Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm Ready To Hate Citizen Kane

Orson Welles. Greatest film of all time. William Randolph Hearst under cover. Blah, blah, blah. Frankly, I’m sick of all the acclaim. Yeah, I saw it before. It was okay. But I think I really liked it because it was so acclaimed so I was ready to like it. This time, I told myself, I’m going to watch it objectively. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about this film. It’s just me and Welles, head to head. And I don’t think I’m going to like it near as much as I did before.

Technical—5/5—Okay, well everyone knows that this is one of the most technically perfect films ever made. Welles had too much time on his hands, that’s why its so great. Look at the camera angles and the lighting, cool. Yeah, but does it really work as entertainment. It must be praised because of its technical precision. Yeah, that’s it.


I forgot what a fantastic actor Welles was. I was amazed by Kirk Douglas’ performance as an irritating man who was fascinating to watch. Welles took it another step. Not only is Welles fascinating, but he is charismatic, likeable, loveable, even. No matter what a jerk he is, no matter how self-absorbed, so matter how irritatingly fly by night he is, you want to like him. You DO like him. If another actor had been the focus of this script, say someone along the caliber of Philip Seymore Hoffman or Meryl Streep, you’d appreciate the work and the acting would be magnificent and you call this a great film, but not an entertaining one. Under Welles at both the acting and directorial helm, though, you are laughing, crying, understanding, empathizing, through every scene with this spoiled brat of a man. I am amazed at this performance, at this character created.

Tension—3/5- This is a biopic and the “rosebud” tactic doesn’t really work to build up tension, nor even much of a mystery.

Emotional—4/5—Yes, yes, okay. I got a little dusty eyed. Perhaps I recognized my own narcissistic tendencies, my own drive to be loved that drives others away. Maybe I recognize my own frustrations at being unable to connect to others that I long for so desperately. But this silly multimillionaire made me gushy inside. Fine. I don’t care. I’m man enough to admit it.

Theme—5/5—This isn’t a film about greed or apathy. That would have been the easy road. Rather it is about loneliness. About the need to make a deep, intimate connection with another. And this is such a universal need, and so often lives are left empty of this, that, amidst all the other reasons is what makes this a great film.

Ethics—5/5—I like the way Kane tries to fill his relational void with many different attempts, but it isn’t obvious that is what he is doing. It looks like a man who has many interests and the money to make it all happen. But in the end it is about the search for love and how we can hurt everyone we know just looking and never taking the time to connect.
Personal—4/5—I am Kane, and at one time or another we all are.

Welles wins again. Dang, this truly is one of the greatest films of all time. It probably won’t make my top ten because I need a lot of room for Pixar and Miyazaki :) but it will be up there, somewhere.

Stop mocking me, Welles. I already said you won!


  1. This film was straight up garbage.

  2. I apologize for your wrongness.

    Of course, the reception of art is subjective, and whether you liked it or not is up to you. But you can't call it "garbage." First of all, it is a well-made film. It isn't "garbage" in a moral sense, or in a technically-made sense. The character development isn't "garbage" and it inspired whole movements of moviemaking, so it isn't "garbage" in the sense of social impact.

    The only way it could be "garbage" is in your personal appreciation of it, but why would you post such a narrow viewpoint on a public wall?

    Oh well, freedom of speech and all that.

    (In case any spammers or trolls are reading, freedom of speech doesn't apply to you. I'll still censor you, happily.)

  3. I never saw a movie as great as Citizen Kane.. I saw it when I was 18 last year.. After I watch any movie I compare it to Citizen Kane and Shawshank Redemption , Godfather, Schindler's List have failed reaching upto the mark.

  4. Citizen Kane is one of the few films on my list of "perfect" films. Of course, that list also includes Schindler's List and The Godfather (as well as Rear Window and Amelie).