Blibby Needs MOFO's HELP! Citizen Kane!

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Lets put a smile on that block
Hey Dudes, the time has come, i call on your collective uber brains of movie knowledge to help me out. Please! (If this thread is in the wrong section, my apologies )

I am currently writing an essay that is worth quite a lot towards my English Degree and it happens to be about the master piece that is Citizen Kane. I am writing about modernist techniques in the film, and i have a few questions that i'm sure some of you trivia buffs may know the answer to, if you can back them up with sources that would be FANTASTIC.

My first question, Does anyone know, roughly, how many films are actually listed on www.imdb.com? a ball-park figure would even be fine.

2nd Question. What was the first film to be released at the cinema? or shown to a public audience and when? wasnt there one with a train coming towards the audience and they thought it was gonna splat them all or something?

Plus if anyone knows anything about modernism in Kane that would be great, its very interesting so disuss your ideas here!

If any of you lovelys can help you will awarded with powers beyond your wildest dreams....and rep points....and ice cream.
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So many good movies, so little time.
"The main reason for the unusually extensive use of special effects on Citizen Kane is financial. Many scenes require large, extravagent sets which are too expensive to build, but possible to achieve through trick photography. The key component of Kane's special effects is the optical printer - a device which enables the filmmakers to create complex images through seamless overlapping of independent components (i.e. a mette-painting of an audience blends perfectly with the footage of Kane delivering his speech). Linwood Dunn, the optical printer pioneer, is in charge of providing Kane with most of its elaborate backdrops and foregrounds (city blocks, exotic locations, crowds, complex interiors) as well as wipes, fades, optical zoom effects and extreme close-ups."
The History of Cinema for Beginners
Jarek Kupsc
1989
p76
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So many good movies, so little time.
Edwin Stanton Porter's The Great Train Robbery (1903) was one of the first. At the conclusion of the 12 minute film (lengthy for that time) a bandit fires his pistol directly at the audience. The viewers try to dodge the bullet in panic.

Ibid.
p 5



Lets put a smile on that block
Thanx Jack, thats some good stuff. I'm ok with talking about the imagry in the film, although i haven't yet read anywhere about those backdrops your source mentions, i always wondered what i could say about that. The layering affect those 'mette- paintings' create, like when kane and Susan are in the woods at the picnic, creates some incredible imagrey, and it ties in with the layering of the plot and Kanes character, several layers of a Man that each narrator is trying to peel away to find the true Kane. Great! Anyone else? how bout those questions?



Lets put a smile on that block
Thanks for your help Jack. As for the rest of you, you all seem to be a bit rubbish! Questions...on a movie forums?? madness. Oh well, i guess Citizen Kane either isnt your type of film, or you just all are ignoring me.

Anyway, Here is the essay in full....i warn you, it is MAMMOTH.

None of you will probably read it anyway...

Consider the ways in which the ideas and techniques of modernism have been translated into the genre of film with reference to Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane.

The above quote highlights the theme that runs throughout Orson Welles Citizen Kane. The pursuit to find the truth about one man’s life. The pursuit for reality, a theme widely explored in modernist fiction. The aim of this essay will be to examine the modernist techniques that Welles uses in his film to explore this theme. Modernism is a movement that is usually related to literature and art that experimented with the movement at its height in the early Twentieth Century, but with the release of film, a new medium allowed artists to express themselves, and Welles certainly did this with his film Citizen Kane. The aims of this essay will be to explore the modernist techniques used in Citizen Kane that experiment with film. We will also look at the transition of modernism, a typically literature and art based movement and how it transfers to the genre of film. When looking at Citizen Kane, we will draw comparisons with modernist techniques used in several novels that we have looked at over the course, such as Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and Katherine Mansfield’s collection of short stories, The Garden Party. Citizen Kane is a story about one man’s life, a wealthy, powerful man in the public spotlight. The film is told through several different perspectives, with the ultimate goal to find the meaning of Charles Foster Kane’s dying word, “Rosebud”. The film uses several modernist techniques to explore the intricate story and dissect the complex character of Charles Kane.
Citizen Kane is one of the most highly regarded films in the history of cinema. The Internet Movie Database, one of the largest movie databases on the planet, rates it at number eleven in its top one hundred films of all time (www.imdb.com, 10th December) with films like Star Wars beating it through popularity rather than praise of technique. Following its release in 1941, the film was nominated for nine Oscars, but only managed to pick up one, for Best Screenplay.
The films plot revolves around multimillionaire newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane, who at the very beginning of the film, we see die old and alone at his remote isolated palace, Xanadu. On his death bed, he mutters his last dying word, “Rosebud.” In an attempt to figure out the meaning of the word, and perhaps a deeper meaning and truth to the character of Charles Kane, a reporter from one of Kane’s newspaper’s, The Enquirer, sets out interviewing his past friends, lovers and acquaintances to discover the truth. It is with this plot, that Welles uses his knowledge of the stage, and modernist ideas to produce a very original and complex film.
The narrative structure of Citizen Kane is one of its most defining aspects. It is this that confuses and experiments with the story. In most stories we have a central narrative, guiding us through the plot, but in Citizen Kane we have several, offering several points of view on what actually occurs in the story, therefore making the viewer question what is true and ‘real’. This is a very similar technique to Virginia Woolf’s style in Jacob’s Room. In this modernist novel we learn about the life of Jacob Flanders through several narratives. Just as with Kane, we learn about his life from its beginning to its end from a series of different narrators, never actually learning about Jacob from himself, which is very similar to Welles’s technique. As we are hearing the story from varying points of view, we do not see the story of Kane in chronological order, and throughout the film Welles plays with time, even from the beginning we are shown the death of Kane, and then for the rest of the film we jump in and out of his life at different time periods. This fragmentation is a very popular technique within the modernist movement, and writers such as Yeats, Elliot, Ford Maddox Ford and especially Woolf, use it regularly in their work. In Katherine Mansfield’s At the Bay, taken from her collection, The Garden Party, we are given fragments of different lives that visit the bay over several days, each with their own unique experiences. Welles uses this fragmentation of the narratives and time within the film to create a montage that will help us find the true meaning of Kane and ultimately the meaning of ‘Rosebud’.
The fragmentation of Citizen Kane allows the viewer to piece together and search for the true character of Kane by looking at other peoples perspectives. Throughout the film we have five main narratives occurring. First is Thatcher’s, telling us of Kane’s childhood, and how he inherited his millions. Next is the narrative from Burnstein, telling of Kane’s beginning at his first newspaper, The Enquirer. The third narrative is from Kane’s oldest and now, ex-friend Leyland, who shows us Kane's relationships and his downfall in politics. Then we have Susan’s narrative, telling us of his affair and eventual marriage of her, and Kane’s insistence of her opera career. The final narrative we see is from Raymond the butler’s perspective, who describes Kane's final lonely years. From the beginning of the film with the delivery of the ambiguous word, ‘Rosebud’, the viewer’s interest is immediately caught, and this mechanism propels these narratives throughout the film to discovering a true meaning. However, it is within these narratives that the question arises of what is truth and ‘reality’ within the film.
Within the narrative structure of the film, we also have meta-narratives, narratives within narratives. At the beginning we have the news reel narrative, revealing the whole story of Kane's death in a manner of minutes. This news reel is a very interesting technique in the film. The film opens with a series of shots of the ominous looking Xanadu, and we see Kane die in a very haunting way, setting the film up, similar in style to a horror movie. But then in the next scene, with a loud crash of music, the viewer is surprised with the image of the news reel, cramming all the facts of Charlie Kane’s life into a short seven minute presentation. This quick change in style and tone, and introduction of the realistic news narrative totally confuses the viewer, making them question from the beginning what is real or not, a theme that runs throughout the entire film.
Throughout each narrative we receive from various characters, we have the meta-narratives of the newspaper headlines, flashing up with information about Kane’s character. When we see Susan’s narrative and we see her perform at the Opera House, The Enquirer headlines appear on the screen with headlines suggesting she is a success and a ‘sell-out’ when in fact that is far from the truth. Yet in Leyland’s narrative when we see the final breakdown of Kane's first marriage and the discovery of his mistress, the door to Susan’s apartment merges into the image of a photo of the door on the front page of The Chronicle, headlining with the truth about Kane’s affair. Even though the Chronicle is the enemy newspaper to Kane’s Enquirer, it seems to be the only paper that is portraying the truth, where as his paper does not. Not only are we bombarded with images to make us question the validity of each narrative, but the actual information within the narratives themselves can sometimes suggests a conflict of truth. In Leyland’s narrative, he talks of the break down between Kane and his first wife Emily, and in one very quick, but extremely effective shot, we see the years past, and the distance between Kane and Emily grow (In the literal sense as well, with a breakfast table between them growing longer and longer as each year passes.) However, how could Leyland know such intimate details of Kane’s relationship with Emily? Surely he could not. There are several other instances similar to this in the other narratives that make the viewer question the validity of what we are seeing. As the genre of film allows a wider use of techniques to display themes within the story, Welles uses lighting to his advantage to hint at falseness within the story.
Welles echoes this idea of ‘truth’ in his use of lighting, by hiding certain characters in shadows. When Kane decides to make a ‘declaration of principles’ for The Enquirer, he vows to always tell the truth, and be faithful to the American public, his face is hidden in the shadows as he signs, vowing to Burnstein that “These (promises) will be kept.” Later in the film, during Susan’s narrative we are shown her attempted suicide by her taking a bottle of pills. As she lay locked in her room, dying in the dark, her whole body is covered in shadow, as she waits to die. But when the doctor gives his opinion that she accidentally took too many pills, she is lying in the light, recovering. This suggests that Welles uses lighting to hide the truth, giving the viewer the feeling that what you see is not necessarily real; it is in the shadows that you must look to find the truth. When Kane signed the declaration with his face hidden in shadow, this is when we get a rare glimpse of the true ambitions of Kane, he really did want to supply the nation with the truth and fight for the American people, as we see his ambition when he rebels against Thatcher when he first visits the news room in the Enquirers office, “It’s also my pleasure, to see that the decent hard working people in this community aren’t robbed blind by a pack of money mad pirates! Just because…They haven’t anybody to look after their interests.”
Welles uses imagery very effectively to portray different layers to show the complexity of the structure of his film, just as fragmentation and imagery is used in modernism literature to the same affect. We have already discussed the imagery of the newspaper headlines revealing the meta-narrative of the story, but during the scene when we are seeing the Enquirer headlines about Susan’s debut being a success, underneath these headlines we have layered and merging images of Susan’s pained face singing out of key, and Kane’s angry looming face over the top of her, looking down. These images are also merged with flashing lights and loud noises, allowing the reader to feel the threatening tone of Kane's stubbornness not to be made a fool. During other moments in the film, Welles uses a lot of artwork to detail layers in his shots. Several shots in the film, mostly to show Kane’s luxurious property, are a series of paintings, all layered on top of one another. Layering is a modernist technique used quite regularly. With the different points of views from varying characters and the complex structure we have in Jacob’s Room, the multi-layered text is evident and we see the same effect being used, but in a more visual manner in Citizen Kane. When we see Susan sing at the Opera house, and the camera pans up to reveal the two stage men mocking her performance, the sweeping camera angles show the layer upon layer of set pieces. When we see Kane and Susan in the jungle having their picnic, we see layers of trees and images of birds and wildlife flying in the background. This idea of layers suggests that there is a far deeper structure to the film than it appears. Part of Welles’s interest in layering is his use of a pioneering filming technique called Deep-Focus. This is a technique that allows the viewer to be able to see objects in the background of the shot, just as clearly as objects in the foreground. One example of this is when Kane has taken Leyland’s mocking review of Susan’s debut and is typing it up. We see Leyland enter the room from the very back and walk towards the front of the room, where we are facing Kane finishing the review. The shot is a rather impressive one, as we can clearly see Leyland in his entire movement. This technique links with the modernist idea of telling several stories at one time. Not only do we have the several narratives going on in this film, but with the multilayered scenery and intense depth of each shot, we, as the viewer are given a glimpse of the incredible complexity of the film, just as a modernist reader would notice the complexity of the structure of Jacob’s Room.
Welles use of the deep-focus feature, also allows him to play with the use of space within the film. Throughout the film we are given large open spaces, very few shots are close up, only involving one or two objects. The majority of shots throughout the film are large, impressive shots, displaying a vast set. When the unnamed reporter enters the Thatcher vault to read his diary, the room is massive, dark and ominous, with a shaft of light beaming on the table at which he will sit and read. Welles uses the technique of deep-focus when he has his characters traversing these large rooms, changing their perspective to the audience. This is also another effect of adding layers as we have already discussed. When we see Kane signing away his newspapers when the depression has taken its toll on him in Thatcher’s narrative, his loss of power is represented by Welles use of deep focus. We see Kane, standing whilst the other characters sit, he looks defiant and proud, but he slowly walks away from them to the other side of the room, seeming incredibly small as he stands under the giant windows in the massive room. All of a sudden, it seems his image of power and dominance has already failed, even so early into the film. Then quickly, still in focus, he walks back towards the table where the camera is located, seeming to grow in size again, preparing us as the viewer to witness his eventual downfall as the film progresses.
Throughout the film Welles pays attention to the idea of rooms and personal spaces. As mentioned throughout the film we see these large rooms that the characters exist in, but we never see Kane’s own personal space. This is most likely due to the fact that we are hearing his life from other character’s perspectives, so any one of the narrators has to be in the room with him at one time. The only time we see Kane in his own personal space is when he dies at the beginning of the film. Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room uses the whole idea of rooms and spaces to explain and understand the character of Jacob. Just as with Kane, we never see Jacob alone in his own personal space. Whenever he is in his room there are always other characters in there along with him. Also in Jacob’s room, there is a moment when we get a description of his room at college, it seems empty, yet there is the hint of something else. ‘Listless is the air in an empty room, just swelling the curtain; the flowers in the jar shift. One fibre in the wicker armchair creaks, though no one sits there.’ (Woolf 1922, 49) This ghostly hint of a presence in Jacob’s room hints at the ghostly presence of Jacob. Throughout the entire book we never really get to know him, he is almost like a ghost to us. The same applies to Kane, he seems a very mysterious character, very powerful and knowledgeable, yet still distant, rather supernatural. Also as we know of his fate from the beginning, there is that feeling of foreboding for us. Throughout the film each scene will often begin with our narrator already in a room, and Kane either leaving or entering. There are many images towards the end of the film where we see Susan alone in a huge room in the palace doing her jigsaw puzzles, and Kane will enter the room at the beginning of the scene and then leave. This idea of personal space is used very well in Citizen Kane, as it almost never hints at what Kane’s true feelings are. The only other time (apart from on his deathbed) we see a scene begin with Kane in a room is towards the end, during Raymond’s narrative as we see Kane destroy Susan’s room and all her belongings. This scene then leads to one of the most famous images in the film, Kane leaving the room with the snowglobe in his hand, and walking through the hallway of mirrors, he is replicated an infinite amount of times in his reflection as he walks slowly out of the dark palace.
This imagery of Kane’s reflection replicated again and again has symbolic meaning throughout the entire film. Symbolism is a large part of modernist writing as it allows the writer to achieve a level of ambiguity and reader interpretation that they are trying to succeed throughout. Mansfield uses symbolism in At the Bay when she portrays Mrs Kember, the cool vulnerable yet feminised wife of Mr Kember. She reverses the role in their marriage and uses Mrs Kember as a symbol for the New Woman’s rising power at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Welles uses a lot of symbolism in his film to portray different aspects of Charles Kane’s life. Kane’s name alone is a symbol of power and authority, echoing his characters oppressive attitude over Susan. There are several times we see Kane reflected in objects throughout the film. We first see him reflected in the window whilst Burnstein and Leyland discuss the problems that could arise with the hiring of the Chronicles staff, echoing the fragile happiness that Kane was leading at the time, and how it would easily smash around him as his years at the paper progressed. As mentioned, when we see Kane walk through the mirrored corridor and we see his reflection doubled over and over, this is perhaps a symbol for all the perspectives of Kane that we as the audience are receiving from the different narratives. By the end of the film when this scene occurs, we have seen the Kane who made shadow figures with his fingers, and the Kane who hated the traction trust; the Kane who chose his mistress over his marriage and political career, the Kane who entertained millions, and ultimately, the Kane who dies alone. From an audience’s perspective, we do not know one Charles Kane, we know a montage of his character, pieced together from the fragmented information we receive from the people in his life. Susan’s use of jigsaws throughout her narrative is a symbol for this. Kane is the jigsaw, and as the reporter suggests at the end of the film, “Rosebud is the missing piece”. Perhaps the biggest symbol in the film though, is the sleigh at the end, or Rosebud as it is called. Rosebud is the symbol for everything that Charles Kane could not attain. As we are told at the beginning, he owns everything that a man could physically own on the planet, statues, animals, houses, factories, forests, buildings, “The loot of the world” as the news reel suggests. But the one thing he could not obtain was his childhood, and the love from his mother. For a man who has everything but love, it seems quite obvious that that is the thing he desires most, and realised he never obtained as he lay on his death bed.
In conclusion, Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane seems to be the ultimate transition of modernist methods to the genre of film. Welles manages to capture each technique and style from the modernist genre, and incorporate them throughout his film, and what we receive, as a viewer is such a complex, multi-layered film, that even now, sixty-three years after it release, it is still discussed and debated about more than ever. In order to explore modernism in film, its techniques need to be translated so that they can be effective on screen, instead of in the head of the reader of the modernist novel. In a modernist novel, such as Mansfield’s or Woolf’s, we create the montage ourselves from the fragmented narratives that we receive from the characters, but with Welles, he manages to bring together a beautiful and whole montage for us, by showing the viewers layers upon layers, not only over the plot, but over the scenery, the characters, and even right down to the editing of each scene, with every cut fading into one another, blurring the boundaries, just as Thatcher’s diary page dissolves into the white snowy garden of Kane’s childhood home. At the end of the movie, we have come full circle, with the same opening scene appearing before us in reverse as the camera climbs back over that chained fence and the “No Trespassing” sign. And just like the modernist novel, there is still the ambiguity of what Rosebud truly is, even though we know its physical representation we are still unaware of its meaning therefore suggesting that we still do not know the true Charles Kane. The same ambiguity applies to Jacob’s Room, where at the end Jacob dies and we still do not feel we know him. The modernist movement is a movement where its receivers, either the reader or the audience are constantly striving for a meaning, trying to see the montage that the fragmented pieces represent, and in itself that is what Charles Kane is attempting throughout the film. He manages to own every physical thing a human being can own, yet he still does not find what he truly desires, whether it be love, a family, his mother or his childhood, the ambiguity still remains.
“No, I don't think so. No. Mister Kane was a man who got everything he wanted and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn't get or something he lost. Anyway, it wouldn't have explained anything. I don't think any word can explain a man's life. No, I guess Rosebud is just a piece in a jigsaw puzzle - a missing piece. Well, come on everybody, we'll miss the train.”
– Newsreel Editor Rawlston, in Citizen Kane



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I read it til my eyes crossed (I'm on cold meds, but I did read the first few paragraphs!) It looks like you've made your point very well, blib. Nice work.
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Originally Posted by blibblobblib
2nd Question. What was the first film to be released at the cinema? or shown to a public audience and when? wasnt there one with a train coming towards the audience and they thought it was gonna splat them all or something?
Don't know if I'm too late but...

"(Thomas) Edison had exploited his phonograph by leasing it to special phonograph parlors, where the public paid a nickel to hear records through earphones. /.../ He did the same with the Kinetoscope. On April 14, 1894, the first Kinetoscope parlor opened in New York. Soon other parlors, both in the United States and abroad, exhibited the machines. /.../ The films lasted only twenty seconds or so /.../ Most films were brief excerpts from the acts of noted vaudeville and sports figures." (Thompson & Bordwell, Film History an Introduction, 1993, p.8)

And I'm not sure that these were the first "films" that were shown to an audience. But at least they must have been among the earliest.

The Lumière Brothers did this:

"On December 28, 1895, one of the most famous film screenings in history took place. The location was a room in the Grand Café in Paris. In those days, cafés were gathering spots where people sipped coffee, read newspapers, and were entertained by singers and other performers. That evening, fashionable patrons paid a franc to see a twenty-five minutes program of ten films, about a minute each. Among the films shown were a close view of Auguste Lumière and his wife feeding their baby, a staged comic scene of a boy sleeping on a hose to cause a puzzled gardener to squirt himself (later named Arroseur arrosé, or "The Waterer Watered"), and a view of the sea."
(Thompson & Bordwell, Film History an Introduction, 1993, p.9-10)
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Lets put a smile on that block
Thanx guys. And Sammy, if that amde your eyes cross reading the first few paragraphs, then cry for me as i nearly died writing it yesterday. I dont think i ever want to watch Citizen Kane again! NEVER!.....well maybe not for a couple of months at least....



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Hehe, cool essay. I have yet to see this film though, hence my not participating...
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The very first moving image was invented in Yorkshire, England, believe it or not. The Lumiere brothers expanded and improved their original idea and went on tours of France and the UK. I could tell you loads on this subject but I'd have to go all the way to the other side of the room and get my film studies folder and.... Forget it.
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I am having a nervous breakdance
Originally Posted by Rjoepenk
The very first moving image was invented in Yorkshire, England, believe it or not. The Lumiere brothers expanded and improved their original idea and went on tours of France and the UK. I could tell you loads on this subject but I'd have to go all the way to the other side of the room and get my film studies folder and.... Forget it.
Do like me and keep those useful film studies book on your desk next to your pc keyboard.