Criterion Predictions #200: Citizen Kane, by Alexander Miller
Title: Citizen Kane
Director: Orson Welles
Cast: Orson Welles, Dorothy Comingore, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Paul Stewart
Synopsis: After the death of infamous and controversial newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, journalists tirelessly search for the meaning behind his last word, “rosebud.” In doing so, they uncover a plethora of stories about a man whose grand ambitions and desires were unrequited despite amassing a fortune, international fame, and treasures from around the world.
Critique: Every so often, whether I plan on watching them or not, I’ll grab every Welles movie I own off the shelf, put them in a pile, set them down next to the couch and rifle through them. If it’s a Criterion release I’ll thumb through the essays, read the synopsis on the case, look at the box art, and mull over the enigmatic career, and personage that is Orson Welles. If anyone asks which is my favorite, or which movie is Welles’ best, I’ll never be able to make up my mind, with so many varying aspects to his body of work it feels impossible to land on a definitive movie. But after seeing The Other Side of the Wind last year something came to light. Its mixed media meta-textual construction feels leaps and bounds ahead of its time (whether you’re talking 1970’s or present-day), but it’s actually a consistent Wellesian thread going back to his debut feature, Citizen Kane. The film’s episodic, non-linear structure; the integration of newsreel, stock footage, and staged footage; the level of technical ambition in Citizen Kane is unparalleled, and there are enough subtly dazzling camera techniques, editing and lighting tricks in the films two opening scenes that would not only set the tone for the entirety of Citizen Kane as well as Welles’ varied career.
Why it Belongs in the Collection: It’s Citizen Kane.