Saturday, November 21, 2009

Capsule Review: Citizen Kane (1941)

An achievement so magnificent that modern audiences may miss out on the countless innovations, Citizen Kane remains an entertaining and enjoyable yarn even outside of its technical brilliance. Constructed by an impossibly young Orson Welles, who also penned the screenplay (with controversial input from Herman J. Mankiewicz), the film famously dramatizes elements of the life of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in the lead character of Charles Foster Kane, a high minded boy millionaire whose ethics and relationships begin to erode, alienating him from his friends and lovers before he dies alone in his massive mansion Xanadu. The film is structured around a reporter's search for the meaning of Kane's final word (“rosebud”) and the impressions that the man made on the lives of those he touched throughout his life. Impeccably directed, with photography by Gregg Toland that constantly breaks established cinematic rules, Kane also features amazing performances – particularly from Welles himself who, though only 24 at the time, convincingly plays Kane up to his 70s. As impressive today as it ever was.

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