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“Citizen Kane” Drama Film by Orson Welles Essay

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Updated: May 13th, 2021

Introduction

Citizen Kane is an American drama directed by Orson Welles. He also worked as a producer, screenwriter, and actor in this movie. Citizen Kane won different awards and became a modern classic. Also, it is at the top of the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest American Movies. This work is considered to be the most important American film of all time. Although certain characteristics clearly highlight the brilliance of this movie, some people argue its significance. The main goal of this paper is to discuss the importance of Citizen Kane, regarding several aspects like narrative structure, mise-en-scene composition, and cinematography.

Main body

Citizen Kane’s narrative is very unusual as it has a nonlinear structure. It means that the chronological order of the story is broken. The movie is made up of random memories of the main character (Welles). Such flashbacks give spectators some insight into Kane’s past. It shows how people’s memory works when they want to recall different stories. This nonlinear structure is very important as it helps to create a mystery about the main character.

Also, there is no narrator in this film. Hence, viewers have to do all work by themselves. They are shown different episodes, and they need to put them together to get one comprehensive narrative. There are many clues that help to realize the true nature of the main character. Other noticeable details are the beginning and the end of the story. It starts and ends with a sign “No Trespassing” hanging on a wired fence. It gives viewers an idea that Kane’s life should remain a secret.

Mise-en-scene is another important aspect. The episode in which the main character is talking to his first wife is a striking example (Welles). The use of props and costuming is an element of mise-en-scene that creates an attention-holding atmosphere and displays the polarization of the characters. In the first part, they are very close and look at each other’s eyes, expressing strong affection. Kane decided to stay with her instead of going to work.

However, as their relationship develops, they change the clothes, which become more expensive and tight. The table that was small gets longer, highlighting the distance that occurs between the couple. The director used specific mise-en-scene to create an effect that everything changes very fast. However, in fact, it takes the characters several months to realize their real feelings. The director applied advanced and innovative techniques to pass on his ideas. Therefore, this aspect also enhances the significance of this movie.

Finally, this film is an example of the use of exceptional cinematographic techniques. Citizen Kane presents a “deep focus” cinematographic style. There are not many panoramic scenes. However, the picture constantly changes from foreground to background (Welles). Welles emphasized the deepness of the frame. In order to achieve such an effect, the camera crew applied different technical advancements like mattes and shooting into mirrors.

Also, to enhance the “deep focus” effect, the director combined three different planes. There are various scenes in which viewers can see some objects in the background, middle ground, and foreground at the same moment. Another example of a unique cinematographic style is that Welles arranged to dig a hole in the studio’s floor to shot scenes from a specific angle. All these approaches make this movie stand out in this genre.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Citizen Kane is an excellent piece of art. However, it is impossible to call it the most important American movie because there are many other honorable works. However, the uniquity and the mentioned above small, though significant, details, highlight the importance of this work. Creative techniques that were used to embody the director’s ideas were adopted by numerous filmmakers. Hence, this movie can be rightfully considered as one of the prominent masterpieces of the twentieth century.

Works Cited

Welles, Orson, director. Citizen Kane. Mercury Production, 1941.

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IvyPanda. (2021, May 13). “Citizen Kane” Drama Film by Orson Welles. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/citizen-kane-drama-film-by-orson-welles/

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"“Citizen Kane” Drama Film by Orson Welles." IvyPanda, 13 May 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/citizen-kane-drama-film-by-orson-welles/.

1. IvyPanda. "“Citizen Kane” Drama Film by Orson Welles." May 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/citizen-kane-drama-film-by-orson-welles/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "“Citizen Kane” Drama Film by Orson Welles." May 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/citizen-kane-drama-film-by-orson-welles/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) '“Citizen Kane” Drama Film by Orson Welles'. 13 May.

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