Sunday, May 5, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: Kane Kong

In this day and age every site does a list. However since the second places started doing lists of Greatest movies, greatest songs, greatest albums, greatest bands, etc it almost always ends up with the same number 1.

Songs - Stairway to Heaven, Satisfaction (I can't get no), I wanna hold your hand or Smells like Teen Spirit
Albums - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Nevermind, 
Bands - The Beatles or Rolling Stones
Movies - Casablanca and Citizen Kane

There's always a great debate between music and film geeks over which thing deserves to be number 1.  For years and years I've been of the mind that Casablanca was leaps and bounds over Citizen Kane. However I finally realized why these films are of equal importance.

Casablanca is an excellent script (I believe in Adaptation it's referred to as the greatest script ever written), it's only made more impressive by the fact that the script was being written as the filmed. It's a bittersweet love story with likable characters.

Citizen Kane however is more of an technical achievement. It has a good story but based on the fact that your main character is an unlikable prick it's quite difficult to care about him the same way you do towards Rick.

Now this isn't anything knew. I've always understood the importance of Citizen Kane's technical advances for film and Casablanca's incredible story. What recently changed my mind on Citizen Kane and made it more than just 'a classic movie I respect' into a 'classic movie I enjoy' can be found in minor elements of camera movement/special effects (for lack of better term) and the overlying theme provided by Rosebud (which is mostly a Red Herring).

When watching Citizen Kane for a second and third time you catch things in the camera work that was easily missed before. The way a camera tracks through signs and tables, the extreme angles, the symbolic location of items. While it's certainly not a film for everyone (the word Overrated gets used a lot towards it), I think that if you're a fan of camerawork in film you have to appreciate how groundbreaking Welles techniques were.

As for the story it all revolves around the greatest gimmick in cinema. In case you haven't seen the movie I'm about to sort of spoil it (although you probably already know) Rosebud was Charles Fraser Kane's sled. This is not a spoiler however. The movie has little to do with Rosebud. It's the plot device to moves the film from interview to interview (the search for a famous man's bizarre final word) but the movie is simply about a small country boy who after being sold by his family to a rich mogul eventually turns into an miserable and at times evil egotistical tyrant.

The symbolism of Rosebud isn't simply that it's a sled. It's the longing for the childhood he was denied. It's such a wonderfully sad statement that even the most awful human being is still a child deep down.

I realize I'm not breaking new ground in this whatsoever but I figured fuck it. Nothing exciting happened in my life this week so let's not talk about a classic movie. This will probably become more and more frequent on Self Observational Sundays.

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