Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Academic Research Paper on the Film “Citizen Kane."

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Academic Research Paper on the Film “Citizen Kane.


Name Gan Chee Keat, Philip


Abstract


This is an in-depth research paper on the greatest film of all time in America, Citizen Kane. The objective of this paper is to help readers understand about the facts behind this film, the controversies and how it became the best-remembered and highly-rated film in history and as well as understanding the characters of the film. The beginning part of this paper will dwell on the history behind the two figures commonly associated to the film. Then, this paper will feature an analysis of the main and important characters in the film, mainly in the form of a behavioural analysis. Then, I will discuss two important scenes from the film that made a huge impact in Kanes life, the breakfast table scene and the picnic scene before concluding my research paper.


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1. Introduction


Recently named by the American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles as the number one film in America, Citizen Kane is perhaps the worlds most famous and highly rated film ever made. Even before the film was released in 141, there was much hype and buzz surrounding the film and about the boy genius that made it (The Battle Over Citizen Kane, 16). That boy genius was none other than the man who caused widespread panic among listeners of the radio drama War of the Worlds, thinking that Martians had really invaded New Jersey (Vivian, 1, chap.15, pp 8-85), Orson Welles, who also wrote, produced and starred in the film.


Welles had just turned 4 when he decided to take on this film project, inspired by the life of newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst. It was because of this factor that the film failed to make an impact commercially because of Hearsts influences over the media at that time. Though nearly everyone present at a preview screening of the film realised that they had seen a work of brilliance, Hearst exerted much influence over the failure of the film, with many of Hearst-owned newspapers and other media outlets boycotting the film and attempts by Hearst to buy the film over to burn the negatives. Hearst claimed that the film was slanderous towards him but the film did indeed draw certain similarities between him and the films Charles Foster Kane, which will be discussed in detail in The Real Charles Foster Kane section of this paper.


What the film really was about was that it was just a fictionalised biography of Hearst in the form of a mystery cum investigative reporting genre. The film focuses on the word rosebud, uttered by Kane before he breathed his last. An investigative reporter was assigned to resolve the mystery of rosebud so he set out on a search for the meaning. His search led him to interview people of Kanes past, which was revealed through a series of flashbacks but none was able to help the reporter solve the mystery of rosebud.


What really made this film famous was not because of its controversies but more because of the films style and complexity of the film, which will influence many films in the future. Robert Wise, the film editor who later won Academy Awards for West Side Story (16) and The Sound of Music (166) (Emery, 1), did a marvellous job to keep the film structure flow seamlessly and cohesively. It was not until 0 or years later that the film was revived - before Welles would gain popular recognition for having created one of cinemas great masterpieces (About the Program, The American Experience, 4).


Despite the controversies and problems that Welles faced, it did not stop the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to award the film eight Oscar nominations, of which it only won one for Best Original Screenplay, which Welles shared with Herman Mankiewicz. The film was nominated for Best Picture (producer Welles), Best Actor and Best Director (Welles); Best B/W Cinematography (Gregg Toland), Best B/W Interior Decoration (Perry Ferguson and Van Nest Polglase), Best Sound Recording (John Aalberg), Best Dramatic Picture Score (Bernard Herrmann), and Best Film Editing (Wise) (Dirks, 00).


. The Real Charles Foster Kane


The film Citizen Kane has always been known as a fictionalised account of Hearsts life though depicted a little differently. Hearst was born on April , 186 in San Francisco, California, as the only child of self-made millionaire George Hearst and Phoebe Apperson Hearst. At age and a student at Harvard University, he became the proprietor of the San Francisco Examiner, which his father had accepted as a payment for a gambling debt in 1880 (Wierichs, 00, ). According to Wierichs, the older Hearst was a US Senator and had very little interest on a newspaper. Though preferring his son to manage the familys mining and ranch business, he gave his son control of the Examiner at Williams demand in 1887.


Like young Charles Kane, the young Hearst proved to be versatile as he determined to make the Examiner popular. Thus, he began to purchase the best equipment possible and hire the most talented writers possible (Wierichs, 00, ). Hearst went on to publish exposes of corruption and stories that were filled with drama and inspiration just as Kane publishes stories of scandals in his newspaper. Inspired by the journalism of Joseph Pulitzer, his former mentor, Hearst turned the newspaper into a combination of investigative reporting and lurid sensationalism.


In 185, Hearst purchased the New York Journal and entered himself in a newspaper circulation war with Pulitzers New York World, vowing to out-Pulitzer Pulitzer (Vivian, 1, chap. 10, p. 64). Both papers began publishing articles on the Cuban Insurrection in an attempt to increase circulation; with most articles greatly exaggerated to make them more sensational (Wierichs, 00, 4). The term yellow journalism, derived from Pulitzers Yellow Kid comic strip that Hearst copied as well as hiring Pulitzers cartoonist, was used to describe the circulation war as they plastered New York City with yellow promotional posters of the comic strip (Vivian, 1, chap. 10, p. 64). The term was then used to describe the style of sensationalised newspaper articles that both publications ran.


Hearst then ran a series of powerful articles that he published about the Cuban Insurrection and several years later, blaming Spain for the bombing and sinking of USS Maine. The articles incited Americans to go to war with Spain, thus, resulting in the Spanish-American War in 188. Hearst famously claimed, …You furnish the pictures, Ill furnish the war when one of his reporters visited Cuba and reported that there would be no war (Vivian, 1, chap. 10, p. 65). Kane said a similar line in the film, too, in the scene where a telegram from Cuba arrived for him while he was with Thatcher. He told Bernstein to send a message to the reporter, saying, “You provide the prose poems - Ill provide the war.”


For his leading role in inciting this war, Hearst was given the nickname Father of Yellow Journalism (Wierichs, 00, 5). It was this type of stories that Kane revelled in as well in the film Citizen Kane. Hearst also did what Kane did on Citizen Kane; he bought over the writers from his rival in an attempt to out-manoeuvre him (Wierichs, 00, 6).


In 10, Hearst married Millicent Willson in New York and she bore him five sons during their marriage together. During their honeymoon in Europe, Hearst decided to start his magazine Motor, which would become an international operation known as Hearst Magazines (Wierichs, 00, 7).


Hearst and Kane had many other similarities as well, not just in the paper business (Dirks, 00). Both of them were also involved in politics, aspiring to become president of the country. Hearst was like his father, interested in politics, and he was elected twice into the House of Representatives but in 106, he failed to bid for the seat as governor of New York (Wierichs, 00, 8). Kane aspired to become president by also running to become governor of New York but he also married the presidents niece in the film, Emily Monroe Norton.


Both Hearst and Kane were also embroiled in affairs with other women. The only difference is that Hearst truly loved his mistress and there was no breakdown in his unmarried relationship with her. His mistress was a young and successful silent film actress named Marion Davies (Dirks, 00). On the other hand, Kane had a souring affair with opera singer wannabe Susan Alexander, the primary cause of Kanes fall from grace. Unlike Davies, who was successful, Alexander suffered humiliating failure as an opera singer, attempted suicide and finally left Kane after she became fed up with him. Hearst and Kane also did their best to promote their mistresses popularity, with Hearst buying a film studio and Kane buying an opera house (Dirks, 00).


The last striking similarity between Hearst and Kane was that they both own glorious mansions of their own. Hearsts mansion was dubbed Hearsts Castle (www.hearstcastle.com) and was situated in San Simeon, California. Kanes extravagant, palatial Florida mansion was called Xanadu Both Hearst and Kanes mansion was also filled with expensive art collections as well (Dirks, 00).


Hearst died at the age of 88 on August 14, 151 in Beverly Hills, California. All his five sons from his marriage with Willson followed their fathers glory into the media business and became very successful (Wierichs, 00, ).


. The Man behind Citizen Kane


Orson Welles, the boy genius behind Citizen Kane was born George Orson Welles to Richard Head Welles and Beatrice Ives Welles, May 6, 115 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He had one brother but his brother was sent away to school from home, making him, in essence, an only child. At the age of four, his parents were separated (A Welles Biography) During Welles early boyhood, his father had become increasingly became an alcoholic and not inclined to work while his mother, a former pianist became sickly. His mother died when he was nine and his father, in 10.


Welles had found his early education to be very tedious but in 16, rescue came in the form of enrolment in the Todd School. At eleven, he was introduced to the schools revered headmaster, the man who became his first real father, Roger Hill. It was here that Welles became an organiser of public entertainment, an impresario (A Welles Biography, 00). Given free access to the campus theatre and printing press and encouraged by the Hills, Welles wrote, directed and performed a variety of roles, including that of the Virgin Mary in the school nativity play (A Welles Biography, 00)!


Everybody told me from the moment I could hear that I was absolutely marvellous, Welles once told an interviewer (About the Program, The American Experience, 7) and marvellous indeed he was. According to The American Experience, never one to shy away from trouble, Welles built his career on a streak of controversial productions--the more upset and swirl he could create, the better. His production of Macbeth (16) was set in Haiti and employed an all-black cast. His Julius Caesar (17) was also re-imagined as a contemporary drama about fascism and finally, his radio staging of War of the Worlds (18), about Martians invading Earth, caused so much terror and uproar it might have ended his career. However, his talent and ferocious energy seemed to lift him above the fray, delivering him unscathed to his next challenge and when he graced the cover of Time magazine, he was only twenty-three years old (About the Program, The American Experience, 14).


The following year after War of the Worlds, Welles entered the Hollywood scene, having received the best contract ever for his first Hollywood film, a contract from RKO Studios giving him a complete free hand to write, produce and direct his own films (Lodge et al., (11), p. 16). He famously declared I dont want money. I want authority (Orson Welles Biography, BBC Education, 14). Based on this declaration itself, we can see that Welles modelled Kane after himself very much. Welles wanted sole power to do things his way and do not like to be led by others and so was Kane, who did not like to be led under his guardians leadership and he always does things his way without considering others.


Moreover, according to BBC, the terms of the contract Welles accepted aroused resentment and his intention to cause some disturbance in the industry did nothing to endear him to Hollywood. In addition, according the American Experience, his first project was actually proposed by his co-writer, Mankiewicz whom suggested the story of Hearst and Welles seized on the idea as his last best chance to make a film that works (About the Program, The American Experience, 15).


However, Citizen Kane proved too close to the truth for Hearst, who saw a portrait of him in the film. Nevertheless, Hearsts actions, which delayed the release of the film, had given the film wonderful publicity (Orson Welles Biography, BBC Education, 15). The film was finally released in 141, the week of Welles 6th birthday. But by this time it was released, Welles had already left Hollywood, having attacked the studios in Hollywood in print, citing having problems with the studio system and the fact that his other films did not garner box-office success.


In 147, he moved to Europe where he continued his career in theatre and filmmaking, most notably the play Chimes in Midnight.(Orson Welles Biography, BBC Education, 17). Welles impact on cinema was both immediate and lasting, drawing from his experience in radio and experiments with wide-angle and deep-focus lenses to develop dramatic action within the frame. His career as a director was brilliant but erratic. His career was strewn with many unfinished projects. However, at his peak, Welles was regarded as one of the giants in cinema. Welles died in 185 and was buried in Spain.


4. An Analysis of the Main Characters in Citizen Kane


4.1 Charles Foster Kane


In the film, we are introduced to Charles Foster Kane, old and dying, lying on his bed in the castle-like Xanadu (resembles the castle from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), barely whispering the word rosebud before he died. This set the premise for an exploration of Kanes life, from his boyhood, youth, life as a newlywed, middle age and old age, through a series of flashbacks. The News on the March newsreel sequence only offers a glimpse of the life Kane leads but in reality, the character Kane is one that is shrouded with extreme complexity that is difficult for one to comprehend. To illustrate this point, we have the scene where a defeated, old Kane walks past parallel mirrors, which multiplies Kanes reflection infinitely. His multiple reflections in this scene were used as metaphor to depict the complex nature and a lost of identity as well as a reflection of the complexity of his life.


A powerful newspaper owner, Kane was many things to many people, both in life and, as seen in retrospective in the film, in death as well. He was considered a colossus, a titan, a man who considers himself superior from others, as depicted in the promotional poster for the film (Appendix I). This section will detail what Charles Foster Kane was to five different people in the film.


Kanes boyhood was recounted in flashback through Walter Thatchers memoirs. Here in the first scene, we see the consequences of young Kanes separation from his mother and father, and the decision that Kane be raised under the guardianship of Thatcher to prepare him for his inheritance. Themes of a loss and a stolen childhood comes into mind as we saw Kanes mother gave Kane away to Thatcher with a hope for a better life for him. We see that young Kane was always in focus as Kanes parents and Thatcher discuss his future, which shows that he was the centre of their discussion. When Mrs. Kane informed young Kane about where he will be going, he kicks Thatcher and looks at him with such contempt and resentment, showing how much he dislikes the banker. We also see in another of Thatchers flashback sequence of Kanes lifelong rebelliousness towards all things Thatcher as well as other prominent figures. Thatcher was reading a series of newspaper articles that must be hitting out at him, judging by his furious looks could illustrate this. The confrontation that ensued with Kane and Thatcher further shows what Kane thinks of Thatcher, contempt and a sense of resentment. He seems to relish in attacking Thatchers interest but Thatcher could only glare at him. Thatcher himself had disliked Kane as well, judging from his memoirs the reporter is reading, a common adventurer, spoiled, unscrupulous, irresponsible. Those words practically summed up what Thatcher thought of Kane, a scoundrel.


Next, we see Kane from Mr. Bernsteins point of view. Through the loyal Bernsteins eyes, we experience the most uplifting and optimistic appraisal of Kane. He relates to us how Kane become a newspaper magnate and his take-over of the New York Enquirer, in which he fired its editor, hired an expensive, top-notch staff, and enlisted his college friend Jedediah Leland a critic. Kane was at first a crusader for the downtrodden, opening his first editorial with a declaration of principles. He became a champion to the little person, exaggerating his circulation with juicy scandals, crime exposes, and, like the real-life newspaper magnate Hearst, goading the U.S. into the Spanish-American War. We also see the side of Kane where he was free of problems that would soon befall him. Most of the scenes in Bernsteins recount capture the essence that Kane is just a healthy and happy young man having a wonderful time. Bernstein also recalled Kanes surprise marriage to Emily Norton, the presidents niece, depicted in several quick scenes, beginning with Kanes return from Europe. The recounts by Bernstein show that Kane was another typical man with high aims in life, and that if Kane had not messed up, he could have been the President of USA.


Kanes best friend, Leland, provided the third flashback of Kanes jigsaw-puzzled life. Leland provided a much darker aspect of Kanes life compared to Bernsteins happy recounts. Kane, to Leland, was a bad newspaperman since the beginning, entertaining readers but never telling them the truth, just like Hearsts yellow journalism. Leland went on to describe the crumbling marriage of Kane to Emily, depicted in the famous breakfast montage sequence. This happened because Kane was more committed to his work than to his wife, his wife’s protests of him hitting out his uncle and simply because his love for Emily had died out. From Leland’s flashback, we could tell that Kane could have married Emily for her good looks or to get him one step closer to becoming the president. All this happens in a matter of years, ending with him meeting Susan Alexander and the death of his wife and son in a car accident. Kane’s affair with Susan probably came as a shock to Leland when he found out, and was probably angry, judging by his facial expression and the way he walked into the bar. Kane was a man of morals to Leland, a valuable person in society, which was why he forged a close relationship with him and came to work for him in the newspaper business. Kane was also shown as a person who allows other people into places they want to go, like letting Leland go to Chicago and later, trying to help Susan become a singer. We also see in Leland’s flashback how Kane became contradictory with himself, in a scene where he tried to bribe Leland and him tearing up the ‘declaration of principles’ that he himself wrote. In an earlier scene, Kane showed no regards to his friendship with Leland, firing him from his job. This scene, which shows Kane finishing Leland’s bad review of Susan’s show, tells us that since Kane himself was capable of doing Leland’s job, why would he need someone else to do it. In conclusion, Leland’s flashback showed to us of the man Kane had become after meeting Susan, how he had fallen from grace and became the total opposite of the man shown in Bernstein’s flashback.


In the beginning, to Susan Alexander, Kane was just another man on the street, not knowing who he really was at first. She even thought she was a magician at first in the scene where Kane was shown to be very playful (playing shadow games) and funny (Susan’s high pitch laughs confirms this). We could tell that Kane loved Susan the most compare with Emily. This was revealed in the scene where he opted to stay with Susan after his political rival exposed their relationship to Emily. This same scene also showed Kane’s arrogance as well, his unwillingness to submit to his rival’s offer to safe himself and by his words “I’m Charles Foster Kane! I’m no cheap, crooked, politician trying to save himself from the consequences of his crimes!” This showed that Kane does not need anyone to help him out of his troubles because he could do it himself.


Having lost everything, Kane felt that all he had was just Susan, whom he thought would understand him so he puts all his hope on Susan by trying to make her become an opera star. He hired a popular voice trainer to help Susan to sing better, builds her an opera house for her to perform in and he was the only one who applauded enthusiastically together with some of his associates when her performance was over. However, he became domineering, in the scene where his shadow towers over Susan, nearly pushing Susan over the edge by forcing her to sing again. Thus, Kane’s papers published positive reports that emphasises Susan’s popularity. Kane gave her everything, even building ‘Xanadu’ for her but she left him anyway. We also saw the megalomaniac side of Kane in Susans flashbacks where Kane was seen sitting on his own throne in silhouette as if he regarded himself as a king living in his own palace. The silhouette effect made him look like a sinister king surrounded by the darkness that symbolises his life.


Kane’s frustration of Susan leaving him was evident in him thrashing Susan’s room to pieces. He loved her so much but he was selfish, wanting only to be loved but does not know how to love others in return. Susan’s flashbacks proved that statement, but another point shown in her flashbacks was that Kane was actually a very patient and self-controlled man, enduring Susan’s whines of boredom and sarcasm. However, it was Susan that pushed him to slap her and the arrogant side of Kane was again revealed when he replied to Susan’s “Don’t tell me you’re sorry!” with “I’m not sorry!” No matter what Kane had done for Susan, Kane ended up alone, miserable and frustrated instead.


From Raymond, Kane’s butler’s perspective, Kane was nothing but a queer, old man. When he was talking to the reporter, Raymond always said, “I knew how to handle him”, as if he was handling a poor animal. This said a lot about how Kane was in the remaining years that he was alive. He was revealed to have become a pitiable, old man; alone in a huge palace, a shocking change from the great man he used to be in the younger days. We saw how in the last days he began to pine for his childhood days, the happy times in the mountains of Colorado, playing in the snow with his mother and father, for that was what ‘rosebud’ was, his lost childhood days. He could have been a different person had Thatcher not taken him away to grow up in a loveless environment.


In conclusion, Kane’s life and character was actually a story of one man’s journey to be loved and accepted by everyone. He was searching for someone who would love him the way his mother had loved him but he had been looking at all the wrong places. All his life his aim was to be loved and to love in return. Unfortunately, honest though he was with his feelings, he does not know how to show it. Like the words sung about him, “Who is this one?. . .Who is this man?”, we may never really know who Charles Foster Kane was or what he had wanted in life. He may have wanted to find love or he may be looking for his lost childhood possession but we may never know. The reporter, Thompson, probably knew this well by his statement, “I dont think any word can explain a mans life.”


4. Jedediah Leland


Jedediah Leland was perhaps the closest person to Kane and the most understanding of him in the film. Leland was a man with character, with the right moral values and he thought Kane had the same values as he did, which was the reason why he was willing to work for Kane. He regarded Kane as one of the most valuable person to him and therefore, he forged a close friendship with him, a friendship that had gone unappreciated and came to an abrupt end when Kane fired him.


The closeness of Leland’s relationship with Kane was evident in his retelling of how Kane’s marriage to Emily broke up. He must have been close to the family to know to what extent Kane’s marriage to Emily had become. Kane or Emily might have confided in him about their marriage problem but Emily was more likely to have told Leland about it. In the original Citizen Kane script, Leland actually paid a visit to Emily at her request after she knew about Kane’s affair with Susan (Mankiewicz & Welles, 18, pp. 108 � 110). From their conversation, we can tell that Leland was quite close to Emily since it was her who sent for him and she being grateful to him for coming. At this point, Leland was still trying to patch things up for Kane, being his best friend; this was the right thing to do. And as a friend, he was right in saying that Kane deserved what was coming to him for what he did to Emily.


In the film, it seems as if Leland was never really felt comfortable around with Kane, despite being friends for long time. Perhaps Leland’s character functions as a light source to Kane to show him which right path to take in life. It seems that ever since Kane crafted the “Principles”, Leland had become more wary of Kane’s character, especially in the scene where he was looking hard at Kane while the latter was dancing. In an earlier scene where Thompson was visiting him, Leland was brightly illuminated compared to other characters in the film, as if to stress the fact that he represents the brighter side of Kane’s conscience. Indeed, Leland had always been around Kane, as an advisor to him, to remind him of his morals and ethics, like the scene where Kane sent Leland a cheque only to be returned back to Kane along with the “Declaration of Principles” that Leland had kept all this while. The act of Leland returning the torn cheque together with the “Principles” reveals to us that he had stuck by Kane’s “Principles” all this while and to remind Kane what he used to promise when writing the “Principles”.


When Leland read about Kane’s affair with Susan, he was furious, judging by the way he walked into the bar. This shows that Leland was unable to believe that Kane was willing to take such a risk to be involved with another woman when he was still married and in the middle of an important political campaign. The fact that Leland decided to drink himself to a state of drunkenness shows that he was very upset and disappointed. The meeting that ensued with Kane in the campaign office was practically the beginning point in the breakdown of his relationship with Kane, since Leland asked to go to Chicago. It seems that he had given up on Kane and had wanted to be away from him. A trust between them was lost as well and the final straw for Leland was when Kane had broken his promise to keep his “Principles”, thus staying out of Kane’s life throughout the remainder of the film.


Leland, in actuality, was a man who values friendship but in the end it was Kane, blinded by his hopes for Susan, which destroyed a long friendship. As we can see from the film, the friendship was not a great loss for Leland, but to Kane the most. If only Kane had followed by Leland’s example, he could have led a better life, but unfortunately, it was not to be.


4. Mr. Bernstein


Mr. Bernstein, a Jew and supposedly one of Kane’s most loyal stooges, have two distinctive personalities, a comic one and an understated, yet astute, wise one. When Mr. Bernstein was presenting his perspective on Kane, he fashions a simple, amusing vision of himself, however it was up to the viewer to link material from throughout the film and thus realise that Bernsteins dominant persona was his least visible one. Who was Mr. Bernstein? At no point do we learn his first name, nor do we know how he met Kane and came to be the General Manager. The same cannot be said of the other main characters; we know how, when, or where they met Kane. We do know, however, that he has been around Kane “since before the beginning” when talking to Thompson.


As a comical character, Mr. Bernstein was clumsy when the furniture falls on him, he was a wise-ass when he speaks to the moving man, and he was a constant joker to his boss. He was also very fixated with numbers and finance as he was always doing the accounts, which rings to mind the Shylock character in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. In fact, Bernstein’s character was very much modeled after that shrewd character. Shylock was also a humorous character in Shakespeare’s play and was also concern with his finance and estate.


Mr. Bernstein also symbolises Kanes ambition and his appetite for sensationalistic yellow journalism, which was one reason why he was so loyal to him. Mr. Bernstein had always regarded Kane as his role model therefore; he treated him with very much respect, even when Kane had died. In his office, Mr. Bernstein had put up a huge portrait of Kane and at times, when referring to him, he would look up at the portrait with respect and affection. His respect towards Kane was also one reason why he was willing to help Kane in every way he can. When Kane lost in the elections, he quickly arranged to publish the “Fraud at Polls!” article in the Inquirer, and he also struggled to pay attention to Susan’s opera performance, a sign that shows though he felt the show was boring, he had to enjoy it for Kane’s sake.


However, if Mr. Bernstein portrays himself as a humorous, loyal, right hand man to Kane, how do the others treat Mr. Bernstein? Only once do we see Bernstein display a surprising degree of humanity that contradicts his bosss temperament. This was when, in Lelands flashback, Bernstein seems to express sadness at the possibility of a Leland-Kane falling out, which did indeed occur after Kane fires Leland. Despite this moment, Leland went on to describe Bernstein as being a thorn in Emilys side, and he ridiculed Bernstein as being a Kane sycophant when he showed him clapping at Susan’s performance and choosing the Fraud at the Polls type for the front page. Bernstein was especially dejected in the shots surrounding the election defeat, in keeping with his character Bernstein had wanted to ride Kanes roller coaster of power as far as possible, so a political defeat for Kane was also likewise a power defeat for his sidekick.


As for Thatcher, we saw that he regarded Bernstein as a clumsy person and a mere assistant to Kane. However, we also saw the same side of Bernstein when Kane lost in the election, only that it took place in Thatcher’s office for Kane’s bankruptcy meeting or something. We saw that Bernstein had the same serious, depressed and stunned look, again confirming that Bernstein had expected Kane to go all the way and not lost some sort of power. In Susan’s account, however, we saw the same overzealous Bernstein applauding Susan’s performance, probably in a hope to keep his boss happy. But she increased the degree of ridicule towards Bernstein by showing him falling asleep during her performance.


Raymond’s flashback, combined together with the opening sequence, was perhaps the most telling of what Bernstein’s character was actually like. Here in Raymond’s flashback we find that what we thought as one of Kane’s most loyal and faithful subjects was nowhere in sight during Kane’s final days. Bernstein was not at all in Raymond’s flashback, which happens sometime after the opera period when Kane and Susan retired themselves within the confines of ‘Xanadu’. The message here is overwhelmingly clear If Bernstein was not in love of Kane the man; he was in love with Kane the power and Kane the wealth. Where was Bernstein when Kane passes away? He was Chairman of the Board, and had nothing but time. These were Bernsteins own words to Thompson, and they reflect a tremendous amount of dissembling, for Bernstein had much more than time at his disposal.


Naturally, Bernstein depicts Kane in extremely favourable terms. Kane wrote his Declaration of Principles in Bernsteins perspective; he expanded circulation to record levels; he displayed business acumen by buying The Greatest Newspaper Staff in the World; he hosted fantastic parties; and he had great fun travelling. It was in Bernsteins best interests to glorify Kane and misrepresent his own role. The striking reality contradicting Bernsteins impressions was that Kane never honoured his stated Principles; since he made up Susan’s apparent popularity and tore his “Principles” into pieces. It was important, however, to note that Bernsteins recollection was the only one that ended on a positive note. We saw Kane, whom Bernstein declares to be the future President, riding away in a white suit with his new bride, the current Presidents niece.


Therefore, we saw that Bernstein was neither really loyal nor faithful to Kane. He only wanted to bask under the shadow of his boss’s wealth, popularity and power in a hope to become “Chairman of the Board” one day, which he did. After Kane was reduced to nothing but a shadow of his former self, Bernstein had deserted him and was not even by his deathbed.





4.4 Emily Monroe Norton Kane


We were introduced to Emily Monroe Norton Kane in the scene where Kane returned from Europe to the Inquirers office but rushes off in a hurry. Mr. Bernstein then read a message that announced the marriage of Charles Foster Kane to the Presidents niece, Emily Norton. In the subsequent scenes that followed, we would see a marriage that will slowly come to an abrupt end due to Kanes work commitments and his infidelity. Emily, together with her son, died in a tragic car accident.


We knew of the reasons why Kane chose to marry Emily, among them to be close to his dream of becoming President of USA. It could also because through Emily, he would be able to have the support he needed to become the next president, since Emily may have been a popular public figure. However, he was also quite attracted to her physical beauty but was never really in love with her at all but she did still bore him a son anyway. Her mannerism was also very formal. We can see this in the way she walks, the way she speaks, the way she dresses and addressing Kane by his formal name Charles. Emily was also very concerned with her reputation, and thus she conforms to the standards set by the society for her kind of people.


Emily was revealed to be a woman of high social status, one who belongs to the elite upper class through her relations with her uncle, the president. From the way she dresses and the way she speaks, we could tell that she had been brought up in a strict, no-nonsense environment where social etiquette were observed. Thus, it explains Emilys princess-like appearance and her no-nonsense attitude, especially in the scene where she was in Susans house. The elegant white dress that she wore was just simply awesome and beautiful, perfect for royalty and a woman of her maturity. Her no-nonsense attitude was clearly shown in those scenes where Emily found out about Kanes affair with Susan, when she made a decision for Kane and gave him a choice to stay or follow her (Mankiewicz & Welles, 18, pp. -107). Emily was also clearly disgusted by Kanes attitude when he threatened to break his rivals neck (Mankiewicz & Welles, 18, pp. 100-101). We have also saw a strong side of Emily as well as she, unlike a Susan, was in control of her emotions and did not become hysterical. Emily was also not possessive of Kane, as she was liberal minded in giving Kane an option to choose her or Susan.


Kane and Emily had always been an odd couple from the beginning. Kane was a newspaper tycoon, whose aim was to attack high-level persons while Emily was the niece of a high level person. One would expect Kane to give face to Emily and spare her uncle but he did not. Kane went on to attack the President of the USA anyway, one of the cause of the strain in their marriage. Moreover, Emilys standards were so much higher than Kanes, which would one day have caused a strain in their relationship. His unhappiness in the marriage was the cause of him involving himself with Susan. Therefore, it was not Emilys fault that Kane got involved with Susan, it was Kane himself who thought by marrying a Presidents niece would get him to become one as well.


4.5 Susan Alexander Kane


Susan Alexander Kane was the bane of most of Kanes problems later in life. It was Susan that caused Kane his political career and eventual separation from his Emily. Susan had also wanted to become a singer so Kane build a US$ million opera house in Chicago for her but she was not talented at all. Susan had also wanted to live in a palace so Kane built Xanadu for them to live in retirement. Eventually, she began to whine and moan about how terrible life was being trapped in a vast empty palace until she was fed up with Kane and left him.


Viewers were first introduced to Susan went Thompson went to visit her in the night club where she now probably now work as a cabaret, judging by her costume. She was reduced to a hopeless, haggard person, getting drunk in her own sorrow and past regrets. It was evident that Susan had regretted leaving Kane because she could have had a better life in the end with him. The once Queen Susan now mourning over the loss of one man that had truly loved her and would have given her everything when he died if she had not crushed Kanes heart by leaving him. It was probably all this thoughts running through her mind that made her hostile towards Thompsons attempts to interview her.


Through Lelands recount, we saw how Kane first met Susan in a chance encounter on a street corner and was delighted that she liked him even though she does not know who he was. He described her to Leland as a cross-section of the American public, suggesting that he believed this proves that he can be loved by the people. Kane loved Susan the most, because she captured the young part of Kane, making him feel as if he was young again. It was her innocence that attracted him towards her and because of Susans acceptance; he thought he found someone who would unconditionally love him in Susan. There was much depth in their intimacy and more quality in their relationship compare to the one with Emilys. Evidence? Susan calling Kane by his pet name Charlie instead of Emilys formal Charles. Because of this chance encounter, Kane was unwittingly drawn into a relationship that would forever alter the life of them both.


However, Susan had probably known that Kane was still married to Emily but she still went on with the relationship, proving that she was not a woman of morals. She must have also known of the consequences of her relationship with Kane but she did not stop the relationship and acted selfishly for her own interests. This happened in the scene when Kanes political rival, Boss Jim Gettys exposed her relationship with Kane. She had only one thought in her mind and that was What about me? He said my named be dragged through the mud.


She did get Kane all to himself at last, marrying him three weeks after his wife and son died in a crash. Taking advantage of his wealth and influence, Susan tried to learn to sing from an instructor only to be told that she had no talent but through Kanes pressure, she continued and when she performed on her opening night, it was disastrous. She became furious at all the bad reviews she received and was so clearly embarrassed that she vowed never to sing again. This showed that Susan was not one who perseveres but one who gave up easily. Forced to continue by his domineering husband, Susan finally cracked under pressure; unable to take the humiliation she suffered and thus, attempted suicide. Kane finally allowed her to stop singing and they both retired into their pleasure palace.


We would quickly see that power rather than love was his motivation because he insists that she stay in the castle although she comes to regard it as a joyless prison. Unable to take the boredom of living in a palace with nothing to do but jigsaw puzzles, Susan began to constantly whine and moan and gripe about life in the palace, which tested Kanes patience but he endured it because he needed her. Susans whines and complains shows that she was a very fickle-minded person, one who changes his/her mind a lot. One would also notice that Susan was always seen piecing together puzzles that depict outdoor scenery. This tells us the longing Susan had for the beautiful world outside Xanadu. To make her happy, Kane decided to go for a picnic but instead of being appreciative, she became lethal with her sarcasm, Invite everybody? Order everybody you mean and make them sleep in tents! Who wants to sleep in tents when they have a nice room of their own - with their own bath, where they know where everything is? This again shows how she changes her mind so much. She also contradicts herself, since it was she that wanted to go out in the first place.


She went to the picnic with him anyway, and there, in a tent, she again threw a temper tantrum, making scathing remarks about Kane. Kane had just about enough with her and slaps her but she just glared at him. At that point, we would know that Susan would soon leave Kane to his misery. Indeed, the marriage ended when Susan could no longer tolerate Kanes not-so-benevolent despotism. As she told Thompson, Everything was his idea, except my leaving him.


In conclusion, we see that Susan is a character that contradicts herself very much and changes her mind quite a lot as well. She wanted to sing but then she wanted out. She wanted to live in a palace but then wanted out because it was boring. She loved Kane but she had enough of him because of his despotism. In the end, she regretted ever leaving him because she now has no more money, also showing how materialistic she had become by being with Kane.


4.6 Mr. & Mrs. Kane


We are introduced to Kane’s parents, Mr. James Kane and Mrs. Mary Kane through Thatcher’s recount in a memoir read by Thompson in the Thatcher Memorial Library. Some sort of valuable minerals were discovered on their property, thus explaining Thatcher’s visitation to Mary’s boarding house in snowy Colorado. We saw in the house that Mary was contemplating to sign a contract that also meant sending Charles Kane away to live with Thatcher. Mary’s posture was a commanding one with a stern and stiff look on her face. She had an air of superiority in the household as well compared to James who looked a bit wimpy.


At first we thought that James was the more loving one towards Charles as he tried to discourage Mary from sending him away to live with a stranger. But we saw that Mary had the final say in the matters concerning Charles’ well being in the future. This showed that instead of a father being in command of the family, it was the mother that took over the role here in the Kane’s family. But Mary’s feelings towards Charles was evident in her eyes as she looked out the window longingly at her son playing in the snow, and also by her tone of voice when she called out to Charles to pull his muffler around his neck. Then, when she said the line, “Ive got his trunk all packed . . .” it sounds as if she was sad and trying to choke back tears. If that was the case, why then did she want to send Charles away?


We would find the answer when Mary, followed by Thatcher and James, went out to get Charles. The way she speaks to young Charles was in a manner of a loving mother as she holds her son close to her, as if protecting him from somebody. We also saw that Charles was so much closer to his mother than his father because whenever his father spoke to him, he would turn to look at his mother as if to confirm what he said was true. Charles also only asked his mother and not his father when he was told he was going away, “You goin, Mom?” We find that Charles became angry and hit Thatcher, and he ran to his mother who hugged him closely to her, reassuring him as Charles cried out, “Mom! Mom!” His father apologised to Thatcher, saying, “Sorry, Mr. Thatcher! What the kid needs is a good thrashing!” to which Mary replied, “Thats what you think, is it, Jim?” James nodded saying, “Yes.” Mary then turn to look at Kane with an affectionate look in her eyes as she said, “Thats why hes going to be brought up where you cant get at him.”


Mary’s last line was enough to give us all the answer we need to explain why Mary sent Charles away. Charles’ father had not been a loving figure after all, instead, he was the abuser, who must have constantly beat Charles up until Charles lost all respect and love for him. Charles had been leaving in an abusive environment after all this time and a chance discovery of something valuable on their property led Mary to send Charles away to a place where James would not be able to lay a hand on the boy. This shows that Mary was very protective her son because her son means everything to her. She believed he would have a better life in the future growing up with Thatcher instead of spending his life in a dilapidated boarding house in the coldness of Colorado. This is Mary’s survival goal for Charles, to provide physical survival and health to her child. Therefore, Mary remains an angelic being to Charles, who would in the future be looking for the kind of love his mother had given to him.


4.7 Walter Parks Thatcher


One person that comes to my mind that resembles Walter Parks Thatcher was Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. He was very much like Scrooge in a way that he puts his business first above all else. Therefore, he was not the best person to raise a child like Kane up. A child like Kane needs warmth and affection but we do not see that in Thatcher who was probably taught not to be emotional. Thatcher was the same domineering figure that Kane would eventually become, as he tries to take control of Kane’s life. He could do so when Kane was young, like in the scene where young Kane was on the floor with Thatcher towering over him. But he was unable to do so when Kane becomes an adult.


Why would he want to agree to raise Kane up in the first place? The reason was simple, he wanted to show people that he can raise a successful person when that person is a child. The fact that Thatcher had always been single and unmarried showed that he was too busy with work to worry about having a family. He may have thought that by raising a trustworthy successor to inherit his business and wealth, he could die peacefully, knowing that his wealth are at the hands of someone he shaped up. As we all know, his dreams did not materialise as Kane was never interested with Thatcher’s world of business.


Try as he may to shape Kane the way he wanted, a symbol of success, he could not as Kane, by acquiring control of a newspaper, began rebelling all things Thatcher, from Thatcher’s business to prominent people like Thatcher. Because of Thatcher’s way of bringing him up, Kane showed much disrespect towards Thatcher when the latter became an old man. This was evident in the scene where Kane was the one standing over a sitting, frail-looking Thatcher and saying, “You’re an old man, Thatcher, and will always be one.” Thatcher must have died alone, miserable and unloved, chillingly similar to Kane’s last days. All that remains of Thatcher’s memories were all recorded and entombed in his memoir in his library.


4.8 Raymond, the Butler


Raymond is considered an important character to me because through him, we found out many details about what happened in Kane’s life that proceeds to the time Kane uttered the word “rosebud”. Many arguments have been made as to who actually heard ‘rosebud’ because Kane seemed to be alone when he died. But in the script, it was stated that Raymond was the one who was there when he told Thompson, “That ‘rosebud’ - that dont mean anything. I heard him say it. He just said ‘rosebud’ and then he dropped that glass ball and it broke on the floor. He didnt say anything about that, so I knew he was dead” (Mankiewicz & Welles, 18, p. 144).


Nevertheless, through Raymond’s memory, we saw what had become of Kane after Susan had left him. We also saw him friendless, even his closest associate, Mr. Bernstein, had abandoned him. He was alone in his great castle, except for Raymond and his other servants. Raymond was never really loyal to Kane or respectful towards him either. He had regarded Kane as a queer, old man who was something lose in the head. By the way he said, “I knew how to handle him”, one can tell how he regarded Kane, like any other animal that needs proper “handling”. During his interview with Thompson, we could see him extinguishing his cigarette on a pillar, which shows how he felt about the place.


The extent of his relationship with Kane was only until an employer-employee one. This means that him being with Kane was purely out of economical reasons, not one of loyalty. We can tell that Raymond had never really liked his boss but he never left him because he was rich and he get to stay in a palace even though it tends to get bored. Therefore, Raymond was the ideal person to recount what had happened the last final days because he was the only one there with Kane when the latter uttered ‘rosebud’.


5. The Breakfast Table Montage Sequence


Soon after Charles Foster Kane marries Emily Norton, the woman of his dreams who was brought back from Europe like one of his statues, their marriage gradually collapses. Told from Lelands flashback, this two or three minute sequence is one of the most famous and best remembered in the history of film. What made this sequence famous was how Welles cleverly used a mixture of techniques to compress time so to look as if many years had gone by in just a few minutes. Using a series of dissolves, make up, props, music and clever editing; Welles successfully created one of the most striking examples of his evocative and economical editing in the film.


The sequence began with a medium-level two-shot of Kane and Emily in relatively bright light. The table they are sitting at in the beginning was quite short, enabling them to sit closer to each other. Their conversation was teasing and intimate, visually reinforced by a shot/reverse shot exchange of loving looks, the mood was rather pleasant and they both looked youthful and exuberant. He told her she was beautiful, and when she complained of him having to leave for the office, he said he would call and change his appointments.


That exchange was followed by five more short shot/reverse shot pairs, and in each, the eyes of the couple grew increasingly wary and suspicious of each other. There was no longer an intimacy between them as the conversations were progressing in a hostile and clipped manner. The newspaper finally became a visual and verbal symbol of their growing division. In the first scene, she complained, Charles, if I didnt trust you . . .What do you do on a newspaper in midnight? Then in the third, Emily pleaded with Kane to stop attacking her uncle, the president, in his newspaper. By the fifth sentence, he did not even allow her to finish her sentence. Emily said, Really, Charles, people have a right to expect . . . only to cut off by Kane replying, What care do I give them.


Through the entire sequence, the changes in the clothing and other aspects of mise-en-scene like make up, props and music indicate that the passage of time was also a passage away from emotional intimacy. Kane changes from a good-looking tuxedo into a more formal business like suit while Emilys dress and hairstyle varies according to the time passage. The breakfast table, once unobstructed between them, was now cluttered with plants, flowers and newspapers. The sequence was then powerfully concluded with another shot/reverse shot and another two-shot. In the shot/reverse shot, Kane and Emily no longer saw each other eye to eye, as they once did but were now reading separate newspapers, him The Inquirer and her, The Chronicle. Both newspapers were rival newspapers and by having both reading these separate newspapers, it reinforces the idea that they were now opposing each other. Then, as the camera pulls back for a two-shot, we realised that the breakfast table was now much longer than the earlier one and the two former lovers were now sitting at opposite ends of the table. The lighting in this shot had a much colder and darker lighting compared to the earlier bright one, so that it establishes the dark mood of this scene.


The real time that this sequence described was most likely to be several years. Yet, through creative use of edited space and a series of conversations within that space, Welles managed to depict not just the synopsis of a failed marriage but also by linking the six encounters appropriately with flash pans, he was able to tell the entire tale of Citizen Kane. The tale was of how Kanes greatest desires seem to turn to dust almost immediately after he achieves them and also of how he consequently became a man constantly alienated in the great spaces that surround him, particularly in the interiors of Xanadu.


6. The Picnic Scene


We have seen how Welles used film as an art form to energetically communicate and display this narrative story of a man’s life through imaginative and powerful cinematography, setting, sound, lighting, editing, music and performance, like the breakfast table sequence above. The focus of this part is the picnic sequence that appeared late in Susan’s recount to Thompson. Consisting of about 0 or 5 shots and lasting for about three minutes and 10 seconds, this scene signalled the end of the relationship between Susan and Kane, much like the breakfast table sequence.


The sequence began with a medium shot of a joyless and casually dressed Susan and Kane side by side in the rear seat of a car. Kane was wearing a hat and sunglasses, representing the day that was visible through the rear window along with another vehicle. We could see that she was obviously unhappy with where she was going because the music was a Blues-like music that was very dull. The music seems to compliment Susan’s feelings at that moment in the vehicle, and the frigid distance between herself and Kane. She continued arguing with him throughout this scene, punctuated by Susan’s remark, “You never give me anything I really care about.” Kane’s expression was that of a hidden annoyance, we could never really tell through his sunglasses but we would expect him to retort but he patiently endures.


The next scene was linked by a dissolve, which was a shot in deep focus with the bright light of midday casting thick, black shadows directly under the line of cars. A new variant of dull, monotonous and muted trumpets makes the rigid, seemingly infinite stream of cars on the beach look so much like a funeral procession in their black, uniform order. The use of a Blues music piece in this shot allows a seemingly continuous flow of music that was totally absent of any abrupt change in tone or style, which was then followed by the mournful rendition of ‘This can’t be love’, obviously indicating how Susan felt about his current relationship with Kane.


A dissolve shot to the next scene showed a black singer singing the lyrics of the song above, the line “this can’t be love, because there is no true love”. Like I had mentioned, they serve as some kind of existential comment on not only the relationship between Susan and Kane but also Kane’s life. Using deep-focus cinematography, the mise-en-scene becomes vital in directing the attention of the audience to the surrounding scenes of the particular frame. We also get to see Raymond there, who shows us that the uneasy couple were unable to leave behind ‘Xanadu’ and thus, it travelled with them in the form of staff and finery. Among the sea of tents that we could see on the background, looking very much like an island surrounded by water, the brightest and closest of all was the one occupied by Susan and Kane. Set apart from the others as the only one with a canopy at the entrance, the camera zooms forward and enters the tent via another dissolve.


It is here that we saw Welles revert back to the more traditional shooting style, the shot/reverse shot. The action and dialogue inside of the tent becomes a succession of shot/reverse shot in favour of either Kane or Susan. When Susan speaks, we saw the camera focuses on Kane that we might able to see his facial expression. The same goes when Kane speaks, Susan was the only one in focus. Here we find a tired, aging and overweight Kane slouching in a chair, another remarkable use of make up to transform a man in his 0’s to look like a man in his 60’s or 70’s. Before him was an agitated Susan, kneeling on the floor, a pose seen numerous times before in the shots in front of the Xanadu fireplace and after her opera debut. Kane was lit here using low-key illumination technique to cast a shadow over the left of his face, perhaps to suggest a dark side to Kane. As Kane sits above Susan, in a domineering position again, she accused him of confusing loving with buying, a rather poignant accusation considering both Susan and Leland emphasize that Kane had an inability to love, especially in terms of the way that Kane confuses love with ownership and monetary exchange. These comments made by Leland and Susan were of significance because their comments were not contradicted by anything else said in the film and were the only attempts at explaining Kane’s behaviour. Also, it was clear by now that Kane was simply doing unto others as the bank, particularly Thatcher, did unto him.


Kane appears to be getting very tired of and bored of her continuous attacks. His obvious attempt to avoid the discussion through remarks on Susan’s volume and his wish for her to cease display his desire to avoid conflict and keep up appearances with the guests. Kane had told Susan “Youre in a tent, darling. Youre not at home. And I can hear you very well if you just talk in a normal tone of voice” (Mankiewicz & Welles, 18, p. 1), suggesting he was trying to avoid guests from listening in their conversation. However, Susan did not care went on with her furious tirade. Kane stood over Susan in a dramatic low angle shot as he tried to explain and it was here that we see the love in his eyes as his face softens at he sight of the woman he loves kneeling before him, here we felt for Kane as he breaks the silence, “Whatever I do, I do because I love you”. Susan, however, was clearly disgusted, “You don’t love me! You just want me to love you...[mimicking] I’m Charles Foster Kane, whatever you want name it and it’s yours, but you gotta love me!” the violence and poison in her voice and it’s pitch escalated the tension to a chilling climax where Kane finally broke all resolve and slapped her. In her defiance, she did not allow him to see pain, “Don’t say you’re sorry!” to which Kane replied, “I’m not sorry.”


The picnic scene ends with a close up shot of Susan glaring up at Kane and dissolving into the next sequence to a shot of Raymond who leads us to Kane to inform him of Susan’s leaving. Marking the final blow to Kane, this sequence highlighted Kane’s misconceptions of love, drawn from the theft of his childhood and his upbringing by the bank. His confusion of love with ownership and monetary exchange exhausted Susan and finally drove her away.


7. Conclusion


As smoke rises from the furnace of Xanadu, it signifies the wastage of ones life, as his possession goes up in smoke, meaningless at the end not only to himself but also to others around him. Kane died in misery, with no one to care for him as history prepares to forget all about him. This film teaches us on a lot of moral values, of how the consequences of ones actions will cause him in the future, of how a mans material gains is worthless to him when he dies and most of all, of how important it is to cherish and love those around you and not take advantage of them. Kanes life is a testimonial to those who thought that love and friends could be bought with power and material wealth when it does not. Kane lost everything in his pursuit for great power and recognition because he thought it could win him the love he had searched for a long time. Let this be a lesson to all of us.


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