Citizen Kane – Why is it so great?

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Last night, Marcela and I watched one of my favorite movies, Citizen Kane. Let’s leave for a different discussion all of the technical reasons Citizen Kane is listed by many experts as the greatest American film ever made: the cinematography, the clarity, the production value of this 67 year old movie. Let’s talk about the meaning of this movie.

WARNING – this could spoil the movie, so don’t read any further if you plan on seeing this film but have not found the time to do so since 1941.

Charles Foster Kane was a young boy whose family was living on a massive fortune unknown to them. They were poor. When the fortune was discovered on the very property they lived, a trust was set up for young Master Kane and his mother sent him away to be raised by Mr. Walter Parks Thatcher, basically the bank in which the trust rested. When he came of age to claim his fortune, he was asked by his Mr. Thatcher what he wanted to do with his life. He determined that he was not interested in the financial world, he didn’t want to run the railroad, and he was expelled from the finest institutions of higher education in the land. He wanted to be a newspaper man; he thought “it would be fun to run a newspaper” to the scorn of his executor Mr. Thatcher.

The movie begins with his death in his lavish mansion and the last words “Rosebud”. The newspaper writing a piece about the life of this powerful man believed that you could tell everything about a man’s life based on his last words. What/who was Rosebud? FAST FORWARD: Rosebud was not a beautiful woman he loved at a younger age, it was not some item he could never quite get with all the money he had. Rosebud was his little snow sled that he played with as a young child. Just before he died, he saw the snow from a little snow globe that reminded him of his simple yet poor childhood. All the money he had, all the power he consolidated as an influential newspaper tycoon, all the priceless statues, art, and mansions were meaningless. The one thing he thought about was the childhood that was taken away from him by money. As the movie ends, the workers in his home toss the sled “Rosebud” into the fire, as it is only junk to them. Sadly, the threw away the piece of the puzzle that could have answered the writer’s questions concerning the tragic life of Charles Foster Kane.

Enjoy the little things. Cherish the times with your family and loved ones. Don’t live life for the wrong things only to find that you had everything you needed and threw it all away. As a follower of Christ, I find it easier to enjoy life and harder to understand not enjoying life. The joy of the Lord is my strength. I have my wife, my family, my friends, and most of all Jesus in my life. That makes life beautiful regardless of the material goods I attain.

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2 Comments

Filed under movies, time

2 responses to “Citizen Kane – Why is it so great?

  1. Movie is based on life of William Randolph Hearst, the great publisher who also happened to be a Nazi sympathizer, sad to say….everything you touched upon with regards to the movie is correct

  2. Hearst actually tried to block the movie with a media campaign against it. In a sense, it proved the premise of the movie, that power and money corrupt. Origionally, the movie was a box office bust and was panned by the critics. Also, the movie was only loosely based on Hearst, considering he was still alive and didn’t live in a Xanadu type mansion with a private zoo. In any case, one of the quotes in the movie was actually swiped from Hearst. “You supply the pictures and I’ll provide the war.” Or something to that effect.

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