"Citizen Kane"

Essay by Tdubya00College, UndergraduateA, July 2006

download word file, 2 pages 2.2

Downloaded 38 times

The movie opens with an unforgettable image of a distant, foggy castle on a hill. It's a classic gothic shot, and goes a long way towards establishing the movie's mood. We quickly learn that this place, called Xanadu, is the dwelling of America's Kubla Khan, Charles Foster Kane, a one-time newspaper owner who could have become President if not for an affair. Xanadu, in the words of the newsreel that gives a brief history of Kane's life, is the "costliest monument of a man to himself."

Within moments of the film's opening, Kane is dead, uttering the word "Rosebud" as he hunches over. His death, like his life, is a big news event, and the paper he owned, the New York Inquirer, is desperate to discover the meaning of his last word. Is it a woman he bedded? A horse he bet on? A beloved pet? Some long-lost love? This "Rosebud" obviously is the macguffin for the picture "Citizen Kane".

After showing Kane's death, "Citizen Kane" presents a ten-minute newsreel that details the man's larger-than-life accomplishments. Then a reporter from the Inquirer digs into Kane's past to learn the meaning of Rosebud, the famous man's history is unraveled through a series of extended flashbacks that represent the sometimes-overlapping, non- chronological accounts of five eyewitnesses. As the story unfolds, we see Kane, aided by his closest friend, Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotton), build a nationwide newspaper empire out of one small paper with a circulation of less than 30,000. To do so, he displays equal parts ruthlessness and generosity, willing to lose 1,000,000 dollars a year to win the circulation wars. His New York Inquirer specializes in bold, splashy headlines that don't necessarily represent the truth. By the time he marries Emily Norton, the President's niece, Kane is one of the...