The film Citizen Kane directed by Orson Welles was released in 1941, and it immediately attracted the attention of many critics. In particular, they noticed innovative cinematographic techniques and narrative methods (Giannetti, 2013). This paper is aimed at discussing the reasons why Citizen Kane was different from other films released at that time. Overall, among the most innovative elements of this movie, one can single out the use of deep focus and non-chronological plot. Yet, there are other remarkable techniques that distinguished this film from other movies. For example, one can mention sound effects. These are the main questions that should be examined more closely.
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At first, it is important to mention that that the film is based on the non-linear plot (Booker, 2011, p. 72). For instance, at the beginning, the viewers learn about the death of the main character. Initially, the audience does not know anything about this person. Later, they can follow the investigation carried out by the journalist Jerry Thompson. The film-makers uncover the story of Kane’s life and his struggles. Different characters can tell the audience more about the character traits of the protagonist. The story switches between the past and present, and one can examine Kane’s behavior from different perspectives (Giannetti, 2013). At that time, this approach to story-telling was not very widespread. In most cases, the plot was developed in a chronological way. Yet, Orson Welles chose the non-linear approach, and later this method was emulated by other film-makers. This is one of the aspects that should be considered during the analysis.
Additionally, this movie was renowned for its cinematographic techniques. In particular, one should speak about the use of the method which is known as deep focus (Nanemore, 2004). This technique includes specific choice of lenses, compositional style, and lighting (Nanemore, 2004). This method ensures that the foreground and background of the scene remain within the focus of the camera. This approach enables the film-makers to direct the viewers’ attention. Moreover, the audience can better capture different details of the scene.
Apart from that, the director chooses a more realistic approach to the composition of the scene. For example, he uses specific angles to show the ceiling. The movies, which were released before Citizen Cane, did not include this element. As a rule, the view of ceilings could be obstructed by microphones and cameras. The main problem is that such settings were too unrealistic. Furthermore, the cameras had to be placed only at certain angles. Therefore, the resources of film-makers were very limited. In turn, Orson Welles decided to depart from this tradition.
Finally, Orson Welles uses a different sound-editing technique. According to the conventions existing at that time, a character could start speaking only at the time when other people were silent (Gilett, 2008, p. 58). In contrast, Orson Welles makes the voices of characters overlap each other (Gillett, 2008, p. 58). This argument is particularly relevant to the scene that takes place in the boarding house (Gillett, 2008, p. 58). This approach to sound editing is more realistic, because in real life, people do not follow stage conventions. For instance, they can often interrupt one another. This approach was more productive. These are the main innovative elements that can be singled out because they influenced the work of other directors.
Booker, K. (2011). Historical Dictionary of American Cinema. New York, NY: Scarecrow Press.
Giannetti, L. (2013). Understanding Movies. New York, NY: Pearson Education, Limited
Gillett, P. (2008). Movie Greats: A Critical Study of Classic Cinema. New York, NY: Berg.
Nanemore, J. (2004). Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane: A Casebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press.