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Greatest movie of all time? Hard to argue

  • Mar 4, 2010
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+5
In 1941 actor/director/writer Orson Welles would release one of the most cherished films to ever hit the silver screen. Many have cited it as the greatest film of all time, and many more agree that Citizen Kane is the quintessential American movie. Like all great films it transcends traditional narrative to become something all its own. The movie almost holds a surreal feel as audiences are thrust into the luxurious, yet lonely life of Charles Foster Kane.

Citizen Kane is a great looking film, no question about it. It's obvious that the sets are fake but the movie uses that to its full advantage. Each of these sets is so exaggerated and ornate that it allows the film to transcend generations. It's a kind of timeless quality that is rarely seen in contemporary pieces. What looked good in this film upon its release still looks good to this day because it is an exaggeration of the American culture, which when someone really thinks about it, hasn't changed much since the time of Citizen Kane's release.

Even more important to Citizen Kane's set designs are the lighting mixed with expert photography. Lighting of Kane becomes the most crucial aspect of discerning his character and foreshadowing his path. Though the dialogue is often brilliant, Citizen Kane seems to have been made with solely the visuals in mind, because it is clear that the story of Kane's rise and fall can be told through the powerful imagery presented throughout the movie.

From being the "voice of the people" through the use of his newspaper (The Inquirer) to giving off the ferocious political campaign speeches clearly inspired by Adolf Hitler, the scope of Citizen Kane never seems to back down in its uncompromising character-study of a man who could never back down. As the viewer follows his path towards self-destruction they realize that this character is not unlike many who still inhabit the country to this very day. When they look at Orson Welles as Kane they can see the type of person everyone knows all too well. Everyone knows about someone who will do anything for love, only to discover he's done all the wrong things. Kane fails in life because he never learns that an emotion such as love can never be bought. Gratitude can be bought, or appreciation, but love requires something beyond the material realm of personal interaction. All these emotional issues are brought to focus by the film's outstanding scope, which is far ahead of its time.

What else stands out about this film? Everyone cites the lighting, directing, and sets, but also one needs to keep in mind: Orson Welles' acting is extraordinary. He can be funny, tragic, compelling, charismatic, and many scenes he is in make-up in order to play Kane through the decades. Surely it is one of the greatest performances ever captured on the silver screen.

So, is Citizen Kane the "greatest movie ever made"? Without much hesitation the answer is yes. Maybe it isn't at times the most entertaining film ever made, but it clearly has the merits that make it worth seeing again and again. This film looks great, its story is full of loose-ends for the audience to solve for themselves, but most important of all is how well the film has aged. There are not many, if any complaints to be had in regards to Orson Welles cinematic landmark.

Citizen Kane remains the undisputed champion of American cinema...

But how is the DVD? Well, in short: the two-disc special edition is a great restoration of this film and includes a great deal of special features. The best of these features is a feature length commentary by infamous film critic Roger Ebert and the other being the documentary "The Battle for Citizen Kane" which is a great overview of the conflict between Orson Welles and communications tycoon William Hearst.

If you truly love movies you'd be a fool not to have this landmark film as a part of your collection.

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More Citizen Kane reviews
review by . October 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Citizen Kane      "Rosebud..."       "Welles's accidental semi-autobiographical film stops trying to tell a good story, but tells a story perfectly."    Is this the greatest film of all time? Well to answer this question we have to understand the type of person who watches this film. When someone out of the blue decides to become a film critic, of course they rummage through various critic's lists and polls', …
review by . August 21, 2010
Hey kid, wanna make a movie?
I think Orson Welles was the greatest creative genius in film who never really reached his full potential.  Having said that, he remains one of the greatest creative figures in American cinema and radio!!!  Since Scotman has done an excellent review about the movie and the plot, I wanted this review to beprimarily about Orson Welles the creative genius and some information on the "back story" about the movie that made his reputation.      After creating a …
review by . August 05, 2009
There are lots of movies we can argue one must see in his lifetime.  Casablanca, Ben Hur, Star Wars, The Godfather, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with Wind... just to name a few, but few stand as high on that list of "Movies you should see at least once," quite like Citizen Kane.  At the time of it's release in 1941, it was hailed as one of the movies which changed the industry.  The reasons why are all but forgotten now.  So all Citizen Kane has to stand on now is it's story, …
Quick Tip by . August 29, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
I think Orson Welles was the greatest creative genius in film who never really reached his full potential.  Having said that, he remains one of the greatest creative figures in American cinema and radio!!!  Since Scotman has done an excellent review about the movie and the plot, I wanted this review to beprimarily about Orson Welles the creative genius and some information on the "back story" about the movie that made his reputation.      After creating a …
Quick Tip by . July 25, 2010
A really classic picture, depicting the attitude of that decade.
review by . February 15, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Best movie ever? It makes its case     Cons: Ending no longer a surprise twist - EVERYONE knows it     The Bottom Line: My favorite movies are still Goodfellas, Lord of the Rings, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.     Whenever some film organization gathers up the list of the best movies ever made, Citizen Kane is the perennial chart topper. It doesn't matter what other movies are on it - Battlefield Earth could rank number 2 and Citizen …
review by . September 23, 2007
And so we come to this, the pinacle of American film making. Often cited as one of the greatest films in movie history, and one that I saw for the first time only about three years ago. Does it live up to the hype?    God, yes.    Much is made, and rightly so, about the technical inovations in this movie. There are many and they are notable. The use of zooms before zoom lenses, the use of deep-focus, the appearance of ceilings, Greg Tolland's wonderful cinematography, …
review by . December 13, 2006
This movie is very over rated and if produced today, it would seem rather humdrum. I believe that this movie is as famous and/or popular as it is because of how the film was made, rather than content itself. Allow me to explain, Orson Welles had a heck of a time bringing his vision to the screen. He faced production problems and funding issues and other thorns in the side. Once he was able to finish the film and the end product was like nothing done before, it was and is placed on a pedestal. However …
review by . August 30, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
I'm not going to weigh in on the silly debates over the merits of this film. All I will say is that I've seen it several times before in theaters with decent to mediocre prints, but I just picked up a copy of the "two-disc special edition" and the transfer is stunning. I have to say that up until I saw it on this dvd I merely "appreciated" the film as important; this time I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the compositions that look so fine on this dvd. Whether or not you like the film, this is …
review by . November 19, 2004
A few weeks ago I had the astounding honor of fulfilling one of my lifelong goals; I met Roger Ebert.    Me and my co-directing friend went to the Savannah Film festival with big cheezy grins on our faces. We were going to have a once in a lifetime opportunity to go through a shot-by-shot question and answer session with Roger Ebert. That in itself was incredible, and more than enough to keep this Alabama boy happy the rest of his days. I have spent the last decade reading his …
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   I'm an aspiring filmmaker who loves the crafts of the cinema. I write reviews as a side hobby.
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Citizen Kane is a 1941 American dramatic film and the first feature film directed by Orson Welles, who also co-authored the screenplay. It was released by RKO Pictures. The story is a fictionalized pastiche of the life of William Randolph Hearst and Welles' own life. Upon its release, Hearst prohibited mention of the film in any of his newspapers. The film traces the life and career of Charles Foster Kane, a man whose career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power. Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story is revealed through the research of a newspaper reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate's dying word: "Rosebud."

Citizen Kane is often cited as being one of the most innovative works in the history of film. The American Film Institute placed it at number one in its list of the 100 greatest U.S. movies of all time in 1997 and again in the revised list of 2007. In a recent poll of film critics and directors conducted by the British Film Institute, Citizen Kane was ranked the number one best film of all time by both groups.

The film opens in a night setting on a vast palatial estate, on which the sign "No Trespassing" is posted. We are in Xanadu, and witness the last word spoken by enormously wealthy media magnate Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles). He utters the word "Rosebud" while holding a glass globe of a snow scene, which ...
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