Netflix Project: Citizen Kane (1941)

Spoilers ahead. Beware.

The default favorite movie of critics everywhere, Citizen Kane stars Orson Welles in the title role as a famous newspaper baron. When he utters a single word, “Rosebud…” with his dying breath, a reporter is assigned the task of finding out what the heck he meant.

What follows is a stunningly filmed, wonderfully acted journey through the life of Kane. The use of light and silhouette is striking, the sets are gorgeous, and the make-up is fantastic. It’s easy to see why Citizen Kane is hailed as such a technical pioneer in the industry.

That being said, I wasn’t blown away by the story. I was impressed by just about everything except it, in fact. The script, penned by Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz, is greatly aided by Welles’ direction. It’s not bad; it’s not even weak. It’s perfectly solid. But it’s just not… well, spectacular. When the most remembered line from your movie is a single word, it seems perhaps an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay might be a win in the wrong category. Amazingly, it lost out in the eight other categories in which it was nominated, including Best Actor, Best Film and Best Cinematography (Black & White).

Nonetheless, it’s certainly a film worth watching for anyone interested in film, even if your only motivation is to have an opinion on it when it inevitably comes up in movie buff conversation.

Favorite line: “Rosebud. Dead or Alive. It’ll probably turn out to be a very simple thing.”

EDIT: I forgot to mention that my first knowledge of the whole Rosebud legend came from this episode of The Real Ghostbusters. I’m equally amused and annoyed by this. On one hand, I appreciate the somewhat clever tribute. On the other, I’ve known since the age of 8 or 9 that Rosebud is simply a sled, which kind of ruins the mystique.

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