Okay, let me start my review by stating the obvious.
My rating for this movie is five stars.
There’s not much of a surprise in that. Of course I’m giving this five stars. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who DOESN’T give this five stars. It’s actually pretty intimidating trying to talk about this movie, because this movie has already been analyzed to death by much more prolific critics than I. Pretty much anything that CAN be said about this movie, HAS been said.
Now, if you haven’t seen this movie, I highly suggest that you close this page, see the movie, then come back and read this review. No, I’m not going to spoil this movie’s famous ending, but with a movie like this, virtually everything I say would be giving away a small piece of the brilliance that is Citizen Kane.
Well, let me set the stage for you.
It’s a dark night. Far off in the distance we see an enormous dark mansion. But there’s one lit window that catches our eye. We see multiple shots of the mansion from various angles. But each shot contains the window. And in each shot, the window is in the same basic part of the frame.
Everything changes. The lit window remains constant.
Finally we get a little closer to the window… And closer still… and we’re in.
An aging man lies on a bed. We don’t see his face, but we see he’s holding a snow globe. A snow globe of a house on a hill. We get a close up of his mouth as he utters a single word.
And he drops the snow globe, which shatters into a million pieces as the maid enters. And we realize the man has just died.
That may easily be the greatest opening scene in motion picture history. And if my rendition of the scene interested you, I suggest again, get off my website and see this movie. Honestly, I worry that I’ll have to do a play by play of the entire rest of the movie in order to do it even the smallest justice.
To be honest, I don’t think I will talk about the rest of the movie. I’ll let you discover it on it’s own. As a reviewer, it isn’t my job to tell YOU what to think, it’s my job to recommend movies, for better or worse. And in the case of Citizen Kane, the best I can do is tell you to watch the movie and let the film speak for itself.
I will say this though. You know how when talked about Casablanca and Jaws, I mentioned how every single person involved in the film was trying 100% to do their hardest. In Citizen Kane, it’s more like 500%.
But this raises the question – Is Citizen Kane truly the best movie ever made?
Let me take this time to explain that there is a difference between favorite and best. If you asked me what my favorite Ice cream flavor was, I’d say strawberry. Why? Because it’s what I personally like. It’s not a fact, it’s an opinion. Strawberry is my favorite.
With movies, as I’ve previously stated, “How To Train Your Dragon” is my favorite. But I will be the first to admit, it’s not the best. It has its flaws, here and there, but overall, it delivers what I want to see in a movie, and it’s a darn good movie to boot. “Citizen Kane” is a movie that broke grounds when it came out. It was controversial, and only won a single Oscar. Kind of like that brilliant kid who was held back in school because he was different.
Now, I haven’t seen nearly enough movies to officially say that Citizen Kane deserves the title ‘greatest movie of all time.’ But from what I’ve learned about film over the course of the years, and after all the movies I’ve seen, I believe that Citizen Kane truly does deserve the title of Best Movie Ever Made.
(P.S. I wrote those last few paragraphs for the review, but halfway through writing I realized, “This is good.” So I’m gonna use this on my Film Studies Final. It sounds like cheating, but when you think about it, it really isn’t.)
I did like Citizen Kane and I’ve already seen it three times (although I have yet to see it on my own time, as each time I’ve had to watch it for a class). It is incredible on a technical level and even today it still seems very authentic. That said, I don’t know that I’d give it the title of “Greatest Film Ever Made” (although it is a worthy contender), if only because I’d give that title to 2001.
Nice review. I always have a hard time with assigning “the best” to anything but it comes pretty close. It’s as you say, everyone was giving 500%. And when you read the history of Kane, Welles, and The Mercury Players (not to mention the battle with Randolph Hearst the newspaper tycoon), it makes it even more amazing (and Welles was only 25 when he made the film!) This is a movie I can see over and over which says a lot.