Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Citizen Kane - Movie Review

Touted by most as the greatest Hollywood film of all, this 1941 film is the multi-faceted Orson Welles masterpiece on the life and times of a newspaper baron who has everything and loses everything - Charles Foster Kane. The way Orson Welles made this movie itself is a great movie story - he made it at 24, directed and acted in it, got complete creative freedom from his producers with his cast and crew and many other technical aspects of film making and made it roar. The movie itself is told in a unique manner. Of course it is 1941 and it is black and white.

The movie starts with an old man dying alone in a seemingly ostentatious palace called Xanadu. From his hand slips a bottle of crystal and his last words are 'Rosebud'. His death is followed by a long documentary that lists the life of Kane, the newspaper moghul who made an enormous fortune, contested for Governor, and lived life by his terms. However despite his enormous wealth that is reflected in his Xanadu, a palace like building he builds for his second wife, he dies alone and unhappy. The crew making the documentary decides that it does not do any justice and is not spicy enough and decide to investigate what  or who Rosebud was. The reporter meets many people close to Kane - his family, friends, business associates and finds out that Kane was a much larger and bigger personality than they portrayed him as. Taken away from his family when he was young, Kane grows up as an intelligent, ambitious and witty man who listens to none but himself. His first marriage falls apart when he falls in love with a singer. His dalliance with the singer costs him the election. Subsequently even she leaves him, lonely, and rich, craving for love.

The movie takes on different emotions and by the end of the movie you start sympathising majorly with the brash and boisterous Kane. The cast is mostly first timers apparently and it shows in their jerky movements or slightly exaggerated movements, but it is a strong story and it holds your attention. Welles as Kane is brilliant, acting the ageing Kane to perfection. Amazing maturity for a 24 year old. In some quirky way it is a story you will never forget, though you may not want to watch it again and again because of its intensity. I suspect that this is why it is rated so highly (the non-technical version of mine) - the style of telling the story, the hook of 'Rosebud', the gradual unraveling of the man that was Kane and the build up to the final emotions when you are left on a high emotion . I don't know what it is, but I never thought of the movie so highly as I watched it, but having watched it, its scenes, characters and even dialogue remain deeply etched. You don't need anymore to slot it into the great films category. Watch it if you have not yet.


Rajendra said...

I saw it a few years ago..very good. Its impact may be even higher on a big screen.

Harimohan said...

Apparently his use of angles and light were unique apart from his style of story telling. Nothing can beat the big screen impact surely. But even then, as a story, I don't think I'll ever forget it. That's something you cannot say for a lot of movies.