This 1941 movie is said to be the best movie ever made. It is the first feature film of Orson Welles, who was 24 years old at the time and who also portrays the main character.
The movie’s plot is given in fast points in the first five minutes in what I thought was an interesting part, a documentary about the life of late Charles Foster Kane. It is then revealed that Kane’s last word was “rosebud”. So the documentary’s team decides to suspend release and they set forth to investigate what Kane meant by that word.
Charles Kane was a poor child born to a family who owns a boarding house in Colorado. Adopted by a rich man, he soon turns rebellious against his guardian and does not seek any of the many riches bestowed upon him – except a newspaper acquired through foreclosure. Soon enough, Kane turns this newspaper into an empire, with the main goal of fighting for the voices of those whose voices have been suppressed. Kane marries the niece of the US president and soon enough, his pursuit of power begins.
Welles delivers a chilling performance as the man who makes himself by himself and then takes it all away, brick by brick, watching everything tumbling down around him. His wife leaves him soon after she finds out about his affair. Later on, she dies in a car accident with his only son. He marries the singer with whom he had the affair and she ends up leaving him too. Soon enough, the vastness of the empty castle (Xanadu) he builds for himself doesn’t even compare to the emptiness he feels inside and he spends the remainder of his life wishing upon the memories of when he literally had nothing except his snow sled, his childhood – the only time where he was really happy, deeply addressing the issue of “does money buy you happiness?”
While watching the movie, you cannot but be drawn to the intricacy of the details. The cinematography is exquisite, the sound editing, etc… are all top notch. It’s no wonder why this movie was thought to be twenty years ahead of its time. The story itself is also a representation of American Capitalism at the time and it is executed really well.
At the time of its release, Citizen Kane was not recognized, awards-wise, as much as we bestow upon it today. It might have been for political reasons. It is said that Charles Foster Kane is a biographical representation of real life newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst, who had his ways around Hollywood and sought out to stop the movie from being released.
But now to the million dollar question… is Citizen Kane the best movie ever made? I would say no. Ask me what is the best movie ever made and I would say I don’t know. Sure, Citizen Kane is revolutionary in every movie aspect but many movies have also been revolutionary. However, it remains a fine example that being showered with awards does not necessarily mean the movie will linger in people’s memories. The Hurt Locker anyone?