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“Citizen Kane” – Hollywood Cinema

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?Discuss the ways in which Citizen Kane challenged the traditional narrative and technical elements of classic Hollywood cinema. Give specific examples using appropriate cinematic terminology. Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film directed, co-written, produced by, and starring Orson Welles. This was Welles’s first feature film. With this film, Welles introduced many new filmmaking innovations. Some of the innovations were in cinematography, storytelling techniques, and special effects, lighting and framing of a scene.

One of the greatest movies of all time was Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane.

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Almost all of the movies of the time were told chronologically and had a beginning, middle, and an end. Citizen Kane was the first movie to tell the audience the end of the movie in the beginning. The movie was mostly told in flashbacks. Unlike traditional Hollywood, Citizen Kane combines non-linear and composite storytelling from multiple points of view, including the famous opening newsreels, interviews, and flashbacks, to present the main character (Kstrykers Blog).

Traditional Hollywood has very static mise-en-scene with actors and objects mostly in the center of the frame and never out of focus. Objects, characters and props were usually evenly distributed throughout the scene. The lighting was usually three point and split the scene into foreground and background. An innovative technical aspect of Citizen Kane is the unprecedented use of deep focus (Ogle, P. 1985). In nearly every scene in the film, the foreground, background and everything in between are all in sharp focus.

Another unorthodox method used in the film was the way low-angle cameras were used to display a point of view facing upwards, showing the ceilings in the background (Toland, G. ). Since movies were primarily filmed on sound stages with the Hollywood studio system, it was impossible to film at an angle that showed ceilings because they shot on stages (Kstryker). Mise-en-scene is used to “signify the director’s control over what appears in the film frame” doing this by using elements as settings, lighting, costume, and the movement and actions of figures appearing within the film (Bordwell & Thompson, 2004).

One example of this is the scene where he finds out that he lost the race for governor. He is supposed to be a powerful individual and with the camera angle being so low, it made him looked huge on screen. Because of the angle of the camera, the shot has a lot of depth. In my opinion, the most significant and powerful mise-en-scene within Citizen Kane is when the parents are in the house having a conversation with Thatcher, the banker. As the conversation is happening, we see a young boy playing in the snow, through a window.

I feel this scene symbolizes the innocence that is being taken from him. He is never depicted this way again in the film. This is when a change begins to take place without his knowledge. The boy is in the middle of the frame for the remainder of the movie, making this part the most dramatic of the movie. A decision is being made on the boy’s life unknowing to him of it and he is carefree as he plays in the snow (Boghani and McKeever, 2013). Welles’ Citizen Kane feels modern in a way that virtually no other film from the 1940’s does.

It separated itself from the rest of the Hollywood pack by attempting to create a new style of filmmaking with its creative use of narration and style. Ironically, Citizen Kane may have broken the Hollywood mold, but it created a new one in its place. While breaking Hollywood conventions, it eventually became the standard, used by many a director, such as Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrik, and Christopher Nolan. However, since the film takes such cinematic leaps, Citizen Kane is will be considered one of the most innovative and advance movies for a long time.

Cite this “Citizen Kane” – Hollywood Cinema

“Citizen Kane” – Hollywood Cinema. (2016, Jul 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/citizen-kane-hollywood-cinema/

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