Orson Welles - Citizen Kane (1941), 6/10

Orson Welles’ debut and most famous film Citizen Kane is a largely enjoyable cinematic experience and undoubtedly ahead of its time, but has been surpassed by many greater films and stories since its release. The film does tell a great story and presents it quite well, especially considering the means available in the early forties. There is a remarkably creative approach to visuals and the script is outstanding, yet when assembled the film feels just like the Kane does, missing the essential jigsaw piece that it desperately needs to feel complete. From the opening sequence, a satire of newsreel, to the initial scenes setting up the investigation, there is a serious misuse of screen time. Luckily this does not persist through the entire film at this level, but this all-too-common pitfall creates a sense of dread before the story climbs back on its feet, only occasionally diverting from its narrative aim. The focus of the creator, as with its endless praise in criticism, is on the cinematography, but this simply makes the film influential and pretty, as without all components of a great cinematic experience it falls short of the greats who have all other necessary components of great film intact. If you need to interject a screaming cockatoo to wake up an audience, pacing might be an issue in need of addressing. It does, however, introduce several unique creative efforts and accomplishes them quite well in ways that are still uncommon, and for this deserves substantial acclaim. The obvious example of this is the trope of “Rosebud” and its effectively dramatic presence from its inception to the burning sled in the closing seconds of the film. Yet even with this narrative success, the effect is another technique that only satisfies as a quick jolt of emotion as a very simple metaphor for Kane’s gap in development, especially when explained quite on the nose by Thompson just before its final presentation. Still more than worth one’s time, it is an exceptional film for its era. The visionary Orson Welles created a pleasantly entertaining experience, an awe-inspiring feat of creativity and storytelling for a debut effort.