Citizen Kane (1941)

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(Note: in this review I will talk spoilers because this movie is ancient and I want to give my opinion on “rosebud”).

Citizen Kane is considered by many to be the greatest movie ever made. The structure in this film is revolutionary especially once you consider the time it was made. The entire film is told through flashbacks from different characters perspective on Kane – we never get to see Kane through his own point of view because well he’s dead.

Charles Foster Kane, played by Orson Welles (who is also the director), was a sort of celebrity. He first had a humble life before his mother gave him away to a rich man and as he grew older he acquired a newspaper company, ran for office, and was married and divorced twice. When he died, a reporter is assigned to find out what his dying word, “rosebud”, meant and how that related to his persona.

Kane is not a likable character really at any means, instead he is portrayed as a wealthy, power hungry, arrogant narcissist. While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, the characters don’t really offer any sympathetic or kinder characteristics of him. And I think that’s a problem, I can’t like Kane! While of course there is more to him than his vanity, I never got to witness that as a viewer.

Kane last word, rosebud, was meant to solve the question – Who really is Charles Foster Kane? And at the very end when rosebud is revealed to be the name of his childhood sled, it makes sense but it doesn’t directly answer the question. In my film class we talked about whether or not we could summarize someone’s life in one word and if rosebud accurately represented Kane’s life. In my opinion, one word cannot accurately describe someone’s life – humanity is just to complex to boggle down to one word. And while rosebud represented Kane’s longing for his childhood and for his once simple life, it did not summarize him fully as a person.

So is this the greatest movie ever made? My answer is simple – I don’t know! Right now I don’t exactly think so but I recognize its importance and place in film history and I understand why many people would think that. This is my first time seeing the film so I will have to see it a few more times before I could properly answer. But this is an excellent film and I give it a B.

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