Darcy L. Mott | 10/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had no intention of writng a review, but after reading several I couldn't stop myself.It seems like most of the people here are falling into two camps, the "Film Snobs" and the " Folks whose brains have been rotted by MTV, etc..." The comments of the"MTV people" seem to be typified by this quote I picked from out of many bad reviews: "Maybe you intellectual, artsy types go for this, but give me Star Wars any day!" Where the "Snobs" counter back with:"I cannot think of another film which so challenges the viewer time and time again. I still pick up little nuances, incredible effects and camara angles, and overlapping dialog on subsesquent showings. Gregg Toland's camerawork is justifiably among the most memorable in film." Oh boy!I, of course believe Citizen Kane is a great film, but I believe both sides in this argument are missing the point.I really wish those who defended this movie spoke about it in human terms, rather then talk about the camera work, or Welles' age or it's "impact" on film history.It is great because (if you let it)it will tell you a deeply emotional story.It is no accident that the very first and very last image of the film are the same. A locked gate with a sign that says,"No Trespassing." For in this movie, Kane is a guy with a virtual "no trespassing" sign around his neck. He is a man who wants so deeply to control those around him, to FORCE them to love him, that he allows nobody close. He essentially locks out all hope of love! Give it a chance...don't expect Star Wars. Pay no attention to the camera work and special effects, they are beside the point. Welles is talking about the very saddest, deepest, loneliest part of us all...you might find something to relate to....if you are patient."
A vanguard motion picture
flickjunkie | 06/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Probably the most unfortunate thing that ever happened to `Citizen Kane' was that it found itself atop the AFI top film list. Now, no one can simply enjoy the film. Everyone feels compelled to scrutinize it and make a decision about its greatness. Asking whether `Citizen Kane' is the best film of the century is like asking if Marilyn Monroe was the most beautiful woman. It depends on whom you ask.`Citizen Kane' is not the most entertaining film I've ever seen, but it is certainly one of the most important. It is a vanguard motion picture and a gargantuan achievement for Orson Welles. If you consider the fact that Welles was a 24 year old Hollywood outsider who had only done radio and theater when he landed the contract for this film, you begin to appreciate what a big deal it was. This was during a time when a few studios controlled every film that was made. How many 24 year old actor/directors can you name today, even in a world where independents abound?The story is based on the life of William Randolph Hearst. Writer Herman Mankiewicz had an up-close look at Hearst as he had been an occasional house guest at the Hearst mansion. The similarities were striking, right down to the paramour whose career Hearst promoted, who loved to do jigsaw puzzles. The fact that this film was released at all is a marvel in itself. Hearst went on a personal campaign to crush the film and enlisted every powerful friend he had to stop it. Louis B. Mayer offered RKO $800,000 to destroy the print. John D. Rockefeller ordered the Radio City premier cancelled. All of Hearst's newspapers were forbidden to mention the film. Hollywood was uniformly against it and Welles was branded an insolent maverick. The film was snubbed by the Academy. It was nominated for 9 Oscars and won only best screenplay. The film turned out to be a commercial failure, losing $150,000. With all the forces stacked against it, we are lucky to be having this best film debate at all.The story has a simple moral; that money and power can't buy happiness. We see Kane's progress from a happy child, to an idealistic young journalist intent on helping the common man, and finally to a bitter and angry old man whose innocence has slipped from him. One of the most effective scenes that illustrated this was the two minute overlay of breakfast conversations with his wife. It starts with cooing lovers and progresses through increasing levels of discord. It ends in silence with the two reading separate newspapers, her disdain for him subtly indicated by her choice of the hated Chronicle as her newspaper.What is so remarkable about this film is the filmmaking. Director after director has pointed to some aspect of this film as having influenced them. The use of shadows and various perspective shots was not unprecedented in 1941, but never before had they been used with so much dramatic impact. What was unprecedented was that `Citizen Kane' was the first film ever to depart from the strict narrative format, which moves forward chronologically. The film starts at the end and jumps around in time based upon the perspective of the person who is telling his or her story about Kane. So the next time you see a flashback, remember it started here. The makeup was revolutionary. Welles often went through four hours or more of makeup to be properly aged for each scene. The film also launched a number of brilliant careers. Besides Welles, Joseph Cotton and Agnes Moorehead went on to long and prominent film careers.If `Citizen Kane' is not the best film of the century it is certainly one of them. Its influence on a generation of filmmakers cannot be ignored in the equation. People who watch this film and ask, "What's the big deal?" are comparing it with modern films that have borrowed from this film's techniques and undergone 60 years of evolution. It's like going back to Kitty Hawk and saying, "What's the big deal, the flight only lasted a few seconds."There is only one rating to give to a film of such monumental importance. It is the consummate 10."
Don't Buy this Version
Darcy L. Mott | 06/04/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Don't buy this version of Citizen Kane. 1.) Two of the DVDs come stacked on top of each other, something Warner Brothers (the makers of the regular and collector's version) highly do not recommend. 2.) Hairline cracks: my first copy came with hairline cracks in the feature disc and with severe cracks in one of the supplemental discs; my second copy came with hairline cracks in one of the supplemental discs; again Warner Brothers themselves warned me not to play a disc with hairline cracks. 3.) Within 5 minutes of buying this version the glue on the box failed and it started to fall apart.
I thought the problem was with Warner Brothers, but they disowned any connection to the gold version. Save yourself the headache and just get the special edition version and not the Gold."
It really is a great movie!
Darcy L. Mott | 12/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have just been going through the poor reviews of this film, and I would like to respond. (1) If you approach this film as the greatest movie of all time, you are bound to be disappointed. With expectations that high, what film could possibly match up? Expectations are everything. I try very hard to be noncommittal when recommending a movie I love to my friends so that they can approach it with limited expectations.(2) The film is 60 years old. If you dislike black-and-white, or are unwilling to make some adjustments for older styles of acting, etc., it's not for you.(3) I don't think it's a very lovable film. It is simply not the kind of old movie that sweeps us away emotionally like, say, Casablanca. We watch these characters from outside; we're not really invited to empathize with them much.
It's not surprising that those reviewers who cite Gone With the Wind as the greatest American movie, with all its romance and emotion, are outraged that the AFI selected Kane over it.(4) We all have our favorite movies. Saying one movie is the "best" is a silly sort of game anyway. I'd bet that most of the 5-star reviewers could name movies that are as much or more a personal favorite than Kane.... I can not think of a movie that I think is superior to Kane in craftsmanship.(5) Yes, Kane does take concentration and alertness to follow. One of the key motifs is a jigsaw puzzle, and the film is definitely constructed that way. To those who love it, the intricate structure is a source of endless enjoyment. But if you just want to kick back and let the movie do all your work for you, this is not the film.To sum up, I first saw this movie several years ago, with extremely high expectations, and felt let down. I received the excellent DVD for a Christmas present. I approached the movie with lukewarm expectations based on my previous experience and was totally knocked out! It truly is a brilliant film, but try to approach it as just another movie. Forget all the "best American movie"... If you are the sort of person who is able to appreciate a 60-year-old, black-and-white movie that is emotionally cool but artistically stimulating, you're in for a treat!"