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An Analysis of Citizen Kane

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Rebecca B.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Consequences of Kane's death
  3. 'Declaration of Principles'
  4. Scenes that attract the viewer's attention
  5. The first flashback
  6. Conclusion

Citizen Kane (1941) is the first film to be co-written, directed, produced, and starred in by the same man: Orson Welles. It tells the fictional story of newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane, with many similarities to the life and story of real-life media tycoon William Randolph Hearst. The film begins eerily by showing the gates of Kane's ?palace? Xanadu, cloaked in fog and accompanied by foreboding music. From there, the viewer sees an old man laying in his deathbed. He whispers the word ?rosebud? as he passes away, and a snow globe slips from his fingers and shatters on the floor.

After Kane's death, the film goes on to show a newsreel about his life. The information in the newsreel is not enough to the editor though, he wants information about the man that C.F. Kane was, and he wants to know who or what rosebud is. He sends an eager reporter, Jerry Thompson, to interview people from Kane's life in an effort to find out more about the mystery of Kane and rosebud. Over the course of the film Thompson gains insight on Kane from five sources. He first attempts to interview Kane's second wife, Susan Alexander, but she refuses to see him, so he moves on.

[...] Second, the controversy around the story of Citizen Kane also led to much publicity for the film, most likely having at least some contributing factor to its current status. William Randolph Hearst fought hard to prevent the film from being released, and he was unsuccessful, but Welles was still met with much opposition as a result of the fight. As much as he tried to deny that the film was not based on Hearst, it is obvious that it was. [...]


[...] Jed Leland was also present when Kane created his ?Declaration of Principles?, and he is the next person that Thompson goes to see. Leland's memories of Kane are not quite as fond as Bernstein's, but they offer Thompson insight nonetheless. Thompson then successfully attempts to speak to Susan Alexander a second time. She talks of her life with Kane, but like all of the previous interviewees, cannot tell Thompson the meaning of rosebud. Running out of people to speak with, Thompson turns to Kane's butler at Xanadu, Raymond. [...]

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