Cinematic Techniques in Citizen Kane

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Submitted By blaine
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Orson Welles' film Citizen Kane has been consistently ranked as one of the best films ever made. A masterpiece of technique and storytelling, the film helped to change Hollywood film-making and still exerts considerable influence today. However, at the time of its premiere in 1941, it was a commercial failure that spelled disaster for Welles' Hollywood career.
Within the maze of its own aesthetic, Citizen Kane develops two interesting themes. The first concerns the debasement of the private personality of the public figure, and the second deals with the crushing weight of materialism. Taken together, these two themes comprise the bitter irony of an American success story that ends in futile nostalgia, loneliness, and death. The fact that the personal theme is developed verbally through the characters while the materialistic theme is developed visually, creating a distinctive stylistic counterpoint. It is against the counterpoint that the themes unfold within the structure of a mystery story. Its theme is told from several perspectives by several different characters and is thought provoking.
Techniques such as single source lighting, creative use of shadows, montage, obscure camera angles, and deep focus photography make the film more enthralling visually, but also contributed to the narrative and many of the themes. The most defining stylistic element of Citizen Kane is the lighting. Welles meant for it to be a dark picture, unlike anything that had been filmed up to that time, so he used single source lighting by having a single stream of light within the scene leaving everything else to darkness. The object was to make the lighting seem less artificial, but also to use single lighting devices in order to give the scene a certain ambience.
Perhaps the most memorable use of a single source lighting is the first scene following the “News of the March”, where…...

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