Friday, 5 September 2008

Citizen Kane (1941)

What can I write here that has already been said somewhere else about Citizen Kane? Probably nothing, so I am not even trying. I watched it last night for the first time in a while and for the first time in the big screen. I had forgotten how good it was, and it felt much warmer and human than I remembered. I also could see some little clues that are only obvious after the first viewing (and after you find out what "Rosebud" stands for) and that were hidden by the smallness of the TV screen - one being the snow globe that is in the mantlepiece of Susan's house when Kane first visits.

More and more, I want to see films on the big screen. DVDs are wonderful and I love them, and they are convinient and allow me to access to a lot of films that I can't see otherwise. But these movies were made for huge screens, in a time before television really took over, and the amount of detail lost is so amazing. There's a quote about either Garbo or Bette Davis that they knew that less was more (mmm... probably Garbo) and that a simple raise of an eyebrow would be massive when projected. Nevertheless I should finally watch sometime soon the DVD which I own for a good 5 years now (maybe even a bit more) and is gathering dust with so many other titles in my ever growing collection.

One of the things it did surprise me, and that I had partly forgotten or never fully realised, is how much Lubitsch had influenced (in economy and style) the breakfast sequence that illustrates the rise and fall of Kane's first marriage. It is in turns touching, hillarious, sad and brilliant. I think this is one of the great virtues of the film; how it picked influences or techniques from others (German Expressionism and John Ford's Stagecoach, which I never seen, are often mentioned) but were put to use in such an original way.

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