WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The story of Charles Foster Kane. When oil is discovered on property owned by his mother, Kane is spirited away to become the ward of a billionaire magnate. As a rebellious young man, Kane confounds his fellow billionaires by buying a small newspaper, which he uses to attack the very strata of society that has made him rich. He turns one newspaper into a media empire, eventually running for Governor before being disgraced by his affair with a dance-hall girl. From there, Kane becomes an even more powerful media baron, but along the way loses his soul, resulting in a broken man who dies alone after whispering the word ďRosebudĒ. But what is Rosebud? A group of newsreel reporters, intent of digging up the juicy truth behind his dying word, try to find out by interviewing his past friends, lovers, and enemies. From there, the truth behind Kaneís tragic rise and fall finally becomes obvious.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
CITIZEN KANE is something that every real film fan is obliged to see. In 1941, the notion of film as art wasnít as advanced as it is today, but Orson Welles, already a household name for his radio dramas (including the infamous WAR OF THE WORLDS) and re-stagings of Shakespeare, saw the potential of making more than simply entertainment for the masses. Unheralded in its age (itís incredible to think that the only Oscar Kane won was for its screenplay) KANE is now, rightfully, regarded as one of the essential works of cinema, and possibly the best film ever made.
More than seventy years later, CITIZEN KANE still hasnít lost any of its power, and if youíre really serious about film it demands to be seen several times. I try to watch it once a year, as itís the kind of film that recharges my batteries anytime I start to question my path in life. Itís such a work of absolute passion that it canít help but inspire me every time I see it.
Itís worth saying that KANE, despite its lofty status as ďcinemaĒ is far from a stuffy art film. Rather, itís an incredibly entertaining yarn about how absolute power corrupts absolutely. It can also be appreciated as a piece of pop art, as it used a lot of the multi-media techniques of its era, specifically the newsreel, to tell its story in a way no other film had really attempted up to that point. It says so much about the era it was made in, and so much about the nature of man- yet, incredibly, itís a super brisk film (the editing was cutting edge for 41) that doesnít even run two hours. Wellesí storytelling economy was towering.
Everything that was on the 3 disc Ultimate edition in here, except the excellent HBO movie, RKO 281 (starring Live Schreiber as Welles) that took up the 3rd disc of the earlier set. Kicking things off are two audio commentaries , one featuring former Welles bosom buddy Peter Bogdonovich, and the other, an essential appreciation by Roger Ebert. Rounding out the first disc are archival interviews , newsreel footage of the premiere , and an examination through the use of production & post-production stills of the film by Roger Ebert- complementing his commentary.
The REALLY interesting supplement here is housed on a separate DVD. THE BATTLE OVER CITIZEN KANE is an incredible PBS documentary that juxtaposes Wellesí life, with that of William Randolph Hearst, who was the model for Kane. Hearst tried to bury the film and destroy Welles, and their ugly battle is examined. In a sad irony, the film, more than anything else, reveals how Welles himself eventually came to personify Kane more than Hearst ever did, and how CITIZEN KANE, while triumphant, really did destroy him in a way. Itís a fascinating watch, and every time I put on KANE, I follow it with this, as itís an essential companion piece.
CITIZEN KANE on Blu-ray is nothing short of essential. If, unimaginably, you havenít yet seen it- you need to buy this RIGHT NOW. Heck, even if youíve seen it and somehow didnít like it at first, you still must buy it, and watch it over and over again till you finally come to love it. Itís quite possibly the greatest film ever made, and as much of a timeless work of art as something like the MONA LISA.