Edit Blog Post
Published: April 7th 2020
In these coronavirus times, I stay indoors playing online chess, listening to music, reading books, writing blogs and watching movies. I aim to watch one movie per day. I’m incapable of downloading movies, and I haven’t got Netflix, so I depend on Youtube. Many good movies are not to be found on Youtube or, if they are, they soon disappear. ‘Casablanca
’ is not there. ‘High Noon
’, the greatest western, is there but only in bits and pieces. Years ago ‘Quatermass and the Pit
’, one of my all-time favourites, was there but, alas, no longer; it has been removed, I assume, for copyright reasons. The same, no doubt, will happen to John Schlesinger’s magnificent ‘Far from the Madding Crowd
’ that, magically, turned up on Youtube this year and which I watched for the third or fourth time.
Yesterday, while browsing Youtube, I was amazed and delighted to find a good copy of ‘Citizen Kane
’ and spent a pleasant two hours watching it. Yes, I am damning it with faint praise; my use of ‘pleasant’ will be explained later.
Today ‘Citizen Kane
’ has the reputation of being the greatest movie ever made. However, at the 1942 Oscars it was nominated in
9 categories but picked up only one award – for best original screenplay. It was overshadowed by ‘How Green Was My Valley
’, which won 5 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. Since then, the reputation of ‘How Green Was My Valley
’ has plummeted, while ‘Citizen Kane
’ has acquired legendary status.
I have watched ‘Citizen Kane
’ at least three times, the most memorable being in London on the big screen. I think it is one of those epic movies more suited to the cinema than the living-room. Anyway, I watched it again yesterday on TV and, yet again, I was underwhelmed.
There can be no doubt that ‘Citizen Kane
’ is a magnificent technical achievement. It should have won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Cinematography. Even a non-technical movie-watcher like myself can see that. It tells its story in a complex non-linear manner which, at times, is visually exhilarating, and the movie is held together by the quest for ‘Rosebud
’, the mysterious last word that Kane utters on his deathbed.
The significance of ‘Rosebud
’ eludes everybody except the audience. As we watch Charles Foster Kane’s childhood sled, together with other
junk, being thrown into the furnace at Xanadu, we see the word ‘Rosebud
’ written on it. ‘Rosebud
’ is surely a symbol for Kane’s childhood, when he was happier on his sled than he ever was as an all-powerful newspaper tycoon.
As I say, the significance of ‘Rosebud
’ holds the movie together, and it is very clever. So is the photography, the editing, the direction, the writing – all very clever. However, the movie doesn’t knock my socks off because it lacks one vital ingredient: emotion.
I really do not care at all about the protagonist, Charles Foster Kane. He does not engage my emotions at any point. When his private life is falling apart, I couldn’t care less. Even after working out the meaning of ‘Rosebud
’, I am left cold. Kane comes across as a showman, a crass materialist and an enigma, whose public self is always on show and whose private self is hidden. Perhaps the movie would have engaged me more if there had been greater emphasis on the psychological roots of Kane’s behaviour.
’ reminds me somewhat of George Eliot’s ‘Middlemarch
’, a stupendous technical achievement but not one of my favourite novels. Why?
Because it lacks soul; because it does not engage my emotions as, say, ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge
The movies I mentioned in my opening paragraph – ‘Casablanca’, ‘High Noon’
and ‘Far from the Madding Crowd
’ – mean far more to me than ‘Citizen Kane
’ because they engage me emotionally. I am moved by Rick Blaine’s self-sacrifice and by Farmer Boldwood’s all-consuming love. Most of all, I am moved by that other Kane - Will Kane in ‘High Noon
’ – who does what a good man has to and, against all the odds, defeats the forces of evil. No, ‘Citizen Kane
’ may well be the greatest movie of all time in terms of innovation and cinematic technique, but for this viewer it falls short of true greatness. I prefer ‘High Noon
’ and 'Casablanca
Tot: 0.126s; Tpl: 0.009s; cc: 11; qc: 32; dbt: 0.0495s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.1mb