For my second review for Clean Movie Month, I decided to talk about Citizen Kane! Yes, the same movie that received a lot of critical acclaim and was placed in the number one spot on AFI’s list of the Top 100 Movies of All Time. This was the first time I had ever seen this film. Since I happened to have this movie on my DVR, I finally had an excuse to watch it. It’s interesting to see how many films from the Breen Code era have become beloved classics. On AFI’s list, twenty-nine films are from the Breen Code era. This tells me that the beliefs of Joseph I. Breen and the way he saw film are not only important to film history, but also to cinema in general. So, without further ado, let’s give this review of 1941’s Citizen Kane a grand welcome!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I was pleasantly surprised by the acting performances in Citizen Kane! Before watching this movie, I had never known that Orson Welles was an actor. His portrayal of Charles Kane impressed me more than I expected! Orson’s ability to convey emotions at the right moments enhanced his performance, making his character appear more realistically. Another performance that I was impressed with was Dorothy Comingore’s! She made her character, Susan, interesting by the way she interacted with the other cast members/characters. Her reactions to different situations made Susan feel like she was more than just a character. From performing at the opera to meeting Charles for the first time, Susan came across as a real-life person on-screen.
The evolution of Charles Kane: The majority of this story is about the life of Charles Kane. Throughout the film, the audience gets to witness how he evolves as a person. This evolution is shown in a very believable way! The screen-writing and the acting performance of Orson Welles helped make this part of the story effective. Besides portraying the lead character, Orson co-wrote the film’s script. Because of this, it shows that he appeared to have an understanding of not only the character he was portraying, but also the character he was writing.
The cinematography: Citizen Kane had some interesting cinematography! Toward the beginning of the film, the camera appeared to use a special lens that made the audience feel like they were looking through Charles’ fallen snow-globe. This gave that scene a unique visual perspective. In some scenes, a person was in the foreground and another person was in the background. One example is when Charles is finishing Jedediah’s article about Susan’s opera performance. This was an interesting way of showing who the focus of the scene was. The cinematography in this film made the overall project have a compelling visual aesthetic!
What I didn’t like about the film:
- No connection to the characters: When characters are introduced in a film, there is always a chance for the audience to connect with, at least, one of them. An experience that a character has or a character’s unique talent can help make this connection happen. In Citizen Kane, however, I never felt like I was able to connect with any of the characters. Yes, I got to know them over the course of the story. But, getting to know a character and connecting with them are two different things. What didn’t help was having other people share Charles Kane’s life-story. This reminded me of the movie, Edward, My Son, where the audience never gets to connect with the character of Edward, but get to know him through the dialogue of the other characters. The only thing that the audience could do was observe Charles’ story. Charles himself, as well as the other characters, always felt like they kept their distance from anyone watching the film.
- Drawn-out scenes: There were several scenes in Citizen Kane that lasted longer than they should have. One example is when Emily and Charles’ marriage is deteriorating. I understand that the purpose of this scene was to show how Emily and Charles’ relationship evolved as time went on. However, this idea could have been expressed in a shorter amount of time. Another example is when Susan is putting her puzzles together. Similar to my previous statement, I understand that this scene was meant to show how trapped and isolated Susan felt in her new home. But, again, the visual explanation of this concept could have been shortened.
- The run-time: The more I review movies on 18 Cinema Lane, the more I notice that a film’s run-time can make or break that film. This goes for Citizen Kane, whose run-time was one hour and fifty-nine minutes. Personally, I think this run-time made the movie feel longer than it was intended. This is probably why some scenes felt drawn-out, as I previously mentioned. I think Citizen Kane could have benefited from having a run-time set at one hour and about twenty minutes. That way, drawn-out scenes are shortened and their ideas would be straight to the point.
My overall impression:
So, now that I’ve finally seen Citizen Kane, it’s time for me to share my overall impression of the movie. Personally, I thought it was just decent. It’s not as good or great as other people have claimed it to be. The way I feel about this movie is similar to how I felt about The Christmas Card. There are so many Hallmark fans who like or love that film, yet I think it’s just ok. In my opinion, Citizen Kane has been over-hyped as the years have gone on. But I’m glad I gave this movie a chance because I can now form my own honest opinion about it! The effect of the Breen Code was more obvious in Citizen Kane than in Stowaway. One example is when Charles says “Gosh only knows”. Also, in this story, there’s a subplot about Charles having an affair with Susan. Because of the way the script was written, the idea of an affair or the word itself is never explicitly stated. Even though I didn’t like Citizen Kane as much as other people did, it’s nice to see a Breen Code era film receive a good amount of recognition.
Overall score: 7.1 out of 10
Have you enjoyed my Clean Movie Month reviews so far? Is your favorite Breen Code era film on AFI’s list of movies? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!