It's been over 10 years since I last saw the film that many proclaim "the greatest ever made." I thought it was about time I revisit it and see if it lived up to the hype.
I'm happy to report that it did. I guess I'm a more sophisticated movie watcher than I was back then, so for that reason I enjoyed this movie now more than ever.
1941's "Citizen Kane" details the life of Charles Foster Kane, an extremely wealthy man who made a name for himself in the newspaper business. The film opens with Kane's death and later his triumphs and tragedies are told through a series of remembrances from those who knew him best. The conduit for these stories is a reporter who is conducting the interviews in an attempt to find the meaning behind Kane's last words: "rose bud."
This film is a straightforward drama with great acting and exceptional directing. Yes, that statement sounds like the description of hundreds, if not thousands, of films that have been made over the years. So what makes "Citizen Kane" so great? Why did the American Film Institute proclaim it the #1 movie ever made back in 1998?
In my opinion, it's the fact that it was so groundbreaking in the way that it was made. This film is full of unique camera angles and movements, innovative lighting, achievements in special effects (matte paintings and makeup for example), tricky techniques to show the passage of time, etc. Again, this is stuff we take for granted now, but back in 1941 it must have been mind blowing. When you combine that with the great performances (by a cast that came from stage and radio backgrounds and were new to films) and an excellent script, and a surprise ending (most people at least know what it is by now) it all comes together even more clearly. And when you consider that the film's star, director, producer, and co-screenwriter was a relative novice to Hollywood (and only 25 years old) when this movie was made, it becomes even that more impressive.
One other note: "Citizen Kane" is fast -paced and not overlong, which many older dramas tend to be. The whole thing clocks in under 2 hours. If you've never seen this film and are worried that it will just be another over-long classic that drags on and on, don't be.
Is there anyone out there that has never seen this movie? If you're answer is "yes" then I will throw myself at your mercy to do whatever it takes (buy - rent - borrow - check out from the library - whatever) to secure a copy of this classic film ASAP and see why it has gotten so much recognition over the years. You'll thank me later.
"Citizen Kane." Is it the best movie ever? When you consider the millions of films out there, the wide variety of personal tastes, etc, how can that question possibly be answered? But I will tell you this: if someone makes that statement to me, I would be hard pressed to come up with a single reason as to why they're wrong.