Film Analysis (Citizen Kane)

October 21, 2010

Jonathan Barragan
Medst 144
October 21, 2010

Film Analysis of Citizen Kane

In Citizen Kane (Welles, RKO, 1941) the flash back scene in Mrs. Kane’s boarding house sets the mood and the meaning behind the main plot of the movie.  The composition of the scenes, the lighting and the focus used by the director really uses the environment and space to give the viewer the desired emotion in the scene.  The use of mise-en-scène was not really focused on in films before 1940’s and we really get to see the use of every aspect in the film to express a certain idea.

Citizen Kane shows us the life of a rich mogul whose dying words are a mystery that is being investigated throughout the film.  The scene in Mrs. Kanes’s boarding house is very important to this because it is source of the mysterious dying words and the foundation of the film.  The scene also shows Kane in a different light, the innocence of a child before it is corrupted by money.

The scene starts off with Kane as a child playing in the snow, the entire screen is white with snow the hills are covered in snow and the sky is white, purity of childhood, there is also a very calming music played in the background which reminds me of music played during Christmas and gives me a feeling of happiness.   Then the peaceful scene and music is abruptly stopped by a snowball hitting the sign of the boarding school.  The camera then pans out from inside the cottage slowly showing less and less of young Kane playing outside and focusing on his mother, father and Mr. Thatcher in a very dark and serious room, changing the feel of emotions.  Even though the focus is on the adults inside of the cottage, we can still see young Kane outside of the window playing in the snow also in full focus and we can also clearly hear him playing in the background; the sound is not muffled or drowned out.  I believe this shows importance of what is happening to his life without him even knowing about it.  Also the position of the parents inside the cottage is very powerful; the father is standing up on the left side of the screen, while the mother and Mr. Thatcher are sitting down close to each other on the right side of the screen with the window that shows young Kane in the middle of the screen.  I believe this shows the opposing views that the father and mother had on what to do with the money and with young Kane.  The mother is also shown in profile view which is very powerful and I believe it puts the importance on her.  When Mrs. Kane goes to the window to call young Kane, she becomes the center of the shot.  She is up close and Mr. Kane and Mr. Thatcher are seen smaller in the back ground to the right and left of her.  This is a very powerful scene and very emotional, you can feel the sadness that the mother feels by given up her son.  The music that starts as Mrs. Kane is speaking changes the mood and helps give the feeling of suspense, and uncertainty.  The lighting in this scene also puts the importance on the Mrs. Kane by shining the light on her and slightly dimming out the background.

The camera movement throughout this scene also gives the viewer a smooth transition as it slowly moves from the outside of the house to the inside and then back outside as the camera seems to go through the window, there are no cuts in this scene when the actors move outside which makes this seem very much like a play rather than a movie.  Also the position of the camera at a very low angle showing the ceiling is also something that was never done before because the lights on the ceiling would be exposed.  The clothing of the actors also tells you a lot about them in this scene, Mrs. Kane and Mr. Thatcher are dressed very neatly and they are both wearing black which makes them look very serious, Mr. Kane however is dressed in a light colored shirt and a vest and he looks a little messy.

This attention to details of even the position in which the actors stand is something that was never really thought of with much importance in previous films.  The mise-en-scene or focus to the arrangements of everything that is in front of the camera including lighting, the clothing and the positions of the actors is very important to express the emotions and feelings in a certain scene.

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One Response to “Film Analysis (Citizen Kane)”

  1.   math games for kids Says:

    pass it on

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