Cinematic Techniques used in Citizen Kane
In film class this past week, we learned that there are many cinematic techniques used in films that contribute to the way a film is portrayed by an audience. We had the pleasure of watching a film directed by Orson Wells In 1941 called “Citizen Kane”. I am glad that this particular film was the film of choice to demonstrate some of these techniques. The movie “Citizen Kane” uses each cinematic technique in a way that is obvious to the viewer. I have chosen five of the sixteen techniques that I learned this week, which made an impact on the way that I personally viewed this film.
As an armature film observer, “Citizen Kane” is the perfect film of choice to begin analyzing some of these techniques. The first technique that I noticed was a technique called dissolving. Dissolve is a gradual transition from one image to another. A dissolve overlaps two shots for the duration of the effect, usually at the end of once scene and the beginning of the next.
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The dissolving technique was used at the opening of the scene. When the movie comes on there is an image of a sign hanging on a fence. The sign says “No Trespassing.
” The camera then gradually pans up and gradually dissolves into another larger bulkier fence that displays a huge letter “K” for Kane. The scene dissolves for a second time to show a large dark castle in the background. At this point we can quickly assume that the castle is the home of whoever the story is about (Kane). Using this technique combined with weary music, draws your attention in and sets the tone for a mystery. Later on in the film there is another very noticeable dissolve from one set to another. The first set is outside in the rain as we hear thunder and lightning.
The shot moves up into the skyline and into the second set which is then moves through the window and into El Ranchero nightclub where we find Susan Alexander Kane sitting alone. Newspaper headlines appear throughout the movie, telling stories that move the viewers along. Some of the headlines are meant for humor. Other headlines create a certain negative mood for the storyline. For example, one of the headlines read “Candidate Kane caught in love nest with singer. ” After this article the story moves right along. Kane basically leaves his wife and marries Susan Alexander.
The most intense newspaper montage was when Susan Alexander is singer opera and we hear a scary thump noise as newspaper articles flash across the screen. It reads “New York in Furor for Susan Alexander. ” The stadium is packed out we see the audience clapping and then we dissolve into the suicide scene. Another example would be the article that read “Charles Foster Kane dies after life time of service. ” On the same page right next to the article it says “Entire nation mourns. ” I think this ironic because how could the entire nation morn if even those closest to Kane had inaccurate ideas of who he was.
Flashbacks are very relevant in this film. All of the characters have different viewpoints of Kane. When flashbacks are used we get the perspectives of those who knew Kane. The Butler Raymond was asked for information about Kane. At this point we realize that all he wants is money in exchange for information. He really does not care about Kane whatsoever Susan Alexander his ex-wife was on drugs or drunk, is the only character in the film who cries on Kane’s behalf. Bernstein was the general manager he explains that he respects Kane and loves him.
Leland was Kane’s friend, but he was not a good friend because he wanted to leave him and go to Chicago as soon as things went wrong. Every person’s point of view was told in a flashback style. At the end of the story flashbacks make us feel sorry for Kane because we realize that some of the things that were said come from unreliable sources. The deep focus technique was very important in this type of movie. Using this technique we were able to get a feeling for the environment around the actors. The environment seemed more critical to the storyline because overlapping actions were able to be seen.
Orson Wells combined the lighting with the camera lens to produce a specific effect. Deep focus shows loss of control when Kane is in his home. As I watched the movie I started to have a feeling of loneliness and isolation when Mrs. Alexander sat on the floor alone with the gig-saw puzzle next to their humongous fire place. With Deep focus everything is in frame, even the background impacts the way that we view the characters in the film. Montage was the next technique that I would like to mention. Montage shows passage of time with just a few scenes. When Mr.
Kane and Susan met, he sat in her living room and listened to her play her piano and sing. In the background it looked messy and low class. The scene changes and now the background looks expensive and high class. This was a great example of a montage. Later, Mr. Kane and Susan were sitting together very close showing skin as if they had just finished having sex and where in love. The next few scenes you see them as if they are tired of one another as if time has passed. This is a great example of montage. The most significant scene to me was when Susan Alexander tries to commit suicide.
She looks at Kane and says “I don’t want to sing anymore. ” He then says, “Alright you don’t have to. ” Kane does not want to lose the only person in his life that he has kept safe in his possession. At the same time he has controlled her the entire time. She has been like a puppet parading around town singing when she really did not want to. She knows that no one in town enjoys her singing. At this point she has been bored and lonely. Susan is sad and tired of her life even though she appears to have everything. She is ready to give up.
This is foreshadowing for events to come. Later in the film she leaves Kane. She tells him that she is leaving and he asks her to stay then tells her that he will give her anything that she wants. Susan firmly says no, basically tells Kane that their relationship is over. I noticed that her room was made up like a child’s room. This seems to me that maybe Kane keeps her away safe and sheltered like a child. This is the same room that Kane’s old child hood sled is in and the globe that he drops at the end of the movie. “ROSEBUD! ”