Sep 23

           Citizen Kane is a movie well deserving of its praise as one of the best movies of all time.  Orson Welles directed and starred in Citizen Kane. This movie was Orson Welles masterpiece and this film was truly the pinnacle of his career.  The film begins with the death of Charles Kane, and continues to shows a news reel of his life.  This movie shows elements of film making that the general public had never witnessed before in movie of that time.  Throughout the movie, Orson Welles uses elements such as flashbacks, shadows, and amazing camera work, which was revolutionary for the 1940’s. 

            One of the first elements that Orson Welles uses so well in Citizen Kane is the use of flashbacks.  The story is told through the flashbacks.  After the newsreel of Charles Kane’s, life a reporter tries to find the origin of Kane’s last word, which was Rosebud.  This leads him on an adventure investigating Kane’s life.  The reporter questioned all of the people close to Kane what they thought Rosebud meant, and when he asked each person they all had flashbacks to their time with Charles Kane. The first flashback of the film took place when Kane was a young boy and had to live with Mr. Thatcher.  The next flashback skips ahead many years, and continues to progress through the years with each flashback with Charles Kane’s friends and loved ones give providing their memories of Kane’s life.

            Orson Welles uses another element that directors never really utilized before which was amazing camerawork.  An example of some amazing camerawork he used is seen in his use of mirrors and reflections.  Welles implements windows quite often throughout the movie.  An example of this use of windows was at the end of the movie; when Kane’s wife left him, you see him walking through a hallway with multiple windows.  I believe he used multiple mirrors because when one looks in a mirror, it’s a reflection of themselves but not an exact copy of themselves.  When Kane was walking through the hallway, and saw his reflection in the mirror, he realized that he was missing something of himself and that was the lose of his wife who just left him, who he cared for and loved.  After that he was not the same person he once was.  Another example of Welles’ use of reflections was seen at the start of the movie, after Kane bought the New York Inquirer. There is a scene of him dancing with some girls, the camera moves to the window and acts like a mirror and reflects the image of Kane dancing with girls.

            The last element that Orson Welles uses superbly is the use of shadows.  I think Welles uses shadows to describe people’s personalities.  In two different scenes we see how the use of shadows illustrate that Kane is a man with anger issues and Susan Alexander depression.  The use of shadows sheds light on Kane as battling anger issues.  This is evident when Susan Alexander tells Kane that she wants to quit her singing career.  This enrages Kane, he gets up and stands over Susan, telling her that she must keep singing.  When Kane stands over Susan there is a shadow over him.  I feel this shadow represents Kane expressing his superiority over Susan and his anger towards her. Susan becomes frightened and upset.  The use of shadows illustrate that Susan has depression problems.  When Susan tried to commit suicide by taking too much medicine, there is a shadow on her when Kane walks in and tries to save her.  This clearly shows how she is so depressed that she attempts suicide.

            These are but a few elements that make Citizen Kane a great masterpiece of Cinematic history.  By using elements such as shadows, amazing camerawork and flashbacks, Orson Welles ushers in a new era, which was unheard of before him.  Many of the elements utilized by Orson Welles in his film Citizen Kane are used and incorporated by directors today.  These elements give movies depth and help them come to life on the movie screen.

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media studies