Sunday, April 1, 2012

141. Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane
Directed by Orson Welles

So I have some friends that know that I am a bit of a film expert (compared to most people at least) that constantly ask me what the big deal about Citizen Kane is since it is boring as hell but also considered the greatest film of all time.  So here we are (Roger Ebert helped me somewhat):

  • Deep focus shots (everything is focus at the same time)
  • Invented the L-Cut (starting the sound of the next scene in the previous scene)
  • Orson Welles is a great actor
  • Low angle shots
  • Kind of an expose on William Randolph Hearst so pretty ballsy
  • You can actually see the ceilings of the scenes (which was pretty unusual because more sets didn't have any)
  • Invisible wipes
  • Used models or drawings for establish shots but it is almost impossible to tell
  • Great speeches
As a film buff, I think all of that is pretty amazing.  Still, it simply isn't as interesting as other great movies which means unless you are interested in technical achievements, I would skip it.  I think calling any movie "The Greatest Film of All Time" is a bit ridiculous.  I think it also leads to a lot of disappointment when you finally sit down and watch it and it is boring as Napoleon.  I have talked to many people about this movie (including a very attractive film student) and I rarely find anyone that loves this film.  My friend's boyfriend even said that he hated black and white movies now because the first one he ever saw was Citizen Kane (I refrained from dueling him for my friend's sake).  One of the greatest secrets of cinema that no one wants you to know: most people don't really like Citizen Kane; they merely respect it.

RATING: ***** (I have to; I owe a lot to this guy)

Interesting Facts:

As predicted, there is a very large amount of trivia for this film so I will just give you the link.  Feel free to peruse.



  1. Not even close to true. I know plenty of film buffs who sincerely love (and enjoy) Citizen Kane.

    Including myself.

    1. I would have to agree with Amanda on this one! Most people I have discussed Citizen Kane with see its value but don't actually enjoyed it.

      Also, it is boring according to Joey and Rachel on Friends. So there!

  2. Ah, well you probably know a lot more people than me. I have maybe met about four or five legitimate film buffs and they all hate it. It is a coverage bias.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. Ok, I have to be drawn out of my cage..
    Idreaded looking what you said about this.. as you (sometimes) have formfor having a go at icons...

    I was also intrigued tosee Rachel had gothere first.. always interested to see what yu have to say.. we often agree..

    But I'm going to come out and say it.. I like Citizen Kane, it's not only a great technical and historical fim event.. but I ENJOY it.

    Sorry folks. My excuse is I'm a lot older .. notthat that should have any bearing.. but

    And Rachel.. oh good grief.. using Joey and (Friend's) Rachel's cultural taste as a guide? Err.. right.. sure.. no designer dresses, vapid celebs .. and non of the lead women flash their boobs. No wonder they didn't like it. I rest my case.

    1. So Ray, if I understand you correctly, you are dismissing Friends as a poor indicator of your enjoyment despite the fact that it is extremely popular and well-received? It seems to me that's what Amanda and I were doing with Citizen Kane.

      Not saying it's a bad movie (though boobs would definitely have made it better), I just didn't enjoy it as much as some other films that I feel are overlooked. Ones that I haven't heard mentioned in other film classes that I enjoyed more.

  4. Good morning Rachel.. Thanks for the direct reply..And good point..
    I knew I was risking Ire when I said that..
    However, that was not quite what I was saying.. Not so much decrying / dismissing 'Friends', the series as a whole.. more a 'get at' the characters of Rachel & Joey.and their taste.
    I feel I am treading on dangerous ground here.. and may upset thousands of fans (do you have 'thousands' of readers Amanda?).. but Deep breath here.. Joey isn't exactly the brightest person around.. and .. even deeper breath.. Rachel .. I find to be a very shallow and self / fashion / Celeb obsessed character not exactly given to deep insights into matters of artistic merit.
    Oh dear.. I can hear the outraged cries of 'intelectual elitism' and accusations of pretentiousness from here.
    I fully accept 'Friends' is hugely popular and successful.. and made reasonable light entertainment and would not like to dismiss it for that. It has an important place in popular culture.
    Whhat I also think is that there is also a need for something.. deeper, with more meaning, and , to me, Kane offers that.

    And do you really believe that Kane would be a better film if (say) Susan had "got 'em out" as a way of attracting CFK's attention rather than having toothache?.. with Kane responding with a Joey like wide eyed leer and some corny response along he lines of "Allll riiiight!"
    No, I doubt you are .. and it is not 'on' of me to suggest you are, and I apologise if you feel I am trying to get all superior on you. Not at all my intent. I like that (both of you) challenge the authodox assumption that Citizan Kane is simply "The greatest film ever made - full stop"

    Ouch .. sorry -I've got a bit heavy here, and regret any confontation.

    I usually like and agree with your commentsand look forward to more.


  5. Hi Ray and Rachel!
    First of all, no I do not have thousands of readers so no great worry there haha. I think Rachel was joking about the film being better with boobs. I feel like the Joey and Rachel comment about Citizen Kane kind of represented the average movie goer's attitude toward this film. It kinds of bores them but they feel like they should love it. This is probably the most any line from Friends has ever been analyzed ever.

  6. Thanks for that Amanda...
    I think you are right.. they represent, speak for, a large amount of the mass audience. Joey would rather go and see 'Transformers 10' for all the explosions or teen comedy like .. errr ... Road trip or American pie so he can jump up and down shouting "boobs, I saw boobs!".. Whilst Rachel .. well as long as it has a vapid brainless female lead who spends all day shopping for designer dresses in order to attract rich dreamboat men...

    (sorry, I stopped watching Friends because I so hated the representation of women that the character Rachel portrayed, - I feel I'm getting carried away again) I guess I'm also feeling a bit defensive as I stick by liking, admireing, and being decidedly not bored by Citizen Kane.

  7. Well, the only problem Citizen Kane has is sky high expectations going in. If you went in blank it would come out a lot better. I liked it quite a bit once I accepted that this might not be the end-all movie of all time.

  8. Haha forgot all the discussion that went on here. Exactly TSorensen, the expectations are so high with this one now that it is bound to disappoint. Better to just go in with no expectations at all.