2 May 2004 | Cowman
CITIZEN KANE may let some people down, but it's still worth seeing.
It's a difficult undertaking for someone of my generation to watch a film like CITIZEN KANE. Not because it's "too old" or "too boring", but because it has been hailed--almost universally--as the single best motion picture ever made. And while the anticipation of seeing a film with such overwhelming acclaim may be quite exhilarating, actually watching it is ultimately an intimidating and somewhat disappointing experience.
This isn't to say that I thought CITIZEN KANE was a bad film; in fact, I thought everything about it was downright brilliant. From the enchanting performances right down to the meticulously planned camera movements and clever lighting tricks, there isn't a single element of CITIZEN KANE that isn't a stunning achievement in all areas of filmmaking.
CITIZEN KANE's storyline is deceptively simple. Even though the plot unfolds by jumping in and out of nonlinear flashbacks, it is surprisingly easy to keep track of. The straightforwardness and relatively fast pace of the story are what make it seem intimidating. Because everything moves smoothly along without any standstill, it feels like we are being fooled-like there is something much greater that we just can't seem to grasp. As a first-time viewer, I knew from its reputation that there must be *something* that separates this movie from all the others; something buried within its simple plotline that everybody else has seen, but that I just could not seem to get a handle on. And then, during those final frames, that something was revealed, and it all began to make sense. To me, it was these moments of confusion and uncertainty followed by a sense of enlightenment and appreciation that made watching CITIZEN KANE such a meaningful experience.
But no matter how great of a movie CITIZEN KANE really is, it can never live up to one's expectations. Although I do feel that it is deserving of its acclamation, the constant exposure to its six decades worth of hype and praise will invariably set most modern viewers' standards at a height that is virtually unreachable--even if it really *is* the best movie of all time.