31 August 2006 | elleglw
why did Citizen Kane create such an impact upon its first release?
Well as a media student myself , i have come across this question many times in books and during lectures. There are simply 3 reasons the film, which was considered as the "Mona Lisa of all films" , created such a legendary appeal upon release in 1941: 1) This was Orson Welles first cinematic debut , even though he had been a huge star in theater , he was given an opportunity few first time directors were permitted to having. He had full artistic freedom and above all power, to direct , produce, write and even star in his own picture. Therefore the film industry and RKO pictures had absolutely no influence in the making of the film and were not to know what was happening on set .Of course this was bound to generate a number of problems as businessmen were curious about the nature and plot of the film , which takes us to the second reason the film caused controversy.
2)One of the main reasons the film posed contentions was because the main character , Charles Foster Kane(Orson Welles), featured a range of similarities with real media mogul and newspaper journalist William Randolph Hurst . Therefore the film was seen as depicting the life , problems and personal relationships of a real person thus fictionalizing his life. Some of the similarities between the two persona's are:
KANE: newspaper tycoon , worked for New York Inquirer , known as the Kubla Khan of Xanadu ,married talentless singer Susan Alexander Kane, he was a political aspirant to presidency by campaigning for governor, bought his wife the Municipal Opera House, Financier Thatcher, and threat Getty's. Hurst: yellow journalist , worked for New York Journal, political aspirant to presidency by becoming governor, married acress Marion Davies, bought his wife Cosmopolitan Pictures, financier JP Morgan , and threat Tammany Hall.
-differences: Susan Alexander Kane( Dorothy Comingdore) leaves Kane later in their life however there was no marriage breakdown for Hurst and Marion.
3) The last reason and most pivotal of all to why the film was regarded the way it was , was due to its technical and stylistic innovations . The film upon its release was misunderstood and unappreciated by critics as they couldn't comprehend many of its elements and were too concerned with its dark and mysterious nature which is one of Welles's characteristics in his films. The film after all was 20 years ahead of its time and was only regarded as a triumphant success upon its second release after the American Film Noir era in the 1950's. His most prominent artistic inventions were: -the low angled camera movements -extreme facial closeups -long uninterrupted shots -chiaroscuro lighting -overlapping dialogue , giving a realistic effect to conversations -subjective camera angles -deep focus shots and depth of field -flashbacks that make up most of the film All the above and more constitute to why the film is so influential to all would be film directors and for why many people regard it as the best film of all time. Lastly we musnt forget the exceptional score by Bernard Herrmann who had collaborated also with the best known director of all time, Alfred Hitchcock , and made him the chillin sounds of strings in Psycho and Vertigo to name a few . In addition the superb photography of Gregg Toland in regards to Welles's unique eye on details. After all he wanted to put in each shot everything the human eye can see if they were present.
There are many areas of the film which are crucial , these are some of the most important , and as you can see there is never too little or too much that you can add to this masterpiece .