Wasp’s review published on Letterboxd:
The news goes on for 24 hours a day.
Nearly 70 years ago, an insolent little genius at almost thirty shoots a film based on the life of media mogul William Randolph Hearst and benefits from the most prominent contract ever signed given to a director from Hollywood. The studio is the RKO, the little genius is here Orson Welles. This film that still haunts cinephile's minds is Citizen Kane. Cinema never fully recovered since then.
"No trespassing". A gate. The letter "K". A fortress. Darkness. A room. A dying old man. A cabin in the snow. A last breath punctuated by a mystery, " Rosebud ". Death.
The following is obviously known by cinephiles; it belongs to history, where Citizen Kane is not only a chapter but a genuine gravitational centre.
There is a before and an after for this production: Kane is not only a comprehensive piece of work during Hollywood classicism but also remains a starting point for modern cinema.
A talented newcomer during disturbed conditions of these times in a booming country had to make his directorial debut with utter freedom. An unlikely set of circumstances allowed O. Welles to embody this lightening rod as this ideological lightning strike of the 20th century prevails.
The film can't keep from adressing society issues: a feature about power, its alienation, childhood, abandonment, death, old age, friendship, couple's life, its alienation, art, cinema, medias and their related perversions, politics, ideological vision, capitalism and its apparent logic and senselessness. Yes, Kane is a dizzying and visionnary parable of our times.
With this film, Welles gave a double slap to Hollywood. First, he showed that cinema needed to keep renewing itself by breaking out of the existing models hence rendered obsolete the cinematographic tradition. Secondly, he provided a real masterpiece as a independant film d'auteur, cursed and far from cost-effective - because of the negative campaign conducted by Hearst himself- contradicting the unrealistic morality saying a good film has to be successful.
At the time where the concept of auteur began genuinely to spread out in Europe, Welles put it literally into practice in the US: not satisfied with the position of filmmaking (director, productor and co-writer), he is also the leading role, Charles Foster Kane, including his own body in the process.
Hard to write about this film after numerous texts and analysis were made. Harder to talk about it properly. Unfortunately, the film itself suffers from its own status: a lot of people consider it like a school film, an essential phase for anyone interested in the 7th art. A shame really, considering Kane released cinematic narration by opening field depth, invented various special effects that enriched editing, trivialised the use of flashbacks hence expanding storytelling opportunities. Because of its innovative nature, the film manages to deliver a captivating story about fates ruined by a singular one of a man left abandoned since his childhood. A man who doesn't know how to use his power and forgets his principles.
A true gem that manages to remain still relevant nowadays, about power of the press and the never-ending conflict between happiness and money.