The Criterion Voyages: CITIZEN KANE (Spine #1104) -- A Film That Deserves the Moniker of Masterpiece
By Dan Skip Allen
Citizen Kane is widely considered by many to be the best movie of all time. It's the magnum opus of legendary filmmaker Orson Welles. It is quite an achievement for Criterion to get this great film. Now it's available as Spine #1104, the first 4K Blu-ray in the Criterion Collection. The format lends itself to this great film quite nicely.
The film is about the life of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles). Newspaper reporters have found out that the last word from Kane before he died was "Rosebud", so they try to figure out what that word means. They go from person to person trying to get to the bottom of this mystery, from his ex-wives to his best friend, Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotton), with whom he built his newspaper empire. That famous word is part of what made this film an absolute masterpiece in the eyes of so many people.
Welles's filmmaking style is also what helped make this film so great. He has some amazing camera shots in the film. One, in particular, is where he's looking into a stand-up mirror and it seems like it keeps going forever. Other tracking shots and camera movements throughout the film are done impeccably. Fade-ins and so forth are used perfectly to pass time throughout the film. Welles is a master with the camera and framing shots.
Citizen Kane has various forms of music in it, from one of Kane's ex-wives singing opera to the score by Bernard Hermann, one of the greatest composers of all time. The film has amazing moments of music throughout using various forms of strings and the piano to create moments of joy and or depression. Even bands in the background create a sound for the film.
Kane spent a lot of his fortune on his property known as Xanadu in Florida, as well as expensive trinkets which he littered throughout the expansive property grounds. He built it for his second ex-wife Susan (Dorothy Comingore), an opera singer. It turns out it was just a giant place where he ended up all alone in his final days. Millions of dollars worth of property, art, statues, and everything under the sun that couldn't buy him happiness.
Citizen Kane is often claimed to be a film about newspaper magnate William Randolf Hearst. Welles was ruined for years after the film came out in 1941. Hearst considered it an insult and kept Welles from ever becoming the great filmmaker he was destined to be because of Citizen Kane. He was in a few other films and directed a few as well, some of the most notable of which are The Third Man, Touch of Evil, and The Magnificent Ambersons. Even Netflix acquired a lost Wells film, The Other Side of the Wind, that was preserved. People have always devoured anything from Welles. He is such a magnanimous personality and a terrific director.
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