Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"Citizen Kane" by Orson Welles

"Citizen Kane" and "The Conformist" (directed by Bernardo Bertolucci) are sometimes called "filmmakers' films" because they are chock-full of cinematic innovations that are sources of inspiration for those who are familiar with the pressure and the anxiety of having to look through a camera lens and decide how to shoot a darn scene. In the case of "Citizen Kane", I still cannot get over the fact that it was made in 1941 by a 26-year-old young man who had never directed a feature film prior to this one.

Orson Welles basically wasted not one single frame in "Citizen Kane". I bet it would take hours, if not days, for a diligent student of cinema to sit in front of a DVD player, run "Citizen Kane", and write down every cinematic innovation in that picture.

In a fantasy scenario, I can imagine Orson Welles and his enormously talented crew, including Gregg Toland (cinematographer) and Robert Wise (editor), slouching on those rickety director's chairs in front of a Moviola (old 35mm editing machine), giggling and saying things like, "Hell, man, we're gonna freak them out with this shot." Well, not exactly in those words, of course. I had not seen "Citizen Kane" for quite a while prior to this viewing last week, and I was just blown away by the camera movements, the choices of camera angles, the lighting, the acting, the visual transitions, indeed, everything about that picture. It was a spine-tingling experience to see a movie in which every single frame is perfect.

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