Citizen Kane (1941) Film Review


Kane (Orson Welles) is a media magnate who, throughout his life, suffered a lot of gossip about his wives and his fortune, but few people ever really knew the real Kane. Now, upon his death, his story is being sought.

One of my mates recently said that Citizen Kane is not a very good film. What an outrageous comment – as outrageous as not liking Star Wars (and I may have jeopardized several friendships with that admission). I had to revisit the film to see whether this claim had any merit at all. Citizen Kane was known for several things. Firstly, it was the great work of filmmaker George Orwell, even though he was only twenty-three when he made it. Secondly, it pioneered film techniques that have been copied and developed ever since. Thirdly, it is studied by almost every film student and consistently ranks high in various best film ever made lists. All of this raised one further question; if a film was the best of its time, but some elements possibly don’t hold up over time, should it still rate highly? Or should we allow it to retire quietly, to be replaced by films that use similar or the same techniques only better?

For me, I think this one does hold up. It tells the story in a fascinating, non-linear fashion, leaving the audience knowing more than the characters. The range of techniques used only enhance the storytelling, and even though the acting is somewhat exaggerated, that really was the style of the time. If I were making a list of my top ten favourite films, it wouldn’t make it. And if I made a list of the top ten films which I consider to be best made, it still probably wouldn’t make it. But it is extremely good, and I expect that I will watch it again.


Citizen Kane won an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay and was nominated for awards for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Orson Welles), Best Director (Orson Welles), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Art Direction – Interior Decoration, Black-and-White, Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture.

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