Why is Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane a good movie? Let’s learn together.
Throughout the history of cinema, many films have been made and continue to be made. But there are some productions that refuse to rot on the dusty shelves of cinema history and are watched fondly until today, against time. Citizen Kane, It’s one of those movies that fit that description perfectly.
Citizen Kane, which met with the audience in 1941, managed to survive until today by writing its name in the history of cinema with golden letters. The name behind this success is the master director. Orson Welles. Citizen Kane became a remarkable film with its revolutionary innovations and contributions to the cinema, as well as its fearlessness due to its subject matter. So why is Citizen Kane, one of Orson Welles’ best-known films, so beautiful? The youtube channel Wolfcrow explained the cinematic success behind the movie with Citizen Kane criticism. Let’s find out together what are elements make Citizen Kane beautiful.
Technical Craftsmanship – Citizen Kane
With its revolutionary techniques, Citizen Kane shattered existing stereotypes and showed the world what can be achieved in filmmaking. Legendary cinematographer Gregg Toland The success of ‘s in this movie is an undeniable fact. Almost every scene of Citizen Kane, not one or two, was groundbreaking due to different cinematic innovations.
Orson Welles is considered the master of long shots. This success can be clearly seen in Citizen Kane. An example is a scene at the beginning of the movie when Kane was a child, where we see his mother wanting to send him. The fact that they moved the tables to convey this scene to the audience in a single long shot reveals Welles’s efforts in this regard. Citizen Kane is seen as one of the most successful films in terms of adding depth to the shots. Even though we are looking at the group talking inside the house in the same scene with a close-up, the fact that we see Kane playing outside the house in the background proves the visual depth in the scene.
Another factor that enables the depth to be created so successfully is the wide-angle lenses used by Welles and Toland. Thanks to these lenses, the screen is officially divided into layers, and the viewer is offered a viewing pleasure with plenty of perspectives. While we see a character’s face in the foreground, it is possible to perceive the actions taking place in the background. One of the scenes in the bar exemplifies this layered composition. In the part where the newspaper reporter leaves the bar and enters the phone booth, the locations of the reporter, waiter, and Susan character and the distance between them are fully conveyed to the audience, and the scene is divided into layers.
When the depth of focus was greater than the camera could record in one go, split diopter lenses were used, and then these images were combined. Citizen Kane is full of split diopters that are very difficult to make and today’s directors struggle with despite dozens of digital aids. In addition, when the mise en scene got too big, many outdated shooting techniques were used, such as matte paintings to widen the set, nude light on a dark background to imitate the crowd and dozens of reflection shots. This is another factor that reveals the success of Orson Welles.
When it comes to the use of light, such art of lighting can be directly attributed to the famous painter Caravaggio. With its sharp shadows and silhouettes, Citizen Kane is a revolution in the use of light. Toland wasn’t afraid of beams of light and lowlighting the foreground. In some scenes, the lights were literally dancing. When one light went off, another would start to come on. Nets and filters were used when softness was required, and complex light changes were used in transitions.
Citizen Kane is a production that deserves praise in terms of art direction. The use of depth mentioned above was used not only for the background but also to host optical illusions. In some scenes, it is understood that the windows are larger than expected, and in others, the fireplace, which seems normal, is actually gigantic. This serves to shock the audience during a perfectly normal-sounding dialogue.
The technical achievements of Citizen Kane, which is a cinematography book, do not seem to end with counting. While Orson Welles’ meticulous work deserves credit, cinematographer Gregg Toland also deserves credit for his incredible success in the film. The fact that a very arrogant and powerful director like Welles shared his place on the title card with Toland is the most important thing that Welles accepted the success of the cinematograph.
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