Citizen Kane Essay, Research Paper
Orson Welles’ epic Citizen Kane, is not only of the greatest movies ever made, but also a good example of Hollywood style direction. Welles employed his creative tools, such as lighting and sound, camera movement and editing, a movie that did not only represent the theater world of its time, but also set an example for future generations of filmmakers and directors. Some of the striking stylistic elements of Citizen Kane include its expressionistic use of lighting, its dizzying variety of camera angles and movements, its range of camera positions from the extreme close-up to the panoramic longshot, its use of wide angle lenses and deep focus to create scenes of a three dimensional background, and its inversion of the common setup shot versus close-up shot sequence. Some of the scenes that I think best illustrates each of these stylistic elements, for example: the use of lighting in the news room scene, the low angle shots employed in Kane’s post-election headquarters, the close-up and extreme long shots during Kane’s political campaign speech, the deep focus photography in the Kane boyhood cabin sequence, the editing scene in the famous breakfast sequence involving Kane and his first wife, and the special effects in the first interview with Susan Alexander. Welles utilizes the camera, specifically the camera angle, to skip time when he presents altering shots of Charles and his wife at the dinner table from the same angle, back and forth, each of them aging rapidly with each new shot. Regarding camera techniques it becomes obvious that the usage of different angles is highly important to the director.
Citizen Kane uses a variety of different settings and objective lighting that overwhelms the audience. Welles’ abundant use of detail, which is distracting at times, engulfs the viewer. The Zanadu with all its paintings and statues portrays the wealth of the newspaper tycoon, but at the same time its high ceilings and endless space show the loneliness of its landlord. Little things make certain characters stand out and shine, for example the suite that Kane wears upon his return from Europe. Different lighting techniques stand out even more. High and low key lighting are used numerous times to create a mystique environment around the secret of Kane and Rosebud. Lighting is also employed various times, for example when Bernstein is interviewed by Jerry Thompson. The whole room is rather dim, but whenever Mr. Bernstein is turned towards the camera, Mr. Thompson, his face, and his whole character for that matter, is lit brightly. At other times during the movie outlines are created by placing a light-source behind a character this is called backlighting.Citizen Kane is a landmark of modern moviemaking in its technical virtuosity and innovative cinematic expression. The emotion packed story of Charles Foster Kane, goliath of the publishing world, is told with dynamic editing and expressionistic lighting. Camera angle and perspective are manipulated imaginatively to draw the viewer into Kane’s world. The usage of his directing skills such as lighting, sound, camera, and editing, set a great example that young filmmakers still follow today.