Citizen Kane Like a number of Orson Welle's other films, Citizen Kane begins with the end--the death of Charles Foster Kane. In his final moments of life, the old Kane holds a small crystal globe containing a miniature scene that flurries with artificial snow once shaken. With his dying breath, he utters the word "Rosebud." Then the glass ball slips out of his hand and falls to the floor, shattering into a thousand fragments. The film's plot is structured around a search for the meaning of Kane's final utterance. Reporter Jerry Thompson is given the assignment to uncover the mystery of "Rosebud"; however, Thompson never learns the meaning behind the word. And it is not until the final scene that the intricate, interlocking pieces of the film's jigsaw puzzle structure click together for the audience. In this scene, the camera tracks over hundreds of Kane's possessions, finally stopping on an old sled from his childhood.
The sled, appearing worthless, has been thrown into the burning furnace. Printed across the front of the sled is the word "Rosebud," a symbol of Kane's childhood and everything in his life that he once loved, but then lost.
The sled "Rosebud" first appears in a flashback into Kane's youth. During the flashback, young Kane appears happy and carefree as he sleds and plays outside in the snow. However, Kane's happiness will not last long because inside his mother is signing over his custody to a Mr. Walter Thatcher. As Kane's new legal guardian, Thatcher takes Kane away from his mother and father, in hopes that he can raise him to be a wealthy and successful gentleman. Kane grows up resenting Thatcher, never forgetting his childhood happiness. His references to "Rosebud"Ã¯Â¿Â½ reveal this attachment to his first sled and his longing to return to his youth. After Kane is taken from his mother at a young age he does not experience the affection from Thatcher that mother shows her son. Thatcher uses material possessions to show his affection for young Charles. Thatcher's attempts to replace the sled Kane left behind with a sled with the name "Crusader"Ã¯Â¿Â½ entitled across it hoping to replace Kane's simple childhood with material possessions. "It wasn't money Kane wanted"--it was love and happiness. Growing up Kane was taught money was the way to make people happy. He never was taught to love anything or anyone beyond the material aspect. He did not realize, until it was too late, that money did not buy happiness. Kane wanted to use his money to fulfill others dreams in return for their affection. Money only temporarily made these people happy. Kane's stubbornness made it hard for him to see his flaws and became a self-centered pathetic human being.
As an adult, Kane first refers to "Rosebud" after his second wife, Susan Alexander Kane, leaves him. Kane tries desperately to win Susan's love by buying her gifts, building her an opera house, and even promoting her unsuccessful singing career. Unfortunately, these were not the kind of gifts that Susan desired. She wanted more from her marriage than just money and possessions. She wanted the freedom to be herself and to escape from Kane's control. Eventually, Susan could no longer tolerate Kane or the life he has chosen for her to live, so she packs up her things and moves away. Kane is devastated that, once again, someone he loves has deserted him. He becomes so furious that he goes on a rampage, destroying Susan's room. Suddenly, Kane spots a small crystal globe lying on Susan's dresser. He picks it up and is overwhelmed with memories of his childhood. As he leaves the room, staring into the crystal globe, Kane softly mutters the word "Rosebud," a reference to his sled, his childhood, and everything in his life that he once loved and then lost. Kane once said, "If I hadn't been rich, I may have been a great man." This quote alone reveals how much Kane regretted be taken his mother as a child to go become a rich, newspaper tycoon. Rosebud is a symbol of Kane's childhood. A childhood memory that he always held close to him (figuratively and literally) and it was even the tool that was used to push away Thatcher. In a greater sense, he used Rosebud, the symbol of his carefree childhood, as both a weapon and a barrier against the threat of the industrial and financial life, presented by Thatcher. When Thatcher took him to the city, he lost Rosebud; he lost his chance at being a carefree adolescences. We see Rosebud in a later in a montage, out in his parents' yard and being covered by snow over time, as he is adjusting to his new city life. The more snow Rosebud collects shows how his childhood is being ended prematurely.
Reporter Jerry Thompson said, "Charles Foster Kane was a man who got everything he wanted, and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn't get or lost"ÃÂ¦ No don't think any word explains a man's life."Ã¯Â¿Â½ Thompson's last lines sums up the life of Charles Foster Kane very well. Although, he still does not know what Rosebud means, Thompson realizes Kane grew to become a very complex man. Kane was a man, if he desired, could have had any material possession he felt would make him happy. Kane bought colossal amounts of rare collectables and the cost did not matter. None of these collectables made him happy. They were just material processions that he was thought would make him happy and others around him happy. He bought more than any man would ever need trying to make himself happy, but did not succeed. The jigsaw puzzle piece that he was missing, Rosebud, attempted to be filled with more pieces of the puzzle, but these pieces grew and grew and made Kane too self-centered trying to figure out what once made him truly happy.
Kane dies alone with no one that loves him. His egocentric personality made it hard for Kane to learn what love is. Charles Foster Kane placed himself first in everything he tried to accomplish and did not have any consideration for others. Thatcher once asked what Kane wanted to be and he replied, "Everything you hate."Ã¯Â¿Â½ This quote demonstrates Kane's desire to change what Thatcher has made him. Love was the only thing Kane never learned. Love is such a simple and natural human emotion, but Charles was taken from this simple life and never experienced the love he needed from Thatcher. Happiness was something Kane did not have at his deathbed. He was tore from his innocence's and love at such young age and was unable to every genuinely regain either.
Orson Welle's withholds the movies most important theme, in its truest form at least, until one of the final scenes in the film. By waiting until the end of Citizen Kane to reveal the essence of this main theme of lost childhood, he puts extra emphasis on the sequence and its importance as well as provides a form of resolution in the film. Welle's presents Charles Foster Kane as a complex man who attempts to buy the love of others in his search for his own happiness. Kane however, never attains the adoration that he spends his entire life searching for and dies a lonely man. His second wife, Susan Alexander, provides an excellent example of the distance between Kane and his loved ones. Rosebud was such a simple thing that made up this complicated man. To Kane, "Rosebud" was a symbol of happiness. It was a symbol of everything in life Kane truly desired-- his very first sled, his mother, his wife, and his youth.