CITIZEN KANE (Blu-Ray Book)
Orson Welles’ timeless masterwork is more than a groundbreaking film. Presented here in a magnificent 70th anniversary digital transfer with revitalized digital audio from the highest quality surviving elements, it is also grand entertainment, sharply acted and superbly directed with inspired visual flair.
A review by Marie Albert
This Orson Welles classic is also known as the “Greatest Film of All Time”. Enormous controversy surrounded almost every aspect of this film: from its rookie director and lead actor, to its closed-set production, to the criticism that followed its release in 1941. The character of Charles Foster Kane is said to be based on wealthy newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst. The comparison was another controversy that threatened the release.
Citizen Kane is the story of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) who started from simple beginnings and grew to inherit a large fortune. The film opens with his death and the uttering of his last word, “Rosebud,” what follows is an attempt by journalists to piece together his life to find out what “Rosebud” meant to Kane. A portrait of the man is formed solely through the description of others. It is a jigsaw puzzle that is missing one piece, “Rosebud”. The narrative jumps through the past as more characters describe Kane. He was a man who lived extravagantly but was never able to be completely satisfied with his possessions. Similarly, as journalists strive to discover more about Kane, they are never able to get a complete picture of the man.
Everything about this film is grand in proportion. The sets are numerous and appear vast; the sets for Xanadu are especially incredible. The makeup of the production is also surprisingly good. Even with all the advances that have been made to makeup since the film was released, it is still believable as Kane and the other characters shift from young to old. The cast was largely unknown by Hollywood-standards. They were all part of Welles’ Mercury theatre company. Some of the standout performances are Joseph Cotton who plays Jedediah Leland and Everett Sloane who plays Mr. Bernstein.
Citizen Kane is an excellent film despite the backlash that it initially received. The story is compelling and still relevant in today’s society. The diversity of shots and scenes in the film are visually-interesting. The film highlights the talents of Orson Welles who made it while being largely new to the art of filmmaking. Though it was first surrounded by controversy, the film has since then received much critical acclaim and has stood the test of time as a great movie.
The 70th anniversary edition has the restored and remastered version of the black and white film. It comes with an additional documentary, The Battle over Citizen Kane (1995), which details the controversies that surrounded Welles and his film. The anniversary edition also comes with a booklet that shares story boards, history and candid pictures of the film’s production. Overall, it is a great collector’s item for fans of the film and for those who appreciate exceptional filmmaking.