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Citizen Kane
dir. Orson Welles / USA 1941 / 119’
subtitles: Polish


Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead, Ruth Warrick, Ray Collins, Erskine Sanford


Oscar 1942 – best screenplay, New York Film Critics Circle Awards 1941 – best film

Film description

What more can you say about a film already thoroughly analyzed in film history textbooks, called the ultimate masterpiece, and perched atop greatest film of all time rankings for decades? For purely argumentative reasons, I want to write that the film has not aged well and is not as masterful as all claim.

Still, something keeps me from doing that. The revolutionary (for its time) narrative and technical approach used by Orson Welles (deep-focus photography, frog’s eye view shots, inventive use of lighting and shadow, etc.) are almost obvious today. The film’s innovative form – the life of one man, publishing magnate Charles Foster Kane, told from various points of view, has now been used in dozens of films, both excellent and pedestrian. Despite all that, I cannot commit the film to the dustbin or museum shelf because its mystery continues to be enthralling.

Citizen Kane operates on many levels: existential (a fable about the mortality of even the most powerful individuals), philosophical (we can never know the whole truth about another person), political (an inside look at the workings of American democracy), or sociological (a portrait of the upper classes). The plot offers yet another take on the classical tale of rags to riches or from idealist to cynic. Forget everything ever written about Citizen Kane and watch with an open mind.

Bartosz Żurawiecki

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