Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane is widely regarded as the greatest movie ever made. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but whoever put this movie on any kind of top 10 or even top 100 list obviously knows nothing about REAL filmmaking.
So, let me break it down for you and share the top 5 reasons Citizen Kane is a crappy movie (and I use the term “movie” loosely.)
[Note: for the record, there are no spoilers, but even if I did spoil it, trust me, you’re not missing anything. The ending is by far one of the most woefully unsatisfying and ungratifying endings in the history of moving images. If you thought the “Game of Thrones” series ending sucked, it ain’t got nothing on the ending of this so-called “movie,” quote-unquote.]
Ahem. So, here you go.
#5. Deep depth of Field. You could sink the Titanic in how deep Welles’ Depth of Field (DoF) is. You would think an auteur like Welles, who’s supposed to know about filmmaking, would know about the importance of a really shallow DoF. Did the word “bokeh” not exist in 1941? Everyone knows that to be really cinematic, you need a nice creamy, buttery bokeh. The blurrier the better! THAT IS TRUE CINEMA! Did DSLRs not exist back then? What’s the deal?
#4. Static shots. OMG. There are so many boring static shots in this movie. I know they didn’t have Cinesliders, pocket dollies, or DP Sliders back in the day, but I’m sure they had SOMETHING. So many times he just lets the camera sit there as people move through the shot, as opposed to cool dolly shots. BORING! LAME. It’s too bad MTV didn’t exist back then, Orson could have picked up on a few tips.
#3. Clichéd opening. He starts the movie with the end. How many times has THAT been done! UNORIGINAL!
#2. It’s in black & white. This movie would be so much better in vibrant, dark, rich colors. Welles was supposed to have been a genius, figuring out how to do all these cool things on set that had never been done before. Yet, he couldn’t figure out how to shoot in color? Really? Come on. Think about how much more exciting “The Wizard of Oz” gets once Dorothy lands in Oz. What happens when she does? It switches to color. Coincidence? I think not. And have you seen how cool the colorized version of “Casablanca” is?
#1. Terrible ending. Last, and certainly not least, is that horrible ending. They don’t explain ANYTHING. I won’t spoil it, but you basically have to figure it out. A voice-over connecting the beginning of the movie to the end was badly needed. Think about how much better voice-overs are. They completely alleviate the need to use your brain, which is WHY we go to the movies in the first place. The first thing you learn in film school is that exposition is awesome. The second thing you learn is that voice-overs are the best forms of it. Don’t believe me? I have one word for you. “Blade Runner.” (Okay. That’s two words, but you get my point).
Filmmaking has come such a long way since the days of RKO Pictures. Filmmakers today have sliders, steadicams, C-Log, S-Log, 10-bit, SxS, dual link HD-SDI, HDR, 3D, 4D, 6D, special effects, film grain filters, plugins, YouTube vlog jump cuts, and a whole bunch of other tools and tricks to make movies really cinematic with the least amount of brainpower to make or watch them. It really is a shame this movie is held in such high regard.
Now excuse me while I get back to my “Transformers” marathon! (Now THESE are real movies!)