|DVD Review: Citizen Kane
Crooks, Independent Movie Critic
I know what you're thinking:Well, you know what? Citizen Kane is worth it's weight in
gold, and then some.
"EVERYBODY thinks Citizen Kane is the best movie of
Every movie critic is quick to jump on the Kane bandwagon
and praise it. It's the 'HIP' thing to do."
This week Citizen
Kane was released on DVD, as a two disc special edition
(linked in the sidebar). This isn't just going back and
re-watching a master piece. This DVD is like going back in
time. The disc features two commentary tracks, my favorite
by Pulitzer Prize winning film critic Roger Ebert, the other
by Orson Welles biographer Pete Bogdonovitch. Ebert's commentary
points out the details of this masterpiece, and helps anyone
to see what makes Citizen Kane so great.
So what's the "masterpiece" about?
Quite simply Citizen Kane is a tale about the life of newspaper
giant Charles Foster Kane: from Kane being taken from his
mothers as a boy, do his death bead. Everything, every decision,
in his life seems to be a reaction of being 'stolen' from
his mother. Kane is painted in an unfavorable light of 1940's
publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst, and Citizen Kane.
Hearst was so upset with the film, and it's obvious reflection
of his life, that he did everything in his power to ensure
that Citizen Kane never saw the light of day.
"The Battle for Citizen Kane," the two hour Oscar
Nominated documentary, is on disc two and tells the tale
of Hearst's battle with the public, the film studio, and Welles
over Kane. It's a very fascinating movie in and of itself,
as it describes the controversy of Orson Welles, Hearst and
American Politics of the time, and Hearst's attempts to crush
Citizen Kane. One of my favorite sections of this disc
shows rare footage of Orson Welles reading his now famous
War of the Worlds radio broadcast.
The film Citizen Kane itself is preserved beautifully in the
digital format, and has never looked better. Watching the
film this week for the first time in many years, I noticed
that there are just as many special effects in Kane as there
are in, say, Star Wars. Ebert even points this out in
his commentary track. And the beauty of Citizen Kane is that
it is still as revolutionary today as it was in 1941. Welles
broke old Hollywood 'rules' while filming (the way he used
focus and lightening, among others), and his brilliant technique
is unparalleled even today. I continually found myself amazed
at the visual style of Welles.
The commentary tracks also talk a lot about the visual
style, and Ebert's track especially tells of the significance
of what images on the screen meant to the audiences that watched
Kane in 1941. Another important thing to remember, is
that at the time, Welles was given a contract that was unheard
of. He was only 26, and was given absolute total control to
make his film. The studio couldn't edit a frame, and Welles,
was able to bring his vision exactly how he wanted to. It's
also amazing to think that Kane was shot on such a tiny budget.
Citizen Kane has been named the Number One movie ever made
by the American Film Institute, and is a true classic in every
sense of the word. DVD is a great format for this film,
bringing out Orson Welles' style better than any VHS tape
I've ever seen. The extras on the disc are also amazing, featuring
an original trailer for the film (even the trailer seems to
'Un-Hollywood' and revolutionary), the 1941 Movie Premier
Newsreel, a gallery of Welles' storyboards, photos, and other
If you consider yourself a movie lover and have never seen
Kane, now is your chance to take it all in with the DVD format.
If you like films that are a little different, you'd be amazed
at how well a 1941 film holds up today with such movies as
'Pulp Fiction,' 'Memento,' and other time line-bending films.
So do yourself a favor - skip laying down another eight
bucks for a mediocre movie at the local cineplex, and
go to your nearest video store and rent a real American Movie
classic (then go into depression thinking, "Welles did
this at 26, and all I'm doing is [insert mundane job description
here]." Sigh. . .
Crooks, Movie Critic
Just so you know how I rate my movies:
||Rush out and see this movie immediately
||See this movie soon, but on your own time
||See this movie at a matinee or with a free pass, save
a couple of bucks
||Video store or cable TV special
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