Critical study of texts
Citizen Kane is a film predominantly about a man whose past becomes manifested in his present and future. He is tragically torn from his parents as a child and this separation leads to his inability to love or be loved as an adult. He develops into an arrogant and egotistic character whose desire for power and success forces him to become independent and he dies a failure as a private man.
The form of the film – a newsreel followed by the investigation into Kane’s life through interviews, by a reporter in search of the meaning of Kane’s last word, ‘rosebud’, with five people who knew him – makes a very effective portrayal of…. The flashback technique is the film’s chief ‘modus operandi’. The flashbacks begin in the newsreel, which deals mainly with Kane’s public life but they are more commonly used in the interviews with Susan, Thatcher, Bernstein, Leland and Raymond. These interviews are interlocked and overlapped to give a ‘mosaic’ view of Kane’s life and present us with as much as we are going to learn about the inner man.
Through the newsreel we learn how Kane sacrifices himself to power and success. “Greatest newspaper tycoon of this or any other generation.” He becomes a successful public figure and a household name. The magnitude of his achievements is huge. Consequently, the success in his material life goes hand in hand with the failure in his spiritual and emotional lives. The newsreel style expose on Kane’s life cleverly serves not only to provide us with a visual précis of the character’s story, but also whets our appetite for the drama about to unfold.
The technique of deep focus is adapted in the film. It is carried out by using faster film and wide-angle lenses, allowing the cinematographer to achieve composition in depth. This means that images in the foreground and background can be held in focus and exaggerating the relative scale of objects can create the illusion of perspective. This suits Welles’ purposes in telling the story of a larger-than-life character like Kane.
It is through the interviews that we truly find out about the private life of Charles Foster Kane. We learn that he is a man inevitably on the way to a spiritual doom. He emerges as a self-centered man who is driven solely by his ego, “he didn’t believe in anything but Charlie Kane”. He lives an arrogant life, tries to buy happiness and thinks that he has all that life has to offer.
It is important to note that all through the film there is a strong sense that everything is occurring on sets, as indeed it was. The film was almost entirely shot in studios, making much use of models, backdrops, lighting and lenses. This strong feeling of artificiality is quite appropriate and is symbolic of Kane’s life, which like his possessions is ironically lifeless.
However, Kane’s attraction towards power, success and independence is directly related with his treatment in the past. As a child, he is forced to leave home and is...