Filmtip: Citizen Kane [1941]

In de nacht van zaterdag 16 op zondag 17 mei van 0:35 tot 2:40 uur op Nederland 2.

Steven D. Greydanus: Visually, Welles and legendary cinematographer Gregg Toland forged a dramatic style combining such techniques as extreme deep focus, varied camera angles including low angles revealing set ceilings, and unconventional use of lighting and deep shadows anticipating the film noir style. Individually, most of these techniques had been pioneered in other films, but Citizen Kane masterfully brought them together with unprecedented acumen and maturity.

Narratively, Welles and veteran writer Herman J. Mankiewicz jointly crafted a storytelling tour de force combining non-linear narrative, composite storytelling from multiple points of view (a technique that would later be indelibly associated with Kurosawa’s Rashomon), varying narrative forms including the famous opening newsreel segment as well as interviews and flashbacks, and a dramatic span of decades with characters aging from young adulthood (or even childhood) to old age. Their characters are complex and ambiguous, and their dialogue crackles with wit and insight.

Thematically, the film tackles the mystery of man from nearly every conceivable angle except religion — love, happiness, money, power, sex, marriage, divorce, politics, the media, celebrity, despair, death — in a sweepingly ambitious study that asks anew the 2000-year-old question, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

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