On my first viewing, I found Citizen Kane enjoyable but somewhat dull in parts. On a second viewing, it won me over and didn’t bore me in the slightest. Tight and focused, imaginative and inventive, it’s a film that impresses with the beauty of its shots and innovative techniques.
Today it’s easy to forget quite how innovative parts of Citizen Kane were, but even 70 years later one can still ascertain that it’s a superior film of the era. The story is relatively simple – a young child’s parents come into money and he is sent away to avoid his abusive father. He gradually becomes the all-powerful Charles Foster Kane, newspaper tycoon. The rest of the film details his descent into materialism and corruption, and subsequent downfall. The mystery of “Rosebud” is present throughout, and is revealed subtly (and somewhat devastatingly) at the film’s climax. Kane wasn’t, it turns out, quite as materialistic and unfeeling as was thought.
The performances are strong (and Dorothy Comingore’s meltdown over a bad review is pretty hilarious), and the make-up strikingly believable – Orson Welles, here as a 25-year-old, doubles up convicingly as the aged tycoon, in self-imposed exile at his private mountain mansion Xanadu.
My advice for those who found Citizen Kane dull or unimpressive on first viewing would be to watch it again; it’s a striking piece of work and a significant film in cinema history – as well as being an entertaining story.