In 1941, Orson Welles released an absolute masterpiece, unquestionably one of the greatest films of all time. Telling the story of newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane through a reporter’s investigation into the meaning of his last word before dying, “Rosebud”, Citizen Kane employed radically new forms of cinematography, mise-en-scene and storytelling techniques. The film was an artistic combination of techniques that was something no one had ever seen before, and even to this day are striking and captivating.
Personally, I was especially intrigued by the noticeable angles in many shots. Many scenes employ extremely low-angle shots, that allows the audience to see even up to the ceiling. These low-angle shots were often used when displaying powerful figures, like Kane himself. It makes him look bigger and intimidating, whereas weaker individuals are shot from high-angles to symbolize their lowness. Aside from this interesting symbolic effect, the low-angles make the settings much more interesting. Spaces seem immense with magnificent ceilings and interesting perspectives.
Another impressive aspect of the film is its use of make-up. Kane is shown throughout the film in different ages, from a boy to a young man, to an adult and as an elder. Given the film is 75 years old, I was amazed by how the artists were able to make Welles age so convincingly. Kane’s entire body and face aged flawlessly and convincingly.
These are just two elements that struck me most, but frankly, the entire film is filled with amazing, innovative, and radical techniques. Aside from being an interesting and entertaining story, watching this film is essential if you want to truly understand and appreciate film art. I could not recommend it enough.