A reporter researching the final words of newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane interviews those closest to him to try and gain some insight into the man for his obituary piece.
Citizen Kane is a masterpiece. The very fact that it was Orson Welles’ debut makes it all the more so, and I can only assume that his inexperience meant that he didn’t realise that this film could not be done. So he just went and did it. It’s the first true marriage of art and mainstream cinema, and so many of the techniques used here had never even been dreamed of in populist movie making before; the expressionistic use of lighting, naturalistic dialogue in which characters are constantly interrupting and talking over one another, the use of a variety of lenses and composite shots to achieve the perfect composition and a non-linear, disjointed plot structure. It was just unheard of at the time.
Add a remarkable performance by Welles who is completely convincing at every stage of Kane’s long life and a superb supporting cast of – at that time – unknowns and you have a work of ground-breaking genius that has influenced every film that came after. As a piece of entertainment, opinion is of course subjective; not everyone will warm to the story of an unsympathetic egoist who tries to bully and bend the entire world around him to his will, but its achievements from a technical point of view should not be underestimated.
A true landmark and the birthplace of cinema as we know it today.