Friday, February 12, 2016
Skipping around a bit because I just watched this one tonight. So how did I get so far as a cinephile without ever seeing Citizen Kane? I don't know. I guess because I like shared experiences and I don't usually expect to like things that everyone tells me I should like. I have never enjoyed Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, for instance. But there's a lot of working around that in this project - I can't just say "Eh, it's not my taste" and skip over a film. And I'm very glad I finally got around to watching this one. I already knew Orson Welles was a film-making genius. I was introduced to him in The Muppet Movie, and got somewhat acquainted with him in the constant jokes during Pinky and the Brain. The first real Orson Welles film I saw was The Lady From Shanghai, which is not part of the Project, but is an excellent film noir and deserves a look-see for all you fellow fans. For Citizen Kane, what can I say about it that hasn't already been said? Every film fan knows about its pioneering camera work, the masterful use of aging makeup, the beautiful shots, and everyone in the world knows that Rosebud is the sled. But I guess what's really missed out on is that it's not just a masterful piece of art. It's a good, solid film that holds up even 73 years after its premier. It does weave a complex narrative, it does impress with practical effects, and it does have great performances. Instead of being held up as the peak of innovative cinema, I think more people should just watch it as a movie. It does cast a King Lear-like spell of epic tragedy. The final shots of the headstone-like sled sizzling in the incinerator, only to pull back to black smoke pouring out of the chimney of the run-down palace are haunting. Though I don't claim to understand the shot of the cockatiel. I'll leave that for real film critics to dissect. After years of hearing it discussed, mostly by people who have never watched it, I'd say give it a watch. And be grateful it isn't colorized. Something would definitely be lost in translation in color. This movie is a masterpiece, and not just for changing the way cameras and makeup were used in cinema ever after. It deserves to be watched, rather than just talked about.