Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Citizen Kane

Goal #22 on my 30 Before 30 is to watch five great movies I've never seen. Sunday night, Carol and I watched Citizen Kane.

If you want a thorough analysis of Citizen Kane, go elsewhere. Here, or here, or here are good places to start. I'm not steeped enough in the history of cinema to weigh in meaningfully.

I'm really interested in the development of the character. Kane is a blank slate in many ways; in the movie's opening scenes, his mother inherits a tremendous fortune and sends him off to have the most wonderful life that money can buy. Unburdened by the demand to be profitable, Kane is able to be successful- to develop a declaration of principles and to live by them. His convictions galvanize the people around him, or at least, they understand that in the presence of the money man, they are to act galvanized. One of the most telling scenes is the party to celebrate the success of Kane's newspaper, when Kane's friends wonder to each other how long it will be until the real world begins to corrupt their young leader.

I'm also interested in the framing tale. The reporter's search for the meaning to "Rosebud" gives the movie its forward momentum; it justifies the act of telling. The reporter's failure is a classic nod- Mighty Casey strikes out, Frodo can't bring himself to throw the Ring into the volcano after all, Oedipus is as Oedipus does.

I especially enjoyed how many shots from the opening scene were echoed in later shots, especially the long rise up to the top of the gate/ house echoed in the even longer rise up from the Opera House stage to the crew mocking the show from the rafters. It's a common device in comics, and it made the three hour movie feel connected throughout its acts.

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