Citizen Kane is the work of boy genius Orson Welles. Welles, never one to shy away from controversies, uses his film to ridicule the materialism of individuals as they chase for the ethos known as the American dream. In an interview conducted in the 1960s Welles even commented; “I must admit that it was intended, consciously, as a sort of social document — as an attack on the acquisitive society.”
Citizen Kane is now regarded as one of the greatest films of the 20th century, that has revolutionised cinematography forever, but this was not always the case. Upon its release in 1941 it was a movie surrounded in controversy. The movie itself was nearly destroyed forever due to the narcissistic tendencies of the media magnate William Randolph Hearst who is most famous for allegedly starting the Spanish American War. Along with Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, Hearst dragged the film and the name Orson Welles through the mud and condemned any who showed the film at their theatre, or wrote about the film in a positive light. However he did not do this simply because he did not like the themes of the film, he did this because he believed that Welles based Citizen Kane off of him and had the intent of slandering his ‘good’ name. Welles had always denied that Citizen Kane was based off Hearst saying that Hearst himself simply just fitted the “Kane profile.”
Citizen Kane aims to show that even those with the most morally righteous intentions can end up being corrupted by money and power. Kane was once a poor, innocent boy living in Colorado. He did not have much, but he seemed happy. In the scene where Kane’s parents are adopting their son to Thatcher, we see them placed in the foreground. Mrs Kane believes she is doing the right thing by abandoning her son… (“That’s why he is going to be brought up where you can’t touch him.”) but this abandonment impacts Kane significantly for the rest of his life and eventually leads to his ultimate demise of dying alone with nothing but his material possessions to comfort him. In the background of the shot you see young Charles innocently playing in the snow shouting ‘union forever’ as his childhood is signed away. Charles is framed by the window highlighting that he is the subject. This technique is known as ‘deep focus’. Gregg Toland, the movies head cinematographer, spent hours working extensively to perfect these shots.
Kane goes from the picture of innocence, to a voice for the powerless to a tyrant who craves nothing but money and power. At the beginning of the film Kane uses his power for good. He buys a newspaper and he swears to look after those who are powerless with no voice (“…..because they haven't had anybody to look after their interests...”) Perhaps Kane feels the need to protect the powerless as no one protected him when he was young and powerless. Kane wants to become a voice for the people. The catalyst for the beginning of Kane’s transformation comes just after his first marriage to Emily, the...