Citizen Kane

USA, 1941, G, 119 min. Director: Orson Welles. Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Everett Sloane, Agnes Moorehead.

Still number one after all these years... Of course the thing to note is not that the critics all voted it the best film of all, but that it scored the highest number of critics who voted it one of the best. And given that subtle distinction, I'd have to agree. When you consider some of the melodramatic fluff that was being passed off as greatness in those days (Gone With The Wind, anyone?), you can begin to get some idea of just what a milestone Citizen Kane was. On a first viewing it might seem rather ordinary—it did to me—but the second time around it stands revealed as a revolutionary work in its style, its story, its sense of truth. (A bit too true for William Randolph Hearst, the Murdoch of the time—he was none too pleased with its portrayal of a media magnate's rise and decay.) There are more memorable and mimicked moments in Citizen Kane than I could mention here, but I'm a particular fan of the scenes set in Kane's opulent mansion—one of the best realisations of a Kublai Khan-style pleasure-dome in cinema.

It makes me green with envy to think that I'm now older than Welles was (25) when he made this. If you're not an aged creatively-burnt-out has-been yet, get in quick and see Citizen Kane before you are—it just might inspire you to similar greatness. If you're in the same boat as me you probably know by now that Citizen Kane is a film worth seeing again and again.


First published in a reviews booklet of the ANU Film Group.
This page: 31 January 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1994, 2000 Rory Ewins