|Starring||Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore|
This screening is part of our December celebration of The News in Cinema!
It's become a sort of dry truism that CITIZEN KANE is the greatest film of all time. It's so ubiquitously cited and referenced as the pinnacle of cinematic achievement that it's easy to just write it off. Maybe you've known the secret behind Kane's dying word, "Rosebud," since you were a kid or maybe you've just seen a million excerpts, homages and parodies of fat old Orson Welles that you think you can get by in life without actually sitting down and watching CITIZEN KANE ever again. We don't blame you. It's easy to take for granted. But something incredible happens when you do take the time to sit and watch it. Your eyes widen, the hype fades away, and you realize that it really is the greatest film ever made. Watching CITIZEN KANE in the twenty first century is still an impossibly exciting and transformative experience. Time has done nothing to diminish KANE's power.
Welles' perversely grandiose portrait of a larger-than-life tycoon, based loosely on the life of William Randolph Hearst, follows its central character from working-class hero to failed political powerhouse to reclusive newspaper baron. However, the story is as much about the unknowable enigma at the heart of any public figure (or any human being) as it is about the specific psychological bruises and childhood yearnings that make Kane who he is. Structured largely around the fragmented recollections of supporting characters, the film explodes preconceived notions of how time and narrative are represented in cinema while decrying the seductive, corrupting nature of power in America. It's so rich with themes and ideas that there's no easy way to do it justice.
You'd think that a movie that's been so influential, so widely analyzed and discussed, would have had all the life and vibrancy sucked out of it, it's ability to surprise entirely diminshed. The most surprising thing about CITIZEN KANE is that it actually lives up to its own myth.