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Customer Review

978 of 1,068 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ok...everyone relax!!!!, October 19, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Citizen Kane [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I had no intention of writng a review, but after reading several I couldn't stop myself.
It seems like most of the people here are falling into two camps, the "Film Snobs" and the " Folks whose brains have been rotted by MTV, etc..."
The comments of the"MTV people" seem to be typified by this quote I picked from out of many bad reviews: "Maybe you intellectual, artsy types go for this, but give me Star Wars any day!"
Where the "Snobs" counter back with:
"I cannot think of another film which so challenges the viewer time and time again. I still pick up little nuances, incredible effects and camara angles, and overlapping dialog on subsesquent showings. Gregg Toland's camerawork is justifiably among the most memorable in film."
Oh boy!
I, of course believe Citizen Kane is a great film, but I believe both sides in this argument are missing the point.
I really wish those who defended this movie spoke about it in human terms, rather then talk about the camera work, or Welles' age or it's "impact" on film history.
It is great because (if you let it)it will tell you a deeply emotional story.
It is no accident that the very first and very last image of the film are the same. A locked gate with a sign that says,"No Trespassing." For in this movie, Kane is a guy with a virtual "no trespassing" sign around his neck. He is a man who wants so deeply to control those around him, to FORCE them to love him, that he allows nobody close. He essentially locks out all hope of love!
Give it a chance...don't expect Star Wars. Pay no attention to the camera work and special effects, they are beside the point. Welles is talking about the very saddest, deepest, loneliest part of us might find something to relate to....if you are patient.
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Showing 1-10 of 34 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 11, 2007 9:31:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 2, 2008 7:43:23 AM PDT
Suzanne says:
I think you've missed the point too. The film snobs have it right. I don't know if you've ever heard of a little known art called "film-making". It's something that's been around more than a century and has actually had a progression. Without this art, there would be no films for any of us to enjoy. Appreciating works is not just about how much they entertain you or how much you connect with the narrative. Historical context and how that art was applied at the time is an essential aspect. If we're to think of films (and all art) as communication, the artist (in this case Welles) wanted to express something. He wanted to do it through film (his medium). If all we pay attention to is what Welles said through this film, then we're missing a major aspect: That aspect is how it was said. The articulation, if you will.

Anyone can "say" a story about a man who closes his heart to people, wants to control them and gain wealth and power, but ends up a lonely old man who has lost, and wants to desperately retrieve his innocence.

That story isn't original. The search for wealth and power, and how if you get there, you'll find the grass wasn't so greener afterall.

The story is nothing new, but how Welles told it (articulated it) was. What makes this film so brilliant is not the story itself. In fact, it's no one part of the film. It's how Welles used all the parts in such brilliant fashion. Ignoring cinematography and camera work in the film is like ignoring melody in music: To ignore it is to miss a very important part of what's being said. If people ignore all the technique that went into making this film, then they're missing subtleties of Welles's artistic expression.

This isn't a film for those who love mindless entertainment. It's a film for those who love film, and the art of film-making. It isn't insipid material designed to hand everything to its audience on a silver platter. It's a challenging work that demands the full attention of its audience. And that's why the eMTyV generation hates this film so much. They can't stand any work which doesn't drop mindless entertainment in their lap.

Anyway, end rant. I'll probably put this in a review soon anyway...

Posted on Jul 22, 2007 7:01:29 AM PDT
The guy or gal was on point. Citizen Kane's reviewers seem to fall into the artsy type that seem to see everything their is to see in the picture except the deeply human message, I watch movies to experience. I call the other type vaccuous airheads. Reveiwers on Amazon do not have to watch MTV or any channel for to be an empty bag with a big bang!

Posted on Jan 1, 2008 7:32:45 PM PST
How the film was made, the angles used, the lenses used, the lighting...these things are not "beside the point". That's why this is called a "motion picture". How and why the picture moves is the point. Now, some may find this approach to watching films "artsy" and that's fine. It is, after all, art. And frankly, it's art that is too damn expensive to make and distribute and screen to be wasted on anyone who can't appreciate it for what it truely is.

By the way, Star Wars is also art. Anyone who watches "Empire" and doesn't see anything there besides lightsabers and spaceships doesn't deserve to watch movies.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2008 8:52:12 AM PST
J J BAGS says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 22, 2008 3:37:35 PM PDT
dougalmac 54 says:
I think Suzanne is absolutely right about the main thrust of her review! The cinematic tools the film maker uses to tell his story are just as important as the acting, the sets, the dialog, etc. They are the one of the important methods by which a creative film maker tells their story, and the more clever their use, the more interesting the story and the more nuance and depth the film can have.

I disagree that this isn't a film for those who love movies. A powerful, well executed movie is more entertaining than a pedestrian one. Good entertainment and quality film making are not mutually exclusive, they should be the film makers objective at all times. I am entertained by "Citizen Kane" every time I view it. It is that undeniable power of film as an art form used to tell a unique story in a unique way that sets a giant of a film like "Citizen Kane" apart from other films that attempt to reach the same level of art and storytelling, but fail for one or more reasons.

Ironically, Welles set the bar so high for himself and other film makers that I don't think he ever equalled the extraordinary combination of quality film making techniques and acting prowess in telling any other story. "Citizen Kane" will always stand as one of the best if not the best film ever made. It is compelling on every level of film making and achieves a level of excellence by which all other films are measured.

Posted on Mar 22, 2008 3:53:39 PM PDT
dougalmac 54 says:
" Pay no attention to the camera work, etc.?" Talk about missing the point. ALL of the elements Welles used to tell the story of Charles Foster Kane (William Randolph Hearst) are key to what makes "Citizen Kane" a classic by which all other films are measured. No other film combines all of the cinematic devices so cleverly and amazingly. It is the use of all the cinematic tools in Welles' film making palette that make "Citizen Kane" such a masterpiece of a movie. Comparing "Citizen Kane" to "Star Wars" is a joke by ignoramus' who have no clue about film making. Even George Lucas would agree with that. The intention of the film makers was completely different, and the times the films were made and the cinematic tools available to the film makers were completely and utterly different. It's an apples and oranges comparison that totally misses the point.

Posted on Mar 22, 2008 5:03:24 PM PDT
Suzanne, et al rightfully enjoy examining the technique behind film as it is a rich and interesting terrain. But, the point of any movie should be to tell a story and the true test of how well a story is told is not how well it impresses experts in technique, but the emotional and psychological impact that it has on its audience. For a variety of reasons, Citizen Kane's impact on a modern audience is limited, largely because the technique of telling the story is not well suited to contemporary comunicative styles. A modern viewer who is not more interested in technique than story must reframe their expectations to really enjoy the film as it was designed to be enjoyed. A Customer's point is dead on.

If you are more concerned about camera's, etc., then you are missing the real reason for this film, at least the purpose for which it was made, which was not, I'm sure, to impress film snobs 50 years after its release. I know it's tough for the "experts" to feel what A Customer is saying because I'm a speech coach who still flinches every time I listen to a politician give a speech. I have the same problem in a different field. But you experts must learn to see things from a normal audience's perspective or you will never be a reliable judge of effective technique in storytelling no matter the medium. The ultimate test of a speech is not what I think of it, nor is the ultimate test of a film what people in the industry think of it. Nor should it be. Suzanne, your art will not progress if it is not focused on real audiences.

Posted on Mar 31, 2008 4:55:04 AM PDT
Ryan Rogers says:
I agree with the customer and J. Hoelscher. Suzanne, Wimpers, dougalmac_54 fail to realize WHY Citizen Kane takes the top spot. Gregg Toland used the same camera angles and such with The Long Voyage Home. It's not quite as remembered because Welles took a known story and added everything to make it something different. It was about the different story aspects, the use of voice-over to connect parts of time. It was about the STORYTELLING, the dynamic and powerful story attached. This might've been Welles's first film but this wasn't Toland's. They found a way to take a story as ancient as time and do something different with it.

This is the same reason why The Godfather is so revered. It's not because of what wonderful things Coppola can do with the camera, it's the story. Billy Wilder once said he didn't care for the usage of camera angles his contemporaries Hitchcock and Welles were using, he stuck to the story. Hitchcock even said you can't have a good movie without a good script.

You won't find camera angles in a script.

Posted on Jun 15, 2008 8:58:22 AM PDT
K. Marcantel says:
Camera angles? Film-making techniques? MTV airheads? Talk about "can't see the forest for the trees"!

Folks, it's just a really great movie; if not controversial for some.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2008 7:53:12 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 2, 2008 8:00:07 AM PDT
Suzanne says:
[[[the point of any movie should be to tell a story]]]

I would very much argue this point. I think story has become, almost by tradition and default, the "focus" of moving pictures only because artists aren't clever enough to use film to NOT tell a story and audiences aren't receptive enough to listen if they did. A good majority of my favorite films are those that eschew traditional storytelling. While CK isn't one of these films, it does show to what lengths film-as-storytelling can go. But I think of films like 2001, which challenge the traditions of narrative and characters, and The Man With the Movie Camera, which has no story at all. I also love the films in the New Wave of Taiwanese Cinema which are almost always extremely light on story as they don't focus on contriving drama and events, and therefor something more subtle comes through in them.

[[[and the true test of how well a story is told is not how well it impresses experts in technique, but the emotional and psychological impact that it has on its audience.]]]

I think the emotional/psychological impact is only one small part of how to measure a great film or any great art. It's not difficult to be mawkishly emotional and manipulate an audience into an emotional reaction. To me, the true test of a great film is when it's able to effect people aware of all the "tricks of the trade". If you're able to trick the tricksters then that is indeed an accomplishment.

[[[Suzanne, your art will not progress if it is not focused on real audiences.]]]

What determines "real audiences"? Anime effects "real audiences" in the East but it's a niche "genre" (it's not a genre) here in the West. Hou Hsiao-hsien effects a small audience, but his fans tend to be extremely devoted to what he's doing. Isn't that better than having a humongous superficial fanbase? Point is, all art, IMO, should be focused on the audience of the artist first. I agree with the proverb that if an artist makes something that's interesting to him/her then it should be interesting to others. I'm one who despises film that cheaply panders to audiences just to make a buck.
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