Hearst Essay, Research Paper
William Randolph Hearst and Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane has often been considered one the best film ever made. This film is about a conflict between two twentieth century icons, the publisher William Randolph Hearst and the prodigy of his time, Orson Welles. This movie was nominated for nine Academy Awards, but is booted off the stage with only one award, for Best Screenplay. This was due to the great pressure from one of the most powerful men in the nation, the man that Citizen Kane portrayed as a corrupt power hungry man, William Randolph Hearst.
There is no way that one cannot ignore the striking similarities between Hearst and Kane. Orson Welles included a few details about the young Kane s life that, anyone with some knowledge of Hearst life, would set anyone thinking about the newspaper giant s life. Shortly after the film begins, a reporter is seen trying to discover the meaning of Kane s last words rosebud . This reporter begins his search by going through the records of Kane s guardian Thatcher.
The scene then begins to come to life in the midwinter that takes place at the Kane s house. Kane s mother has come into one of the richest gold mines in the world, and at age twenty-five, Kane will inherit this sixty million dollar fortune. His mother becomes doubtful of the education system in Colorado; therefore she decides to send her son to study with Thatcher. Hearst s parents came by their money through gold mines, so both Kane and Hearst were raised with golden spoon in their mouths. Kane is devoted to his mother as Hearst was likewise to that. Both men pay heed to their mothers wishes while their fathers seem to be less powerful and were not as influential as their mothers. Kane s dying word, the name of his childhood sled Rosebud , is a town twenty miles east of where the Hearst s parents grew up. Everything from the newsreel at the start of the film on Kane s life matches almost exactly to that of Hearst s life. Kane ran many newspapers, had a well-publicized affair, tried to be elected to office, was completely careless with his money, and built himself a pleasure palace called Xanadu. Hearst also did all of these things over the course of his lifetime, which further leads people to be convinced that Hearst full life story was the intentions of Welles.
After the opening newsreel, the movie goes through the boyhood scenes of Kane s life where Thatcher takes him from his family. The movie then quickly shifts to when Kane is about to inherit his private fortune. Thatcher is concerned that Kane will not know his place in the world; his fears are affirmed when he receives a telegram form Kane stating that he would like to run a small newspaper, the Morning Inquirer. Hearst s father owned a newspaper, The Examiner, which Hearst took over to try and reform the dying paper.
Both Hearst and Kane begin to immediately revolutionize everything about their papers. Kane makes it quite clear that, from now on, it was going to report all the news, large or small. Hearst did the same thing, making his paper take on undignified topics . Here is where a classic similarity is shown; Kane almost completely quotes Hearst exactly. Kane exclaims: You supply the prose and poems, I ll supply the war which was a telegram that Kane sent to a man in Cuba. Hearst was very anti-Spanish during the Cuban revolution; this war would have never been fought if it were not due to his efforts to start it. Hearst would do anything for a headline, in which he would make up falsified tales.
In the next scene, Thatcher mentions to Kane his enormous losses, which have totaled to over one million dollars for the year, which is a staggering sum to be lost by one person. Kane however laughed it off as a joke, remarking that at that rate he ll have to close down in sixty years. All of these things were characteristics of Hearst as well. Hearst threw money away as though it literally grew on trees to him. A man with an income of fifteen million a year had no savings and sometimes had to borrow money from others, as did Kane.
Right after taking over the Inquirer, Kane ordered the editor to play up the less important stories of the newspaper. The kind of things the nation wanted to see and read about, not just boring old news. Kane then became more involved in the paper and realized that he wanted his main competitor staff from the Chronicle. He bribed these men with large sums of cash to move to his paper.
These tactics were very like Hearst maneuvers in many ways. Hearst loved to embellish and exaggerate the news to get a better response and circulation. Hearst was also constantly stealing talented newspapermen from other newspapers. Hearst also paid people any salary without care, because money was no issue for him.
The next scene opens with Leland, one of Kane s only friends. Leland explained how no one could understand Kane because of the contradictions in his life and his beliefs. Leland explained how Kane was a firm believer in law and government, but he stated that he did not see how either applied to him. Hearst was incredibly egomaniac and also shared the same beliefs as Kane did. Both were in constant conflict with themselves. This trait is one that Kane played out to full effect in the movie. Both were also firm believers in their own power.
There is one thing however, that Kane wanted in life, that was love, but it was also the one thing he never found. He wanted people to love him just as those did on his newspaper staff and went about making it true by running for governor on an independent ticket. Hearst sought public office to, which was the governor of New York on an independent ticket. Both men used dirty and abusive campaigning methods, portraying their opponents to be scoundrels. Both in the movie and in Hearst life, the family obsession of running a newspaper began to dissolve. Kane left the newspaper to be run by his men and did Hearst also did that too. Both men were also defeated in running for governor.
The movie then shifts to Susan Alexander s portrayal of Kane as her own personal ambition factory. Whatever she was lacking, Kane supplied it for her and put his soul into backing her, even though she was a terrible singer. Hearst did the same for Davies, making each movie a greater triumph for her. Davies was however talented, unlike Susan, but there was enough similarities between the two women. The women were both singers, both loved jigsaw puzzles, and both were in well-publicized affairs. Both Kane and Hearst pushed and pushed their mistresses to their breaking point and ran their lives completely. Kane then decided to start building Xanadu, for them, a gigantic castle with gigantic animals from all over the world. Hearst built San Simeon for them, which included a zoo. Hearst however was truly devoted to Davies, unlike that of Kane and Susan.
Finally in one of the last scenes, with Kane s butler s point of view, come two more similarities between the two men. At this point in time in the movie Kane flies into this violent rage when Susan decides to leave him; he goes into her room and begins to destroy everything that he can. Kane was a collector of everything; he never threw a thing out, and was always buying something new. Hearst had similar tempers and bizarre traits. Hearst would destroy thousands of dollars worth of antiques he owned, in a fit of rage and anger. He then would spend hundreds on thousands of dollars in replacing what he broke. Hearst also was one who never threw anything out.
The movie closed with the scene of the resolution of the rosebud puzzle. Among the masses of junk that Kane collected, laid a tiny wooden sled, the one from the day that Kane was taken from his mother, which is seen being hauled off and thrown into the fire. Upon closer examination, the word rosebud can be made out, as it is slowly burned to nothing.
Now taking into account the evidence that was just presented in the above paper, it is very clear to see that Orson Welles based the movie Citizen Kane around the life of William Randolph Hearst, a fact that did not upset Hearst at all. However, Welles claimed that he had no intention on his movie being about someone. Welles stated that the movie was not based upon the life of Mr. Hearst or anyone else .
Orson Welles criticism of Hearst was the way he went about getting what he wanted, using his immense powers over the people of his country, to gain more personal power for himself. This theme is portrayed so powerfully, in Citizen Kane. The movie brought out that Hearst wanted love, but not just the love of a few, but also the love of all. Although Hearst was not a loveless monster like Kane was portrayed to be, he did however have many faults, one being that he believed that he could buy love.
In conclusion, Orson Welles directed, helped write, and starred in one of the greatest films of all times, which had one sole purpose. The purpose of this movie was to denounce Hearst and all men who were abusive with their power and public trust. Why did Welles spend so much time and effort on this one man s life? It was because Hearst, for his apparent love for all people, was only trying to get power and love for himself by abusing the most powerful weapon of his day, the free press.