Citizen Kane

Jeffrey G

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I've never seen this movie, but reading on the Forum makes me want to make a blind buy and get this one. People talk about this one like it's one of the best ever. Is it that good? I read the back of the DVD box and didn't get a lot of info. about it. What is it about, generally?
Is it a Blind Buy or not?
Thanks for your input.
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Greg_Y

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It's darn good. Whether or not it's the best film ever made is a simple matter of personal taste. But it's definitely worth seeing at least twice. Therefore, I say buy it. If you don't like it, sell it or trade it.
 

SteveGon

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By all means, get this dvd!

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He thought on homeland, the big timber, the air thin and chill all the year long. Tulip poplars so big through the trunk they put you in mind of locomotives set on end. He thought of getting home and building him a cabin on Cold Mountain so high that not a soul but the nighthawks passing across the clouds in autumn could hear his sad cry. Of living a life so quiet he would not need ears. And if Ada would go with him, there might be the hope, so far off in the distance he did not even really see it, that in time his despair might be honed off to a point so fine and thin that it would be nearly the same as vanishing.
-- Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain
 

Dome Vongvises

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Citizen Kane, inspite of all the great cinematic praise it gets, can be enjoyed at face value, so don't get daunted by such high expectations.
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"I don't know, Marge. Trying is the first step towards failure." - Homer J. Simpson
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You asked what Citizen Kane is about. Okay, here goes:
Charles Foster Kane is an incredibly rich American, the head of a business empire which owns a string of newspapers, mines, etc, etc. The film begins in the early 1940s (i.e. contemporaneous with when it was made) with Kane's death (from natural causes), and his enigmatic dying word, 'rosebud'. A reporter is sent by his editor to interview all those close to Kane to discover what this word meant. Through the interviews and flashbacks, we discover a great deal about the earlier life of Kane and what led to his final lonely state, but we seem no nearer to discovering what 'rosebud' means, until the very end of the movie...
As to why you should see it, I think the other posts have done a great job. The only think I'd add is to get the DVD and, having seen the movie, watch it again with the Ebert's commentary, which will point out many of the innovative features of the movie.
One thing which nobody seems to comment on is how nobody ever guesses what 'rosebud' is about until the final scenes. This must be the one movie where you really can't work out the mystery until the end.
 

BrianKM

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One thing which nobody seems to comment on is how nobody ever guesses what 'rosebud' is about until the final scenes. This must be the one movie where you really can't work out the mystery until the end.
Except for the fact that there are so many references to it in pop culture. I remember finding out what Rosebud was from a Ghostbusters cartoon when I was ten. Enjoyable film, but I too do not see why it is called the greatest movie of all time. I could watch it a few more times, take notes, etc., but I think I'll just have Ebert spoon-feed it to me tomorrow. God bless DVD.
 

juergen raatz

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Hi Jeffrey!
The problem with Citzen Kane is, for me, that the film`s
story seems a little bit dated today.
The formal aspects of that movie are without any
flaws. It is truly a masterpiece, great actors,
a great script, and truly amazing camera work.
But for an audience today, the storyline is not that
exciting. You got a rich man, who tries to be a
great politician, then you have a big scandal, then you
see his social fall. All this with a very (but
nevertheless incredible good) complicated and
"time-switching" (many flashbacks) storytelling.
But, if you are a true film enthusiast
you have to see it. Like Battleship Potemkin or
Lawrence of Arabia. It is one of those
unique masterpieces of cinema history.
Maybe, for my taste, not for the story,
but the formal aspects.
greetings
juergen
 

Morgan Jolley

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I saw the Godfather relatively soon after seeing Citizen Kane, and then saw Godfather 2, so my memories of this movie aren't too great. Even so, I remember it being good, even without the trick ending. The cinematography, the writing, the acting, the lighting, the direction, everything was spot on. Plus the movie was good. Thats probably why its the best film ever (in American history).
 

Jeffrey G

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Thanks, guys.
I'm going to give it a spin.
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Seth Paxton

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1) Gregg Toland is BY FAR the greatest Cinematographer of all-time, really. This is one of the finest examples of his work. One of his more famous creations/perfections was the use of wide, deep-focus lenses (also helped by a higher speed film), and there are plenty of examples here.

2) Since it's a TRUE story, only slightly veiled by some artistic license, it has a true ring to it.

3) It is perhaps the finest example of a narrative acting both to tell a story and to act metaphorically for deeper meanings. One of the best examples is the way we start with a shot of the Kane property fence with a no trespassing sign on it. We return to that at the end of the film. It's symbolic of the journey to find the inner-workings of Charles Foster Kane, who that character really was. No one has been allowed in to that inner-Kane world when the film begins, and in the end no one has yet begun to understand or reach those depths still.

Only the audiance sees what made that man and the tragedy is that inside the film world no one ever got to know him. I think we can all feel that fear, the fear of never really being understood, but rather being some ambigious surface character to everyone around us.

And every scene, every shot, is concious of this narrative goal. It is a duality that many narratives fall far short of maintaining. Kane is soaked in it.

Toland/Welles also used wonderful clever whip-pans, lightening cuts, etc. to great effect.

4) Welles, great director that he was, is an even better actor (see Third Man, Touch of Evil for examples). This film lets him flex his muscles quite a bit.

5) Look, if that's not enough just watch the film and enjoy something clever like the foreshadowing cut scene when the newspaperman says "It will probably turn out to be quite simple."...lightening crash (boom). Every device is used just as well as that, serving the film rather than just being showy.

6) Did I mention how awesome Gregg Toland is?? IMHO he has only 1 visual narrative rival...Hitchcock.
 

Dome Vongvises

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It's good to know that you're taking a chance at watching this movie. Don't try too hard to understand all the hype and praise put on this film. Instead, just try to simply enjoy the movie for what it is. Trust your film tastes and initial feelings. Then, when you've enjoyed it for fun on first viewing, subsequent viewings will later reveal why Citizen Kane is one of the greatest movies ever made.
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Jack Briggs

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Calling Citizen Kane the greatest film ever made is most certainly not a matter of "personal taste." There are certain objective cirteria by which films are judged. And it just so happens that Citizen Kane comes out on top when all those criteria are factored in.
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Robert Crawford

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1) Gregg Toland is BY FAR the greatest Cinematographer of all-time, really. This is one of the finest examples of his work. One of his more famous creations/perfections was the use of wide, deep-focus lenses (also helped by a higher speed film), and there are plenty of examples here.

Seth,
You got that right! What a shame that this cinematic genius died so young at 44 years old. The following is a list of his most celebrated films:
[*]Come and Get It[*]Dead End[*]Wuthering Heights[*]Intermezzo[*]The Westerner[*]The Grapes of Wrath[*]The Long Voyage Home[*]Ball Of Fire[*]The Little Foxes[*]December 7th[*]The Outlaw[*]Song of the South[*]The Best Years of Our Lives[*]The Bishop's Wife


Crawdaddy

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Jerry Gracia

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I bought the CITIZEN KANE DVD last week based on all the things I read about it here and there, I had never seen the movie before.
I must say...it was a very intriguing film. I want to see it again.
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george kaplan

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I love Citizen Kane and think it's one of the greatest movies of all time, but not the greatest.
However, now that I know
There are certain objective cirteria by which films are judged. And it just so happens that Citizen Kane comes out on top when all those criteria are factored in.
I'd like to take those criteria and recalculate my list of best films. We already know that Citizen Kane is number 1, but I'm curious as to what #2 is.
So please give me the list of criteria so I can do this.
Thanks.

P.S., shouldn't we be able to build a computer program to use these criteria? Think of all the money we'd save on critics.
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Dome Vongvises

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"There are certain objective cirteria by which films are judged."
I'm in a film class right now, and we use a book called, Film Art: An Introduction. It is by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson. Maybe that's a good start for finding objective criteria on evaluating movies. The book certainly does go into depth on Citizen Kane.
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Jack Briggs

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Here are some objective criteria:
* direction (as in, how good?)
* cinematography (ditto)
* story/script/plot/dialogue (dittor again)
* significance as a film (i.e., does it break new ground, does it push the state of the art? CK sure does)
* characterization/character development, etc.
* acting/performances
* cinematic technique (CK broke new ground vis. mise en scene)
* and on and on...
In addition, there are some ineffible qualities (ambiance, how atmospheric the film is, etc.).
Citizen Kane, as a result, ends up in the top five or ten--mostly likely at the very top itself. None of this means you have to like the film--but one must accept its greatness.
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TheoGB

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Hmm.
Well the criteria may be 'objective' but the answers are not. I take it you were being somewhat tongue in cheek in your original post.

You cannot objectively say Citizen Kane wins out in any of these.

If you were being 100% serious then I pity you, as you no doubt do me.

Theo
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