Citizen Kane, 1941

Citizen Kane is considered to be one of the greatest films in the history of filmmaking. Made in 1941, this film marks the beginning era of cinematography.  Though it is considered one of the greatest films ever made, it did not do well when first released. Interestingly enough, the film was considered to be a financial disappointment during its time. Over time it was appreciated as it should have been. One of the most captivating aspects of this film is its cinematography; the creation of camera angles and lighting decisions when filming photographic pictures for a film.

In the beginning of the film the camera movement and angles are complex, quick, and stylish. There are interesting close-up shots of body features. A steady shot of handwriting or a close-up of a facial expression are some examples of the interesting ways in which the film was shot occur. A complicated shot worth noting that is a shot where the camera shows a shiny object on a table while showing a human action in the reflection of the object. Also interesting are the many quick, rather stunning, scenic shots. Buildings are captured at low angles, city views are show at a birds-eye-view, and objects and people are filmed being zoomed in and out to truly capture an image. The byzantine style, creativity, and variety of shots in this film are simply astonishing.

One of the most attractive scenes in the film appears twice. The camera moves effortlessly in this scene. The camera rises and goes through the smallest gap in between the letters of a sign, and then rises up even higher and is hovering above a glass ceiling. Above the glass ceiling you can see inside a woman sitting at a table. The camera then goes through the glass and takes you right into the scene with Susan Alexander. After this scene, the film is a flashback of Charles Foster Kane’s life and goes all the way back to that scene with the exact camera movements leading back through the glass ceiling. It is complicated and absolutely fantastic at the same time.

Another very entrancing scene in the film occurs in the newspaper printing room.  Thousands of newspapers are being printed, and in the printing station the paper goes through several steps before delivery. At one point the newspaper is sliding up the machine and the camera locks onto one newspaper following it up to the top. This effect gives a really unique shot of the newspaper making you feel as if you were sliding up along with it on the machine.

Overall, the cinematography of Citizen Kane is nothing short of remarkable. Its depth, complexity, and sophistication make it unlike any other movie. This is a film that can be watched over and over again offering new insights and inspirations at every viewing.

 

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