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Citizen Kane Essay

970 words - 4 pages

The debate over Casablanca and Citizen Kane has been a classic argument between film critics and historians alike, and this is because both of these pieces are timeless pictures that have managed to captivate audiences well after their era. On a broad spectrum analysis this is an apples and oranges debate as the two films both have great cinematographic value but for different reasons. However, the real question at hand is which film is the greatest? Which film transformed the future of American film making? It is these questions that I as many others have, will attempt to answer in the following essay as I explain why I believe Citizen Kane is the greatest film ever made.

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Following this is a biographical style narrative where Welles compresses most of Kane's life story into a fictional newsreel segment called “News on the March” which was a parody of the 1931 to 1943 American radio series The March of Time. Editor Robert Wise was said to have “blended 127 different clips of film into the newsreel, some of which were actual news footage while the others were staged shots of the actors.” Later Welles was said to have “aged” these by dragging the negatives across a concrete floor.

In the closing of the newsreel we find ourselves in a room full of highly shadowed journalists, with little to no recognizable faces. Reporter Jerry Thompson is directed by his editor to pursue ominous feel as we are slowly taken closer to Kane’s mansion and are shown a lite window which fades to black, and snowflakes suddenly fill the screen. As the camera pulls back, a snow-covered cabin comes into view. The camera pulls back more quickly to show that what we have been looking at is actually just a scene inside a snow globe in the hand of an old man. The story of Kane’s dying words and from there we are taken back to Kane’s youth through the innovative use of flashbacks, which are instigated by Thompson as he meets with different people who were close to Kane.

One such flashback begins at Thatcher’s building where the reporter Thompson enters an exaggeratedly large room and begins to read about Kane. This is one of the scenes in which cinematographer Greg Toland’s deep focus technique of filming and use of unique lighting, in which the only light source hits a large standalone table in the middle of the room creates a feeling of...

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