Rating: 4/4 (Epic tragedy)
Citizen Kane, the classic movie starts off in 1941 with the death of the newspaper millionaire Charles Foster Kane. The last word on his deathbed is rosebud. A reporter decides to find out the significance of Kane’s last word. So, he starts visiting the people and places of Kane’s life. This collage of flashbacks of his youth to his death forms the movie.
Kane is born with a silver spoon in his mouth and at around age 25 decides to take over a newspaper, The New York Inquirer. He at first binds himself to principles and to serve the public with news. Later, as his riches amass, he takes a shot at politics and he wishes his principles away. He has two unsatisfactory marriages, one to the niece of the President and the second to a young wannabe singer. He spends his last days building a palace on a hill (ironically) named Xanadu, but never gets to finish it. His life is filled with success and riches, but sadly wrecked with emptiness. And in the very last minute of the movie the viewer finds out what is the rosebud!
Citizen Kane is directed by Orson Welles and the camerawork is by Gregg Toland. I found the movie to be a bit too long and too serious for my taste. The main character of Kane is epic. His life of riches and sadness has been depicted well by Welles (the director himself). But, the most stunning aspect of this movie is the camerawork. From the very opening scenes showing Xanadu, this movie is a pure visual treat! Innumerable kinds of light and shadow play and compositions infuse life into the movie. Toland is truly a genius, for this is in 1941 and shot in B&W. I find it mesmerizing even today, more than half a century later. Citizen Kane has been called the greatest American movie ever made! I would not agree with that. But, the camera angles, the broad sweeps of the canvas, the interlinking story lines, all make this is a tragic movie that is not to be missed.