Analyzing Orson Welles Citizen Kane: Classical Hollywood Realism

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Marilyn Fabe argues Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles, “marks a grand synthesis of realism and expressionism in film form.”(99) Welles brilliantly creates a foundation of realist characteristics and techniques, while at the same time, introduces elements and themes of expressionism through his innovative and experimental editing and cinematic style.
Although traditional realist aspects were implemented in the film, it is Welles’s departure from the classical continuity editing and cinematography that most effectively establishes realism. The unconventional techniques that Welles uses in Citizen Kane are deep focus cinematography and longer takes. The use of deep focus cinematography captured all objects in the frame, regardless of their …show more content…

When analyzing Classical Hollywood Realism in comparison to Italian Neorealism, and their contrasting characteristics, the broad spectrum of Realism becomes increasingly evident. By breaking down the two styles into their narrative structure, editing and cinematography, as well as their acting and mise en scene, it can be seen that though both types of cinema are referred to as a form of realism, they are distinctly different.
Classical Hollywood cinema acquires a goal driven plot with a comprehensive resolution, of which the narrative contains a strong cause and effect relationship. The conflict that is presented is portrayed as a result of human nature. The stories for the most part were romanticized with a predictable happy ending. One of the most important aspects of classicism is its distinct continuity editing style. Intending to be seamless, through the use of techniques like shot reverse shot and eye line matches, the editing serves to enhance the story telling of the narrative. Fluidity is created by condensing the action with continuity cuts to illustrate the plot’s causal relationship. Overall, the main objective of classical realism is to tell a story in the most efficient and entertaining way possible. Because of this, highly professional actors are cast to give a dramatic and vastly expressive performance to further contribute to the story telling. In addition to the actors, typically an elaborate set is built with extravagant props and costumes, for this same

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