The face of Hollywood is a seemingly ever changing thing and yet some of the facets have remained the same: celebrity and scandal can vastly overshadow the talent and achievements of a person in the spotlight, certain figures receive almost worship-style attention and it is such a different world it seems almost unreal. One of the most iconic Hollywood films of all times shows this off in a rather incredible way that had never been seen before and may never be truly matched. That film is Citizen Kane.
There are some very major reasons why this film is seen as a timeless classic and if you haven't seen the film before, you should go without delay. When people go on about how this film was a revolutionary one for its time, it’s nothing short of the truth. At a time when studio giants would almost always have a strangle hold on creative control on the films released at the time, Orson Welles bucked the trend majorly as a 25 year old first-time film director, co-writer, main actor and producer who retained creative control over Citizen Kane. He got the golden opportunity to make the film he wanted to make. Whilst some would’ve initially argued this was wasted as it was a box office flop at the time of its release, it’s re-release in the mid-1950s and the subsequent years have transformed this film into a timeless classic revered by many currently in the industry. These facts on their own makes this film something that has to be seen.
It’s little wonder this film has been the subject of much analysis and discussion since its release in 1941 and it’s even less of a wonder that this film catapulted Orson Welles into a film-making legend after he had successfully gripped the world in theatre and acting. Whilst this is an old film the themes Citizen Kane explores from wealth to political power, scandal to loneliness are still issues ever present in modern society and politics. In a world where money seems to dominate and rule. even the elected representatives, it would appear that there are still things the powerful have failed to learn. Whilst wealth can provide endless riches and material good, very little actual good seems to come from it for Kane. He may have inherited a failing newspaper company and transformed it into a media empire but he dies alone and unhappy surrounded by objects that provide no joy into his life. Kane is a character that has it all and yet has nothing emotionally at the end of his life.
We could write an entire dissertation essay about Citizen Kane and the merits of it. This is a film that offers far more than most films since can dare to dream of. It’s not a film everybody is bound to love but it is still a must see for everyone.