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Film Response #2 "Citizen Kane"

Question: Explain how Welles uses deep focus cinematography and deep space composition to tell Kane's story.

Christina Burke

on 1 October 2012

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Transcript of Film Response #2 "Citizen Kane"

Film Response #3
"Citizen Kane" By: Christina Burke Who is Orson Welles? The movie "Citizen Kane," directed and featuring Orson Welles (1941), revolutionized cinematography thanks to Gregg Toland's introduction to deep focus"...through his experimentation with lenses and lighting."
At the time of the film, 1941, movies generally lacked many elements such as depth appearing to be more 2-dimensional (flat).
According to the textbook "Looking at Movies," Toland had already rejected the soft-focus, one-plane depth of the established Hollywood style by the time "Citizen Kane" and "The Long Voyage Home" were shot.
Furthermore, the lighting in "Citizen Kane" is just as vital to the movie as the depth.
For example, the lighting on the main character, Kane, and Susan Alexander during one scene are strikingly different; her face has a soft light to it revealing a youthful glow, in contrast, Kane's face is "...lit with a hard and crisp light making him appear older."
According to Roger Ebert, "In almost all movies before Citizen Kane, you couldn't see the ceilings in rooms because there weren't any. That's where you'd see the lights and microphones."
This film, in turn, is a prime example of low- angle shots which give the viewer a sense of powerlessness especially during the scene when Kane fires Leland.
Unfortunately the film went through much controversy with William Randolf Hearst, a wealthy newspaper mogul, who vehemently despised how the movie used his life as a reference to the main character, Kane.
RKO Pictures blamed Hearst for the film's lukewarm resonse, making it the 6th top earning movie; they had much higher expectations and lost an initial $160,000.
"Citizen Kane" faded from the spotlight until its revival in 1956 when RKO sold its entire library to television including "Citizen Kane." Question #3 : Notice how Gregg Toland uses the theme of continuity of space and time while the camera zooms out revealing the mother, father, and Mr. Thatcher. The snow scene of the young Charles Foster Kane: Most well-known scene with deep focus cinematography. Born May 6, 1915, George Orson Welles suffered through many hardships during his eventful life as a filmmaker.
His father, an inventor, and mother, a pretty pianist, both died when he was an adolescent.
Orson ..."graduated from the Todd School in Woodstock, Illinois; he turned down college offers for a sketching tour of Ireland."
He had many failed attempts to make it to the Broadway stage until he scored a role in "Tybalt" in 1934.
After directing his first short film and appearing on radio, Orson began working with John Houseman forming the Mercury Theater in 1937.
They produced "War of the Worlds" in 1938 which was intended to be a Hollywood prank
His first film "Citizen Kane" costed RKO Pictures $150,000 in losses, but ironically is considered the greatest film of all time.
Many of his later films were considered "failures" causing him to exile to Europe in 1948.
"In 1975, in spite of all his box-office failures, he received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1984 the Directors Guild of America awarded him its highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award."
He died in October 10, 1985 of a heart attack in Hollywood. Why is this film so important? What is deep focus in cinematography? Deep focus cinematography is the use of the short-focal-length lens to capture deep-space composition and its illusion of depth; keeps all three planes in sharp focus.
The first innovator, Allen Dawn, used this new technique in "The Iron Mask" (1929), a silent film.
Gregg Toland, cinematographer in "Citizen Kane," made deep-focus popular; in one scene the audience can see the foreground, middle ground, and background all at once creating the illusion of depth on a two-dimensional surface.
Andre Bazin, French film critic, stated deep-focus cinematography, " brings the spectator into a relation with the image close to that which he enjoys with reality."
Instead of watching the film from afar, the audience can now actively participate in the action feeling as if they are there; a feeling called verisimilitude. How did Citizen Kane break new ground in film's ability to manipulate space and time? Three fundamentals of film Movies depend on light
Movies provide an illusion of movement
Movies manipulate space and time in unique ways Although light and the illusion of movement are essential to filmmaking, the ability to manipulate space and time in "Citizen Kane" stands out Manipulating time and space Although lighting and the illusion of movement are essential to film making, we will focus on Citizen Kane's ability to manipulate time and space.
Movies seem to effortlessly move from one scene such as a landscape to a house or outer space back to earth.
Space and time juxtapose one another as the film theorist Erwin Panofsky stated, it's the "dynamization of space the spatialization of time."
Movies contrast live productions by being flexible. In other words, stages are fixed. The audience sees the entire stage and the boundaries surround the stage creating this "fixed" space.
On the other hand, since movies are flexible they can move from one place to another and back again in just seconds, manipulating time.
The camera's eye is more selective in its view making the audience see what the camera sees and focus on important gestures or events taking place; this is called Mediation.
Mediation, a key concept in which film theory , literally to mean the process by which an agent, structure, or other formal element, whether human or technological, transfers something from one place to another.
The most famous scene in Citizen Kane is the breakfast scene montage. Breakdown of The Breakfast Scene Montage There are 6 scenes portraying 9 years of Kane's first marriage to Emily which dissolves before our eyes
1) The first scene's atmosphere is romantic and happy with the couple sitting close to one another with stars of love in their eyes. Kane states, "I utterly adore you." They have just come back from six parties still in their fancy evening clothes, and Emily is wondering what the servants will think of them coming back so late. Kane must get going for work when Emily tells him, "I don't know why you have to go straight out to the newspaper. He replies,"You never should have married a newspaperman. They’re worse than sailors. I absolutely adore you." He then decides to put off all appointments until 12.
2) In scene 2 Emily is dressed in a dressing gown separated from Kane by a large bouquet of flowers. This symbolizes the beginning of their dissolving marriage.
3) In scene 3 Emily is bothered by Kane’s criticism of the Presidential office in public. She says, "Sometimes, I think I’d prefer a rival of flesh-and-blood." Kane replies with, " Oh Emily, I don’t spend that much time on the newspaper." Their tone of voice with each other becomes increasingly tense with each scene. Breakdown of the Breakfast Scene Montage (continued) In scene 4, the sixth year of their marriage, the scene opens up with Emily openly disagreeing with the gift from Mr. Bernstein stating, "I simply can’t have it in the nursery." Her style of dress becomes increasingly more conservative and demur while Charles's age begins to show with a mustache. Her tone is almost sarcastic when she states, "Really Charles?"
These scenes are prime examples of patterns in movies. Once broken the emotional state of the audience shifts as well as the audience's expectations as we see with each scene.
In scene 5 both characters are stiff and cold towards each other while seating at what appears to be a formal dining room. All of these symbols parallels the gradual shift from happy mood to a tense arguing atmosphere.
The last scene, scene 6, shows the last year of their marriage with no dialoge between the couple, only suspenseful music. Charles is reading the Inquirer, his own paper, but Emily, out of rebellion, is reading his competitor, The Chronicle. The scenes dissolves back to the interview with Thompson. Another famous example of manipulating space and time: "The Matrix" The movie, "The Matrix," used a "bullet time" effect, that is "...dazzling because we have not yet grown accustomed to seeing two time references share the the same screen simultaneously.
Slow motion is used throughout this seen which makes the audience pause and give all their attention to this one scene, making time seem to slow down; in reality time doesn't slow down at all. This is an example of a manipulation of time like in the movie "The Killer."
Furthermore, "Movies frequently rearrange time by organizing story events in nonchronological order."
For example, "Citizen Kane" begins with Kane's death instead of his childhood. The movie then leads up to the ending conclusion that began the movie. Works Cited Barsam, Richard Meran., Dave Monahan, and Karen M. Gocsik. Looking at Movies: An Introduction to Film. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
"A Viewer's Companion to 'Citizen Kane' :: Rogerebert.com :: News & Comment. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040101/COMMENTARY/401010335>.
"Citizen Kane." Citizen Kane. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://movieimages.tripod.com/citizenkane/>.
"CINEMATOGRAPHY: âCitizen Kane: An Analysis of Cinematography of a Sceneâ." CINEMATOGRAPHY: âCitizen Kane: An Analysis of Cinematography of a Sceneâ. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://samhillmedia.com/?p=844>.
"Citizen Kane." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 May 2012. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_Kane>.
Claudegg. "Citizen Kane." YouTube. YouTube, 03 Feb. 2007. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg7VUk4DjIk>.
Cinematicalart. "Deep Focus." YouTube. YouTube, 03 Oct. 2008. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tt840nlog0>.
"Matt." Artistic Photography in Cinema: Citizen Kane. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. <http://www.takegreatpictures.com/photo-tips/tgp-choice/artistic-photography-in-cinema-citizen-kane>.
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