Various compositions demonstrated in Citizen Kane

Essay by CalDe21University, Master'sA+, May 2004

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"Citizen Kane is often called the greatest film ever made. With close examination of the opening scenes, discuss the significant artistic features and cinematic techniques that led to this response."

Citizen Kane is often called the greatest film ever made. Its use of film techniques often taken for granted nowadays were completely new and had not been done before. Simple things like ceilings on the sets and realistic scenes such as the newsreel, which would not stand out in a modern film, were combined to make a film full of innovative techniques. The director, Orson Welles, developed the use of deep focus to make the flat cinema screen almost become three dimensional, which added a realism that had not been explored before.

Right from the start, a viewer can see the innovation displayed by Welles. The opening scene, one of the most famous in the entire film, begins with the fence that surrounds Kane's mansion, Xanadu.

This shows how private and reclusive Kane has become in his old age, that he requires this huge wire mesh fence around his home. The scene then dissolves to show the main gates of Xanadu, with the large letter "K" in the middle. This represents how, despite all his accomplishments, this one letter in a circle can now sum up his life, that people just see him as an old man who will not let anyone close to him.

Still in the first scene, the atmosphere of the footage, with the fog shrouding everything, creates a feeling of foreboding and fear of what will be seen. The strange images of the boats and the monkeys particularly provoke uneasiness in an audience. The music also helps the effect, with its threatening sound clearly telling the audience that this is not the nicest place to...