LOVE them. They and TCM are virtually all I watch on TV.Now for the part most people aren't going to like. I've seen this movie, or at least tried to see it, a dozen times or more and I just cannot understand what all the hubbub is about. I honestly don't remember ever being able to sit thru it from beginning to end, and not because I haven't tried. So many people rate this as the best movie ever (sorry but Casablanca wins that title in my opinion) that I've really wanted to see it they way they do and have sat down with an open mind and a bowl of popcorn but ..... The story isn't bad but certainly not riveting. The acting isn't anything out of the ordinary, all of these actors have performed as well or better in other movies. The camera angles, lighting, etc which are invariably mentioned are there all right, and they were evidently new styles but 'new' doesn't automatically equate with 'great'. All it really means is 'different'. So, my apologies to all who really love this movie, but this one just doesn't do it for me.
#1 of All Time For a Reason.
- R. Hudson
A movie to watch over & over again with quotable lines throughout.
Citizen Kane (1941)
This is a movie where every single shot is imperative for the film. In some ways, it tells a story on its own. This film is about Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), a newspaper tycoon, and what his last word 'Rosebud' means. It turns out the 'Rosebud' means more than just a sled but the loss of innocence in Kane's life when he was taken away from his parents so early in life and thrust into the world of media. The mansion Xanadu resembles something of Dracula's castle and how much of a monster Kane has become. The performances are sincere, especially Welles, Joseph Cotten, Everett Sloane, and Dorothy Comingore. The script is also brilliant and so is Bernard Herrmann's debut score. But the real MVP from this film is both the direction from Welles and the cinematography from Gregg Toland. Toland did such a marvelous job that his work should be considered as the best cinema has ever seen. Welles and Toland made each shot count and set the tone for the film in the opening scene. To some, The Maltese Falcon (also 1941) may be the 1st noir film. However, it is to my belief that this film, Citizen Kane, is the 1st.
- Jeff Stone
Not the best film ever, that distinction is owned by Casablanca. However this is a great film. Gregg Toland's cinematography is the best that film has ever seen. The performances are good and Bernard Herrmann scores one of his all time greats.
- Jim Smith
A timeless classic!
The Greatest Motion Picture of Them All.
- Frank Harris Horn
At 25, Orson Welles struck pure Oscar gold, when he directed, co-wrote (with Herman J. Mankiewicz) and stars in what the AFI calls "The Greatest Motion Picture of All Time". Welles assembled his brilliant cast of "Mercury Theatre" radio series players to co-star with him. Among them are Joseph Cotten, Ruth Warrick, Everett Sloane, Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead and Dorothy Comingore in a film that broke all the rules and invented some new ones. Welles plays Charles Foster Kane, a Hearst-like newspaper publisher, who rises to power in the political world. The dark, eerie cinematography is provided by Gregg Toland, and Bernard Herrmann provides the movie's dark, moody, and eerie musical score all are first-rate. Welles and Mankiewicz won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.Pretty soon, you'll know the real meaning of Kane's dying last word, "Rosebud"---that is, if you don't already know it. With William Alland, Paul Stewart, Erskine Sanford, Alan Ladd & Arthur O'Connell.
At The Top Of My List
- Bruce Reber
My first experience with "Citizen Kane" was when my 11th grade English class (we were studying films at the time) watched a 16mm (I think) print projected on a pull-down movie screen (it was 1975, before cable TV, VCRs and DVDs). After seeing it I wasn't too impressed, and to me it was just another old movie like I was used to watching on my local TV stations. However, nearly 35 years later and after seeing it many times over, I now appreciate "Citizen Kane" as one of the truly classic films of all time and as one of my top 10 favorites. It is remarkable that Orson Welles was only 25 years old when he produced, directed, starred in and co-wrote the screenplay for "Citizen Kane". If he were alive and the same age today I don't think he could have made this film. The scene at the beginning when Kane says "Rosebud", before dropping the snow globe and dying starts the speculation what that one word meant. At the end, when the sled is thrown into the furnace and you see "Rosebud" consumed by the fire, you realize it belonged to Kane when he was a kid, and that for all the power and wealth he accumulated in his life (and which ultimately destroyed him), and you finally see that the little wooden sled was the only thing that meant anything to him, and symbolized his longing to return to the innocence of his childhood.
Citizen Kane, Greatest Movie Ever Made
I've watched a lot of movies in my life. Why I haven't seen this one sooner, is beyond me. I have never watched a movie with better camera angles, parallel lines between his straight beginning to the jagged lines on the door near the end when Kane started to lose "everything." The amazing thing about this movie is that the movie watcher, whom Welles also made a character, knows that without the existance of Kane buying all of that art, collecting all of that "junk" (worth millions, would be billions nowadays), maybe their society wouldn't have done so well. But as he was tangled by the excitement money could buy him, he was collapsing into loving no one and nothing. Only the Rosebud sled had meaning to him because it revealed where Kane really came from before being "given" to a richer family. His father was extremely old-looking and his mother seemed young and looked older than she should. This picture will stick into your mind like glue. You will look at movies differently after you watch this movie, and I thought I had seen them all!
It deserves all of its acclaim, and that ending is just pure perfection. The entire movie is near perfection, anyway.
- david lauck
in my opion citizen kane is one of the true classic it beat,s out gone with the wind casablanca king kong and any other classic that i can name
- Wendy Winkler
The acting in this movie is superb. It is amazing that Orson Welles was in his twenties when he portrayed Charles Foster Kane. I think Everett Sloane was wonderful.
This is one of the best films I've seen yet . It is way ahead of its time. Orson Welles in my opinion is a genius. If I could have just a pinky finger of his vision, I would make a film. Actors such as Robert Dinero, Don Cheadle, Sam Jackson, and Thandie Newton, just to name a few. They are my inspiration, and perhaps one day I could write a script that would be worth showing to any one of them. I am a great lover of good movies and any one who does not like this film is just not a movie lover, they are a pretender.
Citizen Kane is and will always be the greatest talking movie ever made. Orson Welles makes film directing and acting look so easy. Gregg Toland does an outstanding job behind the camera. Please see this movie.
Still the greatest film ever made
This film still amazes me everytime I see it - it never dates. If you haven't seen it - break down and finally do it.