The Classics: Let’s talk Citizen Kane


Citizen Kane features all different film forms starting with German Expressionism which includes a foreboding, dark distorted home. In the beginning of the film and throughout a majority of the film there is a strong focus on everyone trying to figure out why Charles last words before death were “rosebud”. They thought it meant something significant. His home seems quite surreal with all of the statues and other items placed everywhere. Kane is a newspaper tycoon. We learn about his wives and his affair. Then we are hit with a flashback, one of five that gives us a peek at Kane’s childhood and life after that. In this flashback he is riding on a sled at the beginning and so full of joy, one he could never replicate as an adult. Then his mom says she is giving Charles (Charlie) Kane away, “so you can’t hurt him anymore” which she directs to the husband. I think that the father abused his son and that is why they gave him away. The second flashback is of a 25 year old Kane and in it we meet Kane’s best friend. Another flashback consists of Kane being congratulated. In this scene we get a bit of surrealism when women in costumes and a marching band roll in to celebrate Kane; metric and rhymic montage with the party.

Kane’s scandal is an example of metric and tonial montage because we feel badly for him. Kane suddenly wants the world’s largest diamond. It feels like a screwball comedy for a minute when he decides to marry the singer. Another example of surrealism occurs when a bird flies across the screen for no reason.  We then go back to the German Expressionism style when Kane is in a distorted mansion seen at the beginning of the film. Kane slaps his wife because of her complaining and she starts destroying statues. She follows her actions by saying how he never lets her go anyway and that they do not see enough people (friends) at this castle. Another flashback brings us to the end and we go full circle. This flashback occurs where Kane is dead, never having the love he always wanted and still no one knows what “rosebud” means. They are burning all the wood in the establishment and suddenly stamped on the back of a sled we see the word rosebud, an example of intelligence montage because suddenly we understand what was meant by Charles’s utterance of the word rosebud.

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