Watched: October 22 2016

Director: Orson Welles

Starring: Orson Welles & the Mercury Actors

Year: 1941

Runtime: 1h 59min

Note: only Sister the Oldest watched this, as Sister the Youngest had fucked off to Oslo. Incidentally, she timed her trip so that she would avoid watching Citizen Kane… And unlike The Bank Dick, whose title no one could resist, Sister the Oldest couldn’t find anyone interested in watching this classic drama with her, so it was just her, a bottle of wine, and Orson Welles. She had a blast!

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It was terrific!

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We suppose no one really needs a recap of this classic, as it is generally considered the greatest film of all time. Still, we’ll give you a short summary. A rich, narcissistic publishing tycoon, Charles Foster Kane (Welles), dies alone in his vast mansion, and for some reason everyone knows his last word, “Rosebud,” even though he was clearly alone when he died.

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Our theory is he was overheard by a chatty ghost, as this place is clearly haunted!

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A journalist working on a newsreel of the magnate’s life (which was in no way based on real people, by the way! No siree, not at all!) sets out to find the meaning of Kane’s last word, and interviews old associates, friends and an ex-wife to try and get to the bottom of the mystery. He fails in that particular quest, but what he does find is a sad boy with abandonment issues and a slight case of megalomania. As for “Rosebud,” the audience are given the answer at the end of the film.

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Hint: it’s pictured here, and it is not wearing a top hat. #spoileralert

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I have to level with you, and admit that we were not looking forward to this. We both watched it in school when we were about 16 or 17, and found it incredibly boring, which is why S.t.Y. decided to skip town rather than rewatch it. I, S.t.O., wasn’t really excited either (while interested in film at 17, I was more into the Jackson and Raimi cult horror stuff than the Welles classics kind), but I have clearly matured a bit since 17 (thank God!) and this time around, I loved it.

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It even has a dance number! More than enough to keep me entertained.

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It had me from the Gothic opening and I was enthralled throughout. The story, the shots, the camera angles, the non-linear storytelling, not to mention the increasingly unlikable Kane, all come together to make a great film. One could spend hours (and paragraphs) analysing and commenting on the technical and artistic brilliance of Citizen Kane, but that has been done several times by people better qualified than me, so I shan’t even attempt it. I’ll just tell you this: if you were forced to watch it at a young age and didn’t like it, wait until you’re older and rewatch it. You won’t be sorry.

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I’d also like to point out that Welles was only 26 when Citizen Kane was released. Just to add to any inferiority complex you might have.

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What we learned: no matter how good your intentions, money and power corrupt.

Next time: Dumbo (1941)

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11 thoughts on “#54 Citizen Kane

  1. We might at the end. We’re doing a summary every 50 films, so we might do a full summary when we’re completely done. In about 5 years… But that’s a good idea! Milk this for all it’s worth!

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    1. Thank you so much, that’s very kind! I’m very glad I rewatched it as well – I really loved it this time. I think the main thing about writing about Citizen Kane (which I was dreading, to be honest) is you have to either be very thorough about it to do it justice or take the easy way out – don’t analyze it at all. We went for the latter. Much easier. Besides, it’s been written about so much that there’s very little point in trying to write something new about it unless you’re a scholar. Which none of us are.

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