Citizen Kane: The film that William Randolph Hearst despised the most.

Arts & EntertainmentTelevision / Movies

  • Author Michael Orfanos
  • Published April 28, 2012
  • Word count 682

Citizen Kane is accepted by most film critics today, as the greatest film of all times. The film was also ranked 1st in AFI's edition: "100 movies list", and became an inspiration for director Steven Spielberg. The latter not only bough Kane's "rosebud" sled in 1982, but also paid homage to Welles' film (government warehouse where full of artifacts placed in boxes) in 2 Indiana Jones movies.

Citizen Kane is a basically a drama film, having as a key figure Charles Foster Kane (played by Orson Welles)- a tycoon living his last years in his vast estate called Xanadu in Florida. Kane is portrayed as a bitter old man, living alone and unhappy, despite being surrounded by immense wealth. He dies while holding a snow globe and whispering a mystery word: "Rosebud". News reporter Jerry Thompson decides to find out what is "Rosebud", thus he starts interviewing all Kane's associates, family and friends, and by doing so, the story plot starts to unfold. One the key points of the film is the ending scene, where we can see Thompson fails to solve the riddle of Rosebud, and admitting that : " Mr. Kane was a man who got everything he wanted and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn't get, or something he lost". However, it is revealed to the public that Rosebud was the name of Kane's sled (from his childhood), that is portrayed as thrown by Kane's battler to a fireplace in order to be burned. The symbolism of the scene is very powerful: Charles Foster Kane, a tycoon & dominant public figure-with his dying breath-is revealing to the public his desire for his lost childhood; the only actual time that he was truly and utterly happy.

It is no secret, that script writers Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles used W.R. Hearst as a principal source for the character of Charles Foster Kane. According to film historian Don Kilbourne: "Much of the information for Citizen Kane came from already published material about Hearst... some of Kane's speeches are almost verbatim copies of Hearst". Both script writers publicly denied any connection between Kane and Hearst, however it seemed that the more they denied any relation to Hearst, the more public came to believe that is an actual biography of Hearst and a severe criticism to his life and actions.

Perhaps the most characteristic scene that reveals the inner connection between Kane's character and Hearst, is when Kane is portrayed as a profligate collector of world artifacts:

-Bernstein: "There's a lot of statues in Europe you haven't bought yet"

-Kane: "You cant blame me. They've been building statues for some 2000 years and I've only been collecting for 5"

Afterwards, Welles had to admit that this specific characteristic (of Kane) was directly taken by Hearst. "And it is very curious that a man who spends his entire life paying cash for objects he never looked at" Welles said "he just acquired things, most of which he never opened, remained in boxes".

William Randolph Hearst, was enraged with the released of the film, because he was certain that it was basically a parody of his character. As a consequence he banned any advertising, reviewing or mentioning of it in his papers. He also tried (through Louis Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) to purchase the movie rights and destroy all movie copies, RKO (Kane's production company) denied steadfastly. Hearst, also tried other ways: He paid major movie theatres in order to ban the film, and started a series of defamation articles (from various papers owned by Hearst) against Welles. The film despite these setbacks managed to be released at the cinemas and managed to rank 6th in sales tickets for 1941.

Last Monday, Jeebboo ( the well known trivia/quiz online game, posed the following question to its members: "How many Oscar nominations Orson Welles's film "Citizen Kane" got awarded for? A. 4, B. 7 or C. 9" ? The correct answer is C.9 and are the following:

• Best Motion Picture

• Best Director

• Best Actor

• Best Writer (won)

• Best Art Direction

• Best Film Editing

• Best Cinematography

• Best Music

• Best Sound Recording

Michael Orfanos is an ardent online author with many of his articles published in various sites.

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