During the golden era of films when celluloid was still young, a masterpiece was created in which the director, producer and the main lead were played by the same visionary -Orson Welles. Citizen Kane is one of the most eminent chapters in the bible of film making. A gripping story line that hints of real life occurrences along with path breaking cinematography by Greg Toland, the film that was released in 1941 proceeded to become a momentous success. The film won the Oscar award for Best Screenplay and was nominated in nine other categories for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Black and White Cinematography, Interior Decoration, Sound Recording, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture and Film Editing.
The story bears a canny resemblance to the life of the newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst. The trials and tribulations of Hearst’s life are represented through Charles Foster Kane, the focal character of the film. It depicts the rise and fall of the power of a charismatic individual who would have gone on to become the Governor of New York had he not been caught in a tangled web of controversies. A publishing baron who tastes the zenith of success through sensationalized stories and yellow journalism has his reputation tainted after his scandalous affair with his mistress which is spewed all across the newspapers. From an influential public figure he is reduced to someone who is abandoned by the world and his loved ones and was made to walk as a mortal without who has fallen from fame.
The movie is a visual magnum opus, a kaleidoscope of thrilling camera angles and images that weren’t successfully attempted before. For a film that was made in black and white, Greg Toland set an example for future cinematographers to follow. He perfected the art of using deep focus and extreme low angles in an effective manner that set a worthy paradigm in American Cinema. Not only was the cinematography unconventional but also the star cast of the film that consisted of thespians from Welles’s Mercury Theatre group who made their debut on the silver screen.
Citizen Kane was a movie that was made ahead of its time. Even today, it is included in every teaching plan for students of film making. Nothing would explain the wonders of impeccable direction and cinematography as this film does. It radiates sheer brilliance and audacity as it caricatured one of the most famous personalities in the history of media. Citizen Kane is a movie that reflects the dream of a 25 year old debutante director, one that went onto become a revolutionary classic.
Facts about Citizen Kane
Director: Orson Welles
Release Date: 1st May 1941
Cinematographer: Greg Tolland