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September 22, 2011

Citizen Kane (1941)

Filed under: Blog Challenge — Daniel Min @ 5:16 pm

Love! You don’t love anybody! Me or anybody else! You want to be loved – that’s all you want! I’m Charles Foster Kane. Whatever you want – just name it and it’s yours! Only love me! Don’t expect me to love you   – Susan Alexander Kane [1]

An extraordinary cinematic endeavor that expended and pushed the movie production to its limits, a film that was beautifully crafted by Toland, Mankiewicz, Hermann and the renaissance man Orson Welles. Citizen Kane is a remarkable yet alluringly strange film that established the highlight of Welles’s career and its technical superiority.

Orson Welles has done a remarkable job playing such a self-centered character who talks to people with a condescending manner, a character that I honestly had no sympathy for, yet the intricacy of Kane’s life was mysterious and it was depressing because such human beings can exist without regard for others. One particular segment that strikes me the most is the domestic dispute between husband and wife during an enormous picnic. A spectacular event where a boar is spit-roasted on an open fire, hundreds of people are present to dine in and listen to bebop jazz, such a glamorous evening that was all for the sake of Charles Foster Kane’s second wife, Susan Alexander. Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore) an opera singer who suffered through enough tumultuous experiences due to her poor performance in the opera house of Chicago, had enough of Kane’s selfish ways as she was complacent about how there is no empathy from him.  All he ever does is buy her things for compassion and love, however she doesn’t acquire any of it in return. Afterwards Kane slaps his wife across the face which Susan replied that she doesn’t want any of his remorse, but cruelly Kane didn’t intend to. This particular scene where we hear some woman abhorrently cries and screams in the background as the camera is still fixated on Susan Alexander after she was hit, truly disturbed me the most.

What is the purpose of that particular scene? Is it because it was the director’s intention to provoke strong emotions from the audience? We could hear the horrendous aural cues that were synchronously intact with Susan’s initial reaction after she was hit, it left me to contemplate the hysterical cries were not necessarily from outside of the confines, however the pain and violent agony within Susan.  Orson Welles handled this scene phenomenally well yet delicate in its own aesthetic achievement.  That scene is truly effective and couldn’t been accomplished any better, had if it not been Susan’s stoic reaction and the cries of distress in the background. It is as if Orson Welles wanted us to examine the immoral aspect of being human.  Citizen Kane is a mysterious film that requires repeat viewing, not only because we can’t pin it down with a few interpretations, but examining their skills in creating an extraordinary film with the limited amount of technical options that were made available to them.

References: 

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033467/quotes

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2 Comments

  1. excellent scene breakdown. I remember that scene and it made me realize that almost all the scenes we see Kane and his second wife in, shes on the floor while hes sitting or standing over her. A perfect example of their relationship.

       Eric Dorcean — October 9, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  2. The fact that you questioned the scene shows that there was a lot of thought about what is happening. I like your mentioning of Kane vs. real life people because i think there can actually be people like this in reality

       Raaj Mangroo — October 14, 2011 @ 8:23 am


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