Film Analysis: Citizen Kane

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Citizen Kane is directed, produced by and stars Orson Welles and was made in 1941. Citizen Kane does not come under one specific film genre but falls under the heading of several interesting genres, which include biography, narrative, detective and news-paper reporter genre. ‘Film Noir’ is also associated with Citizen Kane as it has many genres but also a very specific style that differs from the classical norm of Hollywood movies. This movie became extremely significant for its time and changed the face of film history. Orson Welles brought about a new way of filming with his use of low angle shots, three point lighting, transition shots and deep focus. Orson Welles also has an unusual form of narrating and an extremely varied style. Welles…show more content…
Before Citizen Kane came along film making in Hollywood had become predictable, nearly all movies followed the same structure regarding lighting, camera angles and the set. Orson Welles came onto the scene and began to change the way directors would make use of filming techniques for many years to come with the help if Greg Tolland.
Citizen Kane is renowned for its amazing cinematography and one of the techniques it is well-known for is ‘deep-focus’. Deep-focus is defined as ‘a camera technique that affords great depth of field, keeping both close and distant planes in focus at the same time’ (American Heritage@Dictionary of the english language, 2011) . Welles uses deep-focus throughout the film and a good example of this is the shot of Kane’s mother signing her son over to Thatcher (David Bordwell, 1979, p. 334). At first this shot just seems to be a long-shot of Kane as a young child, but the camera moves back to show that he is actually outside in the
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There are a larger number of transitions all the way through the film varying from fades to dissolving. The beginning of the film includes a fade-in, ‘a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, in a series of craning movements upward the camera travels over a set of fences, all matched graphically in the slow dissolves that link the shots’ (David Bordwell, 1979, p. 332). Welles uses dissolving shots to connect shots to give an illusion that the camera is drawing forward when there is actually no forward movement. ‘This pattern of our penetration of the scene returns at other points in the film, the camera moves towards things that might reveal the secret of Kane’s character’ (David Bordwell, 1979, p. 333). Orson Welles was the first director to use low-angle shots in a film this made Citizen Kane stand out from other movies that were also being produced during its time. XLow-angle shots had never being used in films before because of the sound stages in Hollywood, if a director was to shoot a low-angle shot all the microphones and lights that hung above the actors would be visible. Welles proved to be extremely creative and overcame this obstacle so that he could incorporate low-angle shots in Citizen Kane. Welles built special sets that had ceilings to hide microphones and lights that hung above so that from now on when shooting a low-angle shot they were unable to be seen. This was hugely significant to
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