script Citizen Kane (1941) by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles.
key points:

"Americana" : American Hero : "The American Experience" [PBS]

What does it say about "USA"?

... 2008: Politics & Movies [ new page @ filmstudy forum ]

Film = Drama and Novel (Epic) : how the two major genres interplay?

Saga :

"Along with the personal story is the history of a period. ``Citizen Kane'' covers the rise of the penny press (here Joseph Pulitzer is the model), the Hearst-supported Spanish-American War, the birth of radio, the power of political machines, the rise of fascism, the growth of celebrity journalism. A newsreel subtitle reads: ``1895 to 1941. All of these years he covered, many of these he was.'' The screenplay by Mankiewicz and Welles (which got an Oscar, the only one Welles ever won) is densely constructed and covers an amazing amount of ground, including a sequence showing Kane inventing the popular press; a record of his marriage, from early bliss to the famous montage of increasingly chilly breakfasts; the story of his courtship of Susan Alexander and her disastrous opera career, and his decline into the remote master of Xanadu (``I think if you look carefully in the west wing, Susan, you'll find about a dozen vacationists still in residence'')." *

... IMAGES 1 & 2

Q & A :

Why Citizen, not Mr.?

... "American Dream" and American Illusions:

``Citizen Kane'' knows the sled is not the answer. It explains what Rosebud is, but not what Rosebud means. The film's construction shows how our lives, after we are gone, survive only in the memories of others, and those memories butt up against the walls we erect and the roles we play. There is the Kane who made shadow figures with his fingers, and the Kane who hated the traction trust; the Kane who chose his mistress over his marriage and political career, the Kane who entertained millions, the Kane who died alone. *

Public and Private : Today Icons

2008 elections : Movies and Politics (class project) for THR334

Textbook, ch. 3 Narrative

* in class discussion : "Citizen McCain"

Comparing Godfather & Citizen Kake

Losers and Winners

Self-made concept : Americana

Trump, McMurphy and Big Lobowski


(c)2005 Film-North

Film-making innovations:

Film scholars and historians view Citizen Kane as Welles' attempt to create a new style of filmmaking by studying the various forms of movie making, and combining them all into one (much like D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation did in 1915). Examination of the techniques used by Welles and his crew reveals elements of expressionism in the use of light and shadow, noting the influence of German and Russian filmmakers. The film is even seen as one of the predecessors of method acting, as seen during the scene where Kane vents his anger at his political opponent, Jim Gettys, at the top of a flight of stairs. (Welles actually tripped and broke his ankle during the filming of that scene, but the scene continued and made it into the final print of the film.)

The most innovative technical aspect of "Kane" is the unprecedented use of deep focus. In nearly every scene in the film, the foreground, background and everything in between are all in sharp focus. This was done by legendary cinematographer Gregg Toland through his experimentation with lenses and lighting. Anytime the deep focus was impossible—for example in the scene when Kane finishes a bad review of Alexander's opera while at the same time firing the person who started the review—Toland used an optical printer to make the whole screen appear in focus (one piece of film is printed onto another piece of film).

Another unorthodox method used in the film was the way low-angle cameras were used to display a point of view facing upwards, thus allowing ceilings to be shown in the background of several scenes. Since movies were primarily filmed on sound stages and not on location during the era of the Hollywood studio system, it was impossible to film at an angle that showed ceilings because the stages had none. Welles' crew used black cloth draped above the set to produce the illusion of a regular room with a ceiling, while the boom mikes were hidden above the cloth.

Ruth Warrick as Emily Monroe Norton Kane in a publicity still from Citizen Kane.One of the story-telling techniques introduced in this film was using a series of jump cuts shot on the same set while the characters changed costume and make-up between cuts so that the scene following the cut would look as if it took place at a time long after the previous cut. In this way, Welles chronicled the breakdown of Kane's first marriage, which took years of story time, in a matter of minutes. Prior to this technique, filmmakers often had to use a long period of screen time to explain the character's changed circumstances. For example, in Erich von Stroheim's masterpiece Greed, the breakdown of the marriage of the main characters takes almost an hour of screen time, even in the most abbreviated cut.

Welles also pioneered several visual effects in order to cheaply shoot things like crowd scenes and large interior spaces. For example, the scene where the camera in the opera house rises dramatically to the rafters to show the workman showing a lack of appreciation for the second Mrs. Kane's performance was shot by panning a camera upwards over the performance scene, matching it with a painting showing the upper regions of the house, and then matching it again with the scene of the workmen.

* history: movies - film - cinema (economics - politics - aesthetics), accroding to Monako.

* 2006 * new (film analysis) pages: eisen & eisenstein, silent, soviet cinema, kurosawa, tarkovsky ....

(Fragment) Kane: camera angle, camera motion and primary motion...

... video-web clips pages

[ ch.2 Bordwell ]


Montage is use for story-within-story (?)

Film History ? "Named the greatest of all films in poll after critics' poll for the past half-century, Kane might by now seem suitable for viewing not through the glass of the movie projector but under glass, in the museum of outmoded innovations." 100 best of the century.


In the middle of everything; film history, movies and films...

jumpcut movie:kane.wmv

Break into shots (comments)

Citizen Kane (1941) Directed by Orson Welles * B00003CX9E
Run Time: 119

Disc 2: Two-Hour Documentary: The Battle Over Citizen Kane, details the power struggle between Orson Welles and William Randolph Hearst.

Arguably the greatest of American films, Orson Welles's 1941 masterpiece, made when he was only 26, still unfurls like a dream and carries the viewer along the mysterious currents of time and memory to reach a mature (if ambiguous) conclusion: people are the sum of their contradictions, and can't be known easily. Welles plays newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, taken from his mother as a boy and made the ward of a rich industrialist. The result is that every well-meaning or tyrannical or self-destructive move he makes for the rest of his life appears in some way to be a reaction to that deeply wounding event. Written by Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz, and photographed by Gregg Toland, the film is the sum of Welles's awesome ambitions as an artist in Hollywood. He pushes the limits of then-available technology to create a true magic show, a visual and aural feast that almost seems to be rising up from a viewer's subconsciousness. As Kane, Welles even ushers in the influence of Bertolt Brecht on film acting. This is truly a one-of-a-kind work, and in many ways is still the most modern of modern films from the 20th century. --Tom Keogh

Citizen Kane is the first feature film directed by Orson Welles (he had directed two short films previously), and is loosely based on the lives of the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, the reclusive aerospace and movie mogul Howard Hughes, and the Chicago utilities magnate Samuel Insull. Welles maintained that the character is a composite of several historical individuals. Internally while it was under production, it was referred to as RKO 281. The film premiered on May 1, 1941. Endlessly discussed and dissected by critics and viewers alike, this innovative film is perhaps the most influential ever in film history. [wikipedia]

Handbook of American Film Genres -- what is "American"?

Citizen Kane in the (Weak).
by Nicholas Coleridge (about Hearst)

These are scenes to look for in the film. They are listed in chronological order.

First scene: "No Trespassing." The camera (and you, the viewer) ignore the sign.
Camera draws closer to the window of Xanadu. The window stays in the same place but it gets closer as you pass many of the items that will be mentioned in the newsreel to come.
Kane's lips say, "Rosebud."
The nurse is seen in the broken glass ball.

"News on the March." An imitation of a typical newsreel such as "Time on the March" that might have been shown in movie theaters around the country.
This is Charles Foster Kane as history might know him.
What is the setting of the movie? What is it you are supposed to be looking at? First we see a bedroom, then a movie about Kane, and then the newsreel stops and suddenly you're in a small screening room. If you feel disoriented and don't know where you are in the movie, don't feel bad. You are supposed to feel out of place and off balance. At any point in the movie you can't tell where you are in the story and do not know how far you are from the end. As a matter of fact, if you should come into a screening of this movie someday, you still won't know where you are in the movie, beginning, middle or end, even if you have seen it before. You are outside time.
Faceless men discuss the newsreel. Mr. Thompson is introduced. The search for "Rosebud" begins. You will never see Mr. Thompson's face.
The camera goes through the skylight during the storm. Early special effects.
Susan Alexander Kane, Kane's second ex-wife, is introduced.
The Thatcher Library. Walter Thatcher is introduced. Thatcher is revered almost as an icon. Note the sunlight that streams down on the table and the caretakers of the "The Book."

Kane's childhood in Colorado. Mary Kane gains the money because a boarder left the deed to a "worthless" gold mine as payment for the rent. The mine turns out to be "the Colorado Lode" and worth millions.
Listen to the mother's voice as she yells, "Charles." It is shrill and harsh. (By the way, that's Agnes Morehead playing the mother. She will become better known as Endora, the mother on the television show Bewitched.

With what does Charles hit Mr. Thatcher?

Kane is raised by a bank "where you can't get at him," Mary tells her husband Jim. What does that mean? Is the father ever mentioned by Kane or anyone else in the movie again? What should you make of this?

What is the Christmas gift that Thatcher gives to Charles?

"I think it would be fun to run a newspaper."

Introduction of Mr. Bernstein. Note Bernstein's description of what a person might remember. It is one of my favorite stories (also Roger Ebert's).
Kane turns against his guardian, Mr. Thatcher, and attempts to destroy him.
Watch for the optical illusion while Kane signs away his ownership of much of his empire. Keep your eye on the window in the back of the room. When Kane is close to Bernstein, Kane appears large and the window seems small. When Kane walks to the back of the room he talks about what has happened to his power. Kane becomes tiny and the viewer realizes that the window is huge. This is a result of the "deep focus" technique of Greg Toland. Because objects in the foreground and the background stay in equal focus, the viewer has no depth perception to tell what is supposed to be close or far away except for the relative size of the object. When the viewer has no idea what the size of the object is, the viewer can be fooled.
"You know, Mr. Bernstein, if I hadn't been very rich, I might have been a great man," Kane says. . . .
"What would you have liked to have been?" Thatcher asks Kane.
"Everything you hate," is the reply.

The first days of the newspaper. Kane says that he wants to make the Inquirer as important to the people of the city as the "gas in that light."

Gas lights will become obsolete very quickly.

Note the Declaration of Principles and who wants to save them.
Leland says that he has a hunch that it will become important like the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence - "or my first report card."
Leland wryly indicates a bit of cynicism.
Watch the portrait of the Chronicle staff as they become the Inquirer staff. It is a great effect, even today.

The birthday party for Kane. Listen for what Kane says about his promises. ,br>Listen to the conversation between Leland and Bernstein about principles and what "we stand for."

Kane marries the niece of the president, Emily Monroe Norton. According to the news reel, Emily will die in a car crash with their son. The fate of these two characters is not mentioned outside of the news reel. Notice how little is said about Kane's son.

Breakfast between the Kanes. It is the beginning and the ending of a marriage in less than two minutes. It is wonderful movie making. At the end Emily is reading the Chronicle.

Kane meets Susan Alexander. Watch for the items on Susan's bureau. You will see the glass ball for the first time. Listen for the reason Kane is out that night. Listen for the reason Susan wants to sing opera. "You know what mothers are like," she says.

"Yes," he replies. Welles says volumes with a look. This scene links the glass ball, Colorado, Kane's mother and Susan Alexander. It is key to understanding why he takes up with Susan.

Kane is campaigning. We see Junior for the only time in the film. The only other time Junior will even be mentioned is by Susan Alexander who thinks Charlie should consider him when dealing with Gettys blackmail.

Emily Monroe Norton Kane meets Jim Gettys and Susan Alexander. Notice who the least important person in the room is. She is merely a pawn for all the other players to manipulate. Notice also how civil Gettys and Norton are to each other. They respect and understand each other more than they respect and understand Charles Kane.

Headline: "Kane Caught in Love Nest with 'Singer.'" What do the quotes around "Singer" mean?

After the election, look for the scene that makes Leland and Kane look like giants as they talk. In order to shoot this scene Greg Toland had to dig into the floor of the set put the camera at floor level. Welles also had to put a ceiling into the set because the camera was shooting up. Kane says, "A toast, Jedidiah, to love on my terms. They're the only terms that anybody ever knows." Where do you think he got this philosophy?

Wedding day: "We're going to be a great opera star."
Note the reaction of the two stage hands to Alexander's opera debut.
Note that the opening of the opera is shown twice. What do you learn during the second that you don't learn in the first?

Declaration of Principles and $25,000 are returned.
"My reasons satisfy me, Susan. You seem unable to understand them. I'll tell them to you again. You will continue singing." Good reasons.
"You don't know what it means when people just don't, the whole audience just doesn't want you," Susan says.
"That's when you've got to fight them," Kane replies. His mother sent him away. Thatcher never wanted him. How does Kane see the world?
See the size of the mansion. Kane and others are dwarfed by the scale of the rooms, especially the fireplace. What does this indicate about Kane?
The small picnic in the country. Note what Susan and Kane say about love.
Note Susan's voice. Does she sound like the mother who yelled, "Charles!" out the window in Colorado?
Watch for the pteradactyls in the picnic scene. A story I read, but can't track down, is that Welles used background scenery from King Kong to represent the swamplands of Florida.
As the Kanes argue there are screams coming from the picnic. The screams seem to be ignored. There is nothing in the world except them. These two are completely self-centered.
The cockatoo screeches. Who does this sound like? Mother? Susan? Susan leaves him.
Kane wrecks the bedroom after Susan leaves. What does he pick up that stops his anger?
Kane leaves the room and passes the mirrors. How many Kanes do you see?
What do you think the director was trying to get you to understand about the movie, or about Kane?

About "Rosebud," Raymond says, "I heard him say it the other time, too." Though Raymond does not appear in the scene, it seems he is the source for the newspaper story about Kane's last word.
Look at the basement of loot. Note the scope of that scene and imagine that there had to be somebody who had to set the stage for that scene and place key bits of props from earlier scenes where the camera would pick them up for the audience to see.
Listen to Thompson's remarks about finding "Rosebud" and what it would say about a person's life. Do you agree?

Find "Rosebud." Well, are you satisfied or not? Now recall what Thompson had just said about finding "Rosebud."
The secret of "Rosebud" goes up in smoke. What else will never be known about Kane?
Last scene: "No Trespassing." What is the director trying to say?


What does this movie say about a person's life? What does it say about what we read in the newspapers or see on television about people's lives? Whose point of view do you not have in this movie about Charles Foster Kane?

Trace the references to Charles' mother or mothers in general throughout the movie. How many do you have and what do they say about the other characters and what motivates them. For instance, what did Charles' mother have to do with his affair with Susan Alexander?

Why do you think the mother wants to get Charles out of Colorado? Kane states, "If I hadn't been rich, I might have been a really great man."

What do you think he means by this? Do you agree?

You are the best friend of Charles Foster Kane that you can be. Choose a crucial time in his life when you would advise him. What time in his life would you choose and what would you advise him to do?

Kane states, "A toast, Jedidiah, to love on my terms. They're the only terms that anybody ever knows." What is your reaction to this statement? Do you agree with it or not and why?

[ ]

A History of Narrative Film
Book by David A. Cook; W. W. Norton, 1996 : 10. Orson Welles and the Modern Sound Film -- ... But Welles' greatest single technical asset in the filming of Kane was his brilliant director of photography, Gregg Toland (1904-48). Toland had earned a distinguished reputation as a cinematographer in Hollywood in the thirties and had experimented with deep-focus photography and ceilinged sets in his three most recent films, Wuthering Heights (William Wyler, 1939), for which he had won an Academy Award, The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 1940), and The Long Voyage Home (John Ford, 1940). Welles (or Mankiewicz) had conceived Kane as a film which occurs largely in flashback as characters recall their acquaintance with the great man (played by Welles himself) after his death, and he wanted the narrative to flow poetically from image to image in a manner analogous to the process of human memory. Thus, Welles used straight cuts largely for shock effect and made the most of his narrative transitions through lingering, in-camera lap dissolves. More important, Welles planned to construct the film as a series of long takes, or sequence shots, scrupulously composed in-depth to eliminate the necessity for narrative cutting within major dramatic scenes.

film history *

From Cinema
SCRIPT online: Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles




Window, very small in the distance, illuminated.

All around this is an almost totally black screen. Now, as the camera moves slowly towards the window which is almost a postage stamp in the frame, other forms appear; barbed wire, cyclone fencing, and now, looming up against an early morning sky, enormous iron grille work. Camera travels up what is now shown to be a gateway of gigantic proportions and holds on the top of it - a huge initial "K" showing darker and darker against the dawn sky. Through this and beyond we see the fairy-tale mountaintop of Xanadu, the great castle a sillhouette as its summit, the little window a distant accent in the darkness.



The literally incredible domain of CHARLES FOSTER KANE.

Its right flank resting for nearly forty miles on the Gulf Coast, it truly extends in all directions farther than the eye can see. Designed by nature to be almost completely bare and flat - it was, as will develop, practically all marshland when Kane acquired and changed its face - it is now pleasantly uneven, with its fair share of rolling hills and one very good-sized mountain, all man-made. Almost all the land is improved, either through cultivation for farming purposes of through careful landscaping, in the shape of parks and lakes. The castle dominates itself, an enormous pile, compounded of several genuine castles, of European origin, of varying architecture - dominates the scene, from the very peak of the mountain.



Past which we move. The greens are straggly and overgrown, the fairways wild with tropical weeds, the links unused and not seriously tended for a long time.




Of the Hagenbeck type. All that now remains, with one exception, are the individual plots, surrounded by moats, on which the animals are kept, free and yet safe from each other and the landscape at large. (Signs on several of the plots indicate that here there were once tigers, lions, girrafes.)



In the foreground, a great obscene ape is outlined against the dawn murk. He is scratching himself slowly, thoughtfully, looking out across the estates of Charles Foster Kane, to the distant light glowing in the castle on the hill.



The idiot pile of sleepy dragons. Reflected in the muddy water - the lighted window.


The boat landing sags. An old newspaper floats on the surface of the water - a copy of the New York Enquirer." As it moves across the frame, it discloses again the reflection of the window in the castle, closer than before.


It is empty. A newspaper blows across the cracked floor of the tank.



In the shadows, literally the shadows, of the castle. As we move by, we see that their doors and windows are boarded up and locked, with heavy bars as further protection and sealing.




Over a wide moat, now stagnant and choked with weeds. We move across it and through a huge solid gateway into a formal garden, perhaps thirty yards wide and one hundred yards deep, which extends right up to the very wall of the castle. The landscaping surrounding it has been sloppy and causal for a long time, but this particular garden has been kept up in perfect shape. As the camera makes its way through it, towards the lighted window of the castle, there are revealed rare and exotic blooms of all kinds. The dominating note is one of almost exaggerated tropical lushness, hanging limp and despairing. Moss, moss, moss. Ankor Wat, the night the last King died.



Camera moves in until the frame of the window fills the frame of the screen. Suddenly, the light within goes out. This stops the action of the camera and cuts the music which has been accompanying the sequence. In the glass panes of the window, we see reflected the ripe, dreary landscape of Mr. Kane's estate behind and the dawn sky.



A very long shot of Kane's enormous bed, silhouetted against the enormous window.



A snow scene. An incredible one. Big, impossible flakes of snow, a too picturesque farmhouse and a snow man. The jingling of sleigh bells in the musical score now makes an ironic reference to Indian Temple bells - the music freezes -

The camera pulls back, showing the whole scene to be contained in one of those glass balls which are sold in novelty stores all over the world. A hand - Kane's hand, which has been holding the ball, relaxes. The ball falls out of his hand and bounds down two carpeted steps leading to the bed, the camera following. The ball falls off the last step onto the marble floor where it breaks, the fragments glittering in the first rays of the morning sun. This ray cuts an angular pattern across the floor, suddenly crossed with a thousand bars of light as the blinds are pulled across the window.

The foot of Kane's bed. The camera very close. Outlined against the shuttered window, we can see a form - the form of a nurse, as she pulls the sheet up over his head. The camera follows this action up the length of the bed and arrives at the face after the sheet has covered it.


FADE IN: projection room


shot-by-shot analysis -- in class/homework (?)

online video? -- Kane 1/12

... storyboarding?

Why "dissolve" and "fade" instead of CUT? (our sensitivity) : GLOSSARY OF FILM TERMS
NOTE: The terms and their definitions are largely drawn from Bordwell/Thompson's Film Art or Monaco's How to Read a Film

1. diegesis
in a narrative film, the world of the film's story. It includes events that are presumed to have occurred and actions and spaces not shown onscreen.
diegetic sound
any voice, musical passage, or sound effect presented as originating from a source within the fllm's world. See nondiegetic sound.

2. dissolve
a transition between two shots during which the image of first shot gradually disappears while the image of the second shot gradually appears; for a moment the two images blend in superimposition.

3. fade
fade-in: a dark screen that gradually brightens as a shot appears.
fade-out: a shot gradually darkens as the screen goes black (or brightens to pure white or to a color