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Citizen Kane September 2, 2006

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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I’ve been waiting a long time to rent this movie out. Given the fact that this is considered almost unanimously to be the “greatest American motion picture of all time”….was enough of a reason to watch this. But also the fact that this was made 65 years back held me back because I was pretty confident that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy watching this. I took the risk now that I can bitch about it here if I didn’t like it. Anyways, I watched it with very low expectations and at the end of it…I was very impressed. Also, considering that it was made in 1941 I was even more impressed. To classify this movie into a genre…it should qualify to be a biopic but the way the plot unfolds it could be classified loosely as a thriller too.

The movie begins with a documentary feature on a certain Charles Foster Kane – who is a megalomaniac newspaper baron…and covers his entire life. When this lasted for more than 5 minutes, I almost believed that this was a documentary and was heading for the net to read about it to confirm….when the documentary ends and the actual movie begins. It happens that a group of reporters are watching this documentary and are fascinated with the last word uttered by Kane on his deathbed….which is “Rosebud”. Now, one of the reporters is on a mission to figure out what “Rosebud” meant. He begins by talking to people who knew Kane very closely one by one. Each of them narrates his/her story with Kane which is shown as a flashback and directs the reporter to another person who they think would probably know what Rosebud meant. This is how the story progresses and ultimately in the end you do get to know what Rosebud is. This kind of narrative is what impressed me the most. I generally find biopics very uninteresting but when the screenplay is so gripping, it does compel you to sit till the end. I can say that this is a way to trick people to sit through a biopic (like I was).

After watching this, I read about this movie and found more interesting things. The character of Kane is apparently based on a certain publishing tycoon called William Hearst and Howard Hughes (I would agree with this as the characterization of Kane had similarities with Howard Hughes as portrayed in The Aviator). Orson Welles who wrote, acted and directed this movie had his image tarnished so badly by Hearst that Welles’ career almost ended. In fact, during the Oscars that year whenever the name of this movie came up there were loud boos from the audience…that was the kind of negative image which was created in the people’s minds. On the whole, this is a movie which people of any generation would find interesting to watch. Go for it.

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