Citizen Kane review


Citizen Kane was an excellent film with innovations in its camera work and story structure. The whole story is told in flashbacks by many other characters throughout the film recalling Kane’s life. I haven’t seen many films of this era in classical Hollywood cinema, where more than one narrator was used. Usually there would be one narrator to tell the story in a third person point of view. This just shows how unique and innovative the direction of this film went on to become. The film’s story begins with the death of the main character Kane. It is very interesting how this approach to storytelling was taken when compared to the traditional linear method of following the story in chronological order.

Another observation I made when watching Citizen Kane was the popular use of low angle shots in scenes. There is something about low camera angles with film that can make you feel a certain way. Low angles can be used to show a figure that is in a more dominant position than the other. For example, a scene where a regular citizen is speaking to a policeman would commonly show the policeman on frame with a low angle to establish authority, compared to a regular citizen which would be shown in a high angle or leveled mid shot. But instead, the film Citizen Kane seems to use low angles mainly for the beauty sake of cinematography. When using low angles the audience sees different aspects of a stage or setting. I found multiple scenes in which low angle shots were used and revealed so much more to the eye than a standard master shot. In these low angle shots, the point of view can fit much more of the setting into the picture, such as the ceiling or sky. When the ceiling or sky is revealed in your shot it gives the audience a more precise visual depiction of the atmosphere and conveniently can make a setting more eye-popping regardless of the setting’s nature.

The editing of Citizen Kane was well constructed and seemed to do its best to create the “seamless look”. The movie takes advantage of many parts of the setting’s stage to complete a transition from one camera shot to the next. I thought it was humorously made obvious in one particular scene in Citizen Kane, where Kane enters a room while speaking to another gentleman. As Kane stumbles upon what seemed to be a pipe hanging straight down the ceiling and interrupting Kane’s conversation. As it is made obvious that the pipe is obscuring their path, the gentleman and Kane both walk distinctively around the pipe and about midway through completing the walk-around the camera shot transitions to another angle completing the scene in a match on action method new for its time. The editing alongside the film’s brilliant costume and make-up design also achieved the look of manipulating space and time. For instance, the film was able to create a sense of years going by in only a matter of a few minutes. The staging looked like it was done keeping the same set but only changing the actor’s appearance through makeup and camera dissolves. Although primitive and simple when looked upon today, the fact that it is noticeable and the message gets through to the audience makes up for the risky innovation in cinematography, truly remarkable for the production crews behind it.


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