Citizen Kane, the Camera as a Character

4 April 2015
A study on the cinematography in the classic movie “Citizen Kane.”

This paper examines Orson Well’s classical film Citizen Kane. It illustrates how Wells made the camera an active part of the dialogue and plot through photographic and cinematographic methods. The author claims that the integration of sound and camera work make the story first person as seen through the eyes of the viewer. The paper describes how this revolutionary film brought the viewer out of the theater seat and onto the screen.
Citizen Kane represented a breakthrough in cinematography at the time of its release. Filmed in 1941, it launched the career of Orson Wells. It helped to define Orson Well’s unique style, which later became his trademark. Orson Wells collaborated with Herman J. Mankiewicz on the script. However, it was the cinematography of Gregg Toland that made the film a memorable masterpiece. Until this time, the use of shadows, camera angle, depth of shot and focus presented characters in a non-personal way.

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The camera stayed in one place and the actors moved in front of it. In Citizen Kane, Orson Wells made the camera an active part of the dialogue and plot. In this way the photography in Citizen Kane became an integral part of the artistry in the movie. The photography in Citizen Kane could be viewed as stand-alone art. The use of the camera in Citizen Kane makes the audience a participant in the film, not a mere observer. They become a character in the film themselves through the camera.

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