Film Analysis

October 21st, 2010

Citizen Kane was released in the year 1941. Its production was began in 1940 and was completed by 1941. It was produced and released by RKO Pictures. It remains one of the greatest movies ever made and is known as the masterpiece of all the movies directe by Orson Welles. There is no doubt that the movie is loosely based on the live of William Randolph Hearst, who during the late 1800s and early 1900’s was  a leading newspaper publisher and a magnate much like the main character of the movie Charles Foster Kane. I choose to analyze the scene where Charles Foster Kane is having a conversation with Thatcher.

The scene is shot in a medium shot as well as a mise-en-scene. At first sight the scene seems to be focused on Thather and Kane, but on closer  inspection we can see that there is action going on in the backround. Being the audience we have the choice of watching the individual in the background or focusing on Kane and Thatcher. Orson Welles collaborated with Greg Toland in making the unique cinematography in this movie, this scene is not as obvious but nonetheless is an example of Tolands modified lense which allowed for a greater depth of field. Another thing to notice in the scene is that Kane remains sitting at the center and doesn’t move, rather the individual aroung him are moving. The individuals being, Thatcher who is speaking to Kane, later on in the scene Kane’s best friend Jedediah Leland and business manager Bernstein enter the scene.  Kane is then seen surrounded by Thacther, Leland and Bernstein, but neither of them is seen on the same plane that he is in, even Thatcher who is in front of Kane is at an angle to Kane not face to face with him.

The scene portays Kane at the center of the scene and one gets the feeling that he is surrounded by them. This is prominent theme in the movie as Kane is always surrouned by his friends, fame and success. Regardless of all this he is alone and has no one is in the same plane as him, this is literally shown as everyone moves around him incessantly and he stayed seated. No one seems on the same plane as him due to the camera angle. In the beginning of the movie he is shown to be taken away from his mother. Later on he gets married, but he that relationship breaks as well. He has a good friend but he loses him as well. He is involved in an affair which like his other relationships also breaks regardless of his desperate atttempt to keep it together. All throughout the movie he has never had a lasting relationship and this is very prominently shown in the  stark  yet subtle cinematography by Toland. In the conversation two notable things are mentioned. One being that Bernstein informs Kane that the reporter, Wheeler, they sent to Cuba telegraphed saying that “Girls delightful in Cuba. Stop. Could send you prose poems about scenery, but don’t feel right spending your money. Stop. There is no war in Cuba, signed Wheeler,” and Kane replies “Dear Wheeler: you provide the prose poems. I’ll provide the war.” William Randolph Hearst was known to have said something similar and was also known as inciting the Spanish-American War. Another notable dialogue that occurs in this scene is when Thatcher tells Kane “still the college boy aren’t ya” to which Kane replies “Oh no Mr.Thatcher I was expelled from a lot of colleges.”  This is another instancce where Orson Welles ties the Hearst to his character Kane, as Hearst was also expelled from Harvard.

The theme of the story of Kane losing everything he has and always being alone, even when with friends and loved ones he is always seperated is a ongoing theme in the story and this scene like a few other portray this theme , forming an interesting analogy between theme and visual effects. The historical significance is also evident in the scene as it ties the fictional character Charles Foster Kane to whom he is loosely based on, William Randolph Hearse. The Cuba event occured in the late 1800’s due to Hearse shrewd use of yellow journalism. In this scene there is also an foreshadowing of Kane losing his assets as when he argues with Thatcher that if he loses 1 million dollars a year on his newspaper he could run it for sixty years. 

This scene does an excellent job in accomplishing the theme, historical reference using the formal elements as well as dialogue. Orson Welles has done a superb job in putting so much detail and significance in one scene and making scenes like this and others memorable and filled with ideas when scrutinized.

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One Response to “Film Analysis”

  1. bing on May 13, 2020 10:54 pm


    Film Analysis at Media Studies 144

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