Citizen Kane (1941)
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For decades critics said Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane was the greatest film ever made. Unfortunately, that intimidating label sometimes keeps people from sitting down and watching the thing. It needn’t be so. Kane is eminently watchable and entertaining. It also definitely isn’t the greatest film of all time, but it’s one of the most technically impressive, especially considering it was directed, produced, co-written and starred in by a 25-year-old who’d never made a movie before.
The titular Charles Foster Kane is a character very recognizable to Americans, the larger-than-life business mogul-turned-celebrity who dabbles in politics. Many details of Kane’s private life are known to the general public, but the film tells us that there’s more to a person than what’s said in the newspapers—perhaps especially when that person was himself a newspaperman who took pride in controlling public perception.
Kane’s complicated, puzzle-like story structure suggests that fully boring down into the mystery of a man’s life may be impossible, but with its exciting twists and turns it makes us feel that the effort to get beneath the façade is worthwhile.
Citizen Kane was included on the Vatican’s 1995 list of important films under the category of Art.
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