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Best film of all time, I think not

Maybe it was because I went into this film with exceedingly high expectations, knowing it has been recognized as one of the best films of all time, that I did not particularly like it, and I say this coming from a pure entertainment aspect.

Overall, I found the film to be long and disengaging with respect to the characters, especially regarding Mr. Charles Foster Kane. I simply didn’t feel the story enough behind Kane, didn’t really build up the sympathy required by an audience member to put myself fully into it, which produced a lacking force when it comes to my opinion on it. In the end (literally), I just didn’t feel sorry for Kane. If I did, I think I would have enjoyed the film more.

However, with regard to the production aspects of the film (the plethora), I believe this to be one excellent example of film history. I loved the use of flashbacks to tell the story, the fading out of the pictures and scenes from focusing on whatever person was telling that portion of the story at the time. And of course the angles that were shot, many of which never attempted before, also made for a much more interesting and memorable movie-watching experience. I particularly liked how the interviewer, known as Thompson, his face was always hidden in the interview shots, at least until the end when he interviewed one of Kane’s butlers at Xanadu. The camera always shot from behind Thompson’s head to make the focus of the scene about the interviewee telling his or her story, their little contributing tidbit that would hopefully help spell out the life of C.F. Kane.

I also enjoyed the fact that Orson Welles starred, co-wrote and directed this film. That’s not often done in Hollywood and I have to give this film and Mr. Welles a great deal of respect for that. It made the film seem all the more real, I think, knowing this as I went into it.

In regard to the word that sums this film up in two syllables, “Rosebud,” I thought this was a wonderful addition to the film, and especially the plot. It carried the story, really, keeping your interest, even if only for the fact of figuring out in the end what the word meant, why this word meant so much to Kane that he would make it his last dying breath. Of course, in the end when the viewer finally seems to get an answer, one that ties the word to Kane’s childhood – specifically his childhood sled – that’s all cast aside when Thompson makes a note that “Rosebud” might not mean anything at all, at least not in a life as deep and as strange as C.F. Kane’s. So, in essence, “Rosebud” is explained, but at the same time, it is not, which, in my opinion, makes for a much more impactful story than most.

And of course we can’t forget about the Citizen Kane controversy, among the most intriguing aspects of the film. Though it was never explicitly stated that “Citizen Kane” was written and produced to model the crazy and controversial life of our famous Yellow Press man himself, Mr. William Randolph Hearst, it’s hard to deny the blaring similarities. Some of these include how the character of Kane worked for The New York Inquirer and Hearts for the San Francisco Examiner and New York Journal; that Kane was a multi-millionaire newspaper publisher, and wielder of public opinion dubbed “Kubla Khan” and Hearst was also a press lord, “yellow journalist,” and influential political figure, and that Kane built the extravagantly palatial Florida mansion he named Xanadu, which he filled with priceless art objects and Hearst built “The Ranch,” a palace in San Simeon, Calif., where he stored his own expensive art collection… and the list could go on and on. In my opinion, it is this controversy surrounding the film that won it such fame and a a place in the running for the title of best picture of all time.

Overall, the Citizen Kane film was a good one, just one I wish I could have had more feeling for. I would definitely recommend it to others, even if only for the brilliant production aspects and the fact that this film is undeniably a classic.

1 comment so far

I think you are probably right about this film. I’ve seen it dozens of times, and I believe the fascination in it has to be it’s role as a semi-documentary. Welles was always pushing the limits, which I say is what made him a great artist. He also showed great courage, because Hearst’s power was still very strong when this was made. But all of this outshines the film itself, which is good, but not “great”.

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