Citizen Kane (1941) and what you want to be when you grow up

CITIZEN KANE, Orson Welles, 1941, astride stacks of newspaper

Citizen Kane is considered by many film critics the best movie that’s ever been made. Although it had only won one Oscar (for Best Original Screenplay), it took the first place in AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies, both in 1998 and in 2007 and topped most of the movie industry tops done after its release in 1941.

The film presents the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), a character that’s partly based on the real life media magnate William Randolph Hearst (what was interesting at the time was that Hearst prohibited its newspapers to mention anything about the movie). The storyline focuses on a reporter’s search to find out what Kane’s dying word – “Rosebud” – meant. 

Orson Welles was the movie’s producer, co-writer, director and star, establishing him as a main figure in the American film industry. Citizen Kane is considered the best movie ever made due to the innovations it brought to cinematography, sound techniques and narrative structure (based mainly on flashbacks), which, at the time, were one step forward from what cinema was used to.

It also pointed out some of the most controversial themes in 1940’s America – fame, money, love and politics:

  • Mr. Bernstein: “A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn’t think he’d remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn’t see me at all, but I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that girl.”
  • Charles Foster Kane: “You’re right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars *next* year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I’ll have to close this place in… 60 years.”
  • – Susan Alexander Kane: “I don’t know many people.

          – Charles Foster Kane: I know too many people. I guess we’re both lonely.”

  • Charles Foster Kane: “There’s only one person in the world who’s going to decide what I’m going to do and that’s me…”

And one of my personal favorites:

  • Charles Foster Kane: “I run a couple of newspapers. What do you do?”

I’ll leave the trailer here and if you watched the movie, feel free to share your opinion. If not, do watch it, I’m confident you’ll want to talk about it :-)

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