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Characteristics Of A Totalitarian Government Portrayed In The Film, Citizen Kane

1827 words - 7 pages

Citizen Kane, released in 1941, is one of America’s greatest films. The film is widely considered a cautionary tale for the late 1930’s and the early 1940’s. The main character, Charles Foster Kane is portrayed as a character that is similar to the totalitarian dictators that came about during this time period, such as Adolf Hitler. Totalitarian dictatorships have the goals of creating unity among the masses and obtaining control over individuals and society. There are three key characteristics of totalitarian governments that are portrayed in the film Citizen Kane. This form of government uses propaganda to sway the opinion of the mass population, they gain power with the unity, support, and trust of the masses, and they try to control every aspect of their political states. The character of Charles Foster Kane is portrays these different characteristics of totalitarian dictators, warning viewers of the possible political ways of the present and the future.
In the film Citizen Kane, Charles Foster Kane was the head of the Inquirer newspaper empire. As Mr. Kane grew more powerful in his life, he began to use his newspapers as a written propaganda machine. This went against his initial principles of leading a newspaper that reports the news both truthfully and honestly. One example of Kane using the newspaper to sway the ideas and opinions of the readers of the Inquirer is in relation to Susie Alexander and her opera. Susie’s opera received poor reviews by the different newspapers, including the Inquirer, but Kane demanded that she continue to sing. He published many newspapers that gave the impression that the opera was one of the best, even though he himself knew it was not true. His titles and articles made people have a false opinion and idea of the opera and allowed the opera to continue. Kane’s use of propaganda shows the audience how dangerous propaganda can be. It shows that propaganda can be a successful tool in getting the people to think what the publisher wants them to think. Adolf Hitler used propaganda as a tool to unite the people under his rule and to sway the political beliefs of the masses in his favor.
As Adolf Hitler began to gain power in Germany, propaganda was a key component of his political plan. Hitler believed that propaganda was the best way to unite the masses. He used propaganda in a different manner than Charles Foster Kane did in the film, but it had the same goal; to formulate the opinions of the people of Germany in his favor. Hitler believed that the best use of propaganda was through simple slogans that specifically targeted the emotions of the middle and lower classes. The main emotion that was targeted by Hitler and the Nazi party was terror. “Many Germans, seduced by Nazi propaganda, accepted terror as a legitimate weapon against subversives and racial defilers who threatened the new Germany” (Perry 445). As seen with the people of Germany during the 1930’s and 1940’s, propaganda can...

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