Citizen Kane

May 15, 2015

The Garden Theater in Princeton is doing an Orson Welles retrospective in May and June, and last night they showed Citizen Kane. I'd only ever seen it on a little tv screen, but I just knew that it was one of those movies that would blow me away when I finally saw it as it was intended to be seen, on the big screen. And the experience did not disappoint.

There are a handful of movies that are generally considered to be the cream of the crop, the best movies EVER made. Citizen Kane usually tops that list and, although I often get in disagreements over which movies really deserve to be included in this elite group, I make no argument over Citizen Kane. It really lives up to its reputation, and seeing it at the movies was something I'll never forget.

As much as I love Citizen Kane there was one issue that kept circling around in my brain all day. It's probably way too silly and ridiculous of a pet peeve to even mention but I'm going to say it anyway -- what is it with people in movies knocking over furniture and throwing books off of shelves when they're angry? I had totally forgotten about that part of the movie until it was unfurling itself before my eyes last night and it just seemed way too cliche to be included in a film as great as Citizen Kane. Even Kane himself seemed too smart to resort to that kind of action when he was angry. He could have come up with something so much better. He could have marched down into the mausoleum living room and tossed every single jigsaw puzzle piece into the blazing fire. He could have set all of his many zoo animals loose on an unsuspecting Florida. Or, if he really had to go the destroy-things-in-a-room route, he could have flailed his arms around all through the house, knocking over each and every Greek statue until every last symbol of his quest to buy all of the beauty in the world was lying in pieces on his cold marble floor.

Other than that one tiny squabble, I feel like it really is a perfect movie. There are so many moments where you feel a wave of cinematic satisfaction wash over you, like everything is in harmony because this scene or this line of dialogue was just THAT GOOD. When Jedediah returns the check with the declaration of principles. When you've seen the movie before and Kane is telling Susan about going through his mother's old things, you just KNOW that Rosebud was sitting there among her possessions. When Thatcher tells Kane "You're too old to be calling me Mr. Thatcher," and Kane replies "You're too old to be called anything else." YES.

Finally, can I just gush a bit about the title card? It's so simple, but especially compared to the cookie cutter title cards from the same era (example / example / example) you can just feel that you're about to witness something unique. I also love how the credits are saved for the end of the movie -- you're met with this bold, bright white title buzzing over a black background and then it cuts straight to the movie.

I have a busy few months ahead of me, so I don't think I can attend every Orson Welles movie that's playing at the Garden, but I'm going to try to make it to see The Stranger on June 3rd. If you're in the area you should definitely consider going! They're also showing It Happened One Night and Shadow of a Doubt in June as well! I'm so thrilled to finally have a movie theater that shows classics in my area. It's a dream come true! :) If you're interested you can check out their upcoming films right here.


Tom said...

Hi Kate, enjoyed your post. Totally agree on the title card - that's one of my favorite parts of the whole film! Funny how I never thought about it before, but some of my favorite movies have scenes of characters smashing or knocking things over in the house! Guess I've never been angry enough to ever want to do it to my own things, haha.

kate gabrielle said...

Tom - Thank you! That might actually make for an interesting post, just a whole list of movies that feature scenes like that, haha! I've never had the urge to do it myself, either, which might be why I always find it puzzling that so many characters in movies go on furniture-smashing rampages :)

Millie said...