Orson Welles Citizen Kane

1945 Words8 Pages
To help create his debut film Citizen Kane, Orson Welles assembled a talented group of artists and technicians who together produced a film that redefined cinema forever. During the film’s production process, Welles himself stated that making a film “is the biggest electric train set any boy ever had.” By this he meant that the production studio was his playground and he intended to use every tool at his disposal. Starting from the film’s very first shot; he proves this to be true. As the film begins, the camera silently cranes up over the fences that surround Charles Foster Kane’s mansion and then slowly transitions to a montage of palatial estate. In this unique sequence the viewer understands that they are watching no ordinary film!…show more content…
The first time we see Kane is at a great distance and only in silhouette. The still, deep focused shot shows Kane framed within several doorways. The forced perspective of the doorways make him seem very small as the close down and appear to almost crush him. This framing reflects Kane’s current state of emotion as he is now alone, trapped in his house. (Note that we also see the butler Raymond in the frame looking in at Kane. This establishes his role as an observer and lends credibility to his account of the rest of the scene.) When the camera cuts closer, it is placed at a low angle so that the viewer sees the ceiling of the room within the master shot. This framing causes the viewer to see Kane looming large within the frame giving him a sense of mass and a sense of intimidating power. As Kane begins to destroy the contents of the room, the camera stays low as it follows him back and forth within the environment. While the room’s destruction was choreographed, the movement of the camera creates a sense of real chaos within the scene. This is also compounded by the fact that, up until this point, the camera work in the film is very deliberate. So to include a scene where the camera seems unhinged, adds to its impact and importance. Shot from this low angle, the destruction of the room…show more content…
Up until this point in the film, Welles and his cinematographer Gregg Toland utilize many innovative lighting techniques they brought over from the theater. For example, many times the lights were manually dimmed up and down within a scene just like on a stage. Also Welles often had characters speak while cloaked completely in silhouette to detach them from the action of a scene. The lighting within this particular scene however is very different. Unlike the dramatic stage lighting that occurs throughout the film, the moment when Kane destroys the bedroom is very broadly lit. There are several reasons for this lighting choice that lead to one conclusion. Welles insisted that the ceilings in rooms are visible to the audience. This decision meant that many of the set ceilings were actually stretched cloth through which light was shown. A person can assume this is the case in the bedroom with its light colored ceiling. There are also some harsh lights set up just outside of the left camera frame. Combined, these lights help to create a flat, evenly lit set which gives the scene a less dramatic feel and a more grounded sense of reality. Because the lighting does not detract or impact the action, the action seems more real to the viewer and less the actions of an
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