Citizen Kane
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Citizen Kane 60th Anniversary Edition

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When people that enjoy the technical aspects of films gather one film stands out as one of the most ground breaking and innovative films of all time, Citizen Kane. This film scored number one on the coveted AFI top 100 film list. Made by Orson Wells for the RKO studio ad released in 1941 this film brought movies to maturity never before seen. The story is well known now. One of the riches men in the world, Charles Foster Kane (Orson Wells) dies his last word a cryptic ‘Rosebud’. Seeking an answer, reporter (Joseph Cotton) interviews the people whose lives crossed Kane’s in a futile effort to understand what was on Kane’s mind at the moment of his death. We view a retrospective of a powerful man’s life from a humble childhood to a rebellious youth and finally a man that others feared and respected. Even more interesting is the back-story behind this film. The biography of Kane too closely resembled that of media mogul William Randolph Hearst.. Hearst vowed to bury the film and a fight broke out in Hollywood where young filmmaker Wells took on the industry he needed to further his craft and career as well as one of the powerful men on the planet. Wells knew he had created something special with Kane was was not about to let go. Hailed as a genius for his film but a fool for his fight Wells risked everything on pushing this film to the screens of movie theaters in America.

Although almost every performance in this film is a gem it is basically a one-man show. Wells showed what a man born to act could do with a well-crafted script. He owned this role like few actors have ever done before or since. What made the fight between Wells and Hearst so ironic and what also contributed to the excellence of his performance is he held so many traits in common with the newspaper king. Both men were driven to succeed. Their drive reduced any obstacle to so much rubble. Both were extremely gifted in their respective fields. While Hearst had a knack for imposing his will on others to his financial gain, Wells was a gifted filmmaker and actor.

Not only is Orson Wells the star of this film he was its director. He took a lot of risks in the techniques that he used. Camera angles that required digging a ditch in a concrete floor, a seamless pseudo mise-en-scene combining real sets and matte photography and extremes in close ups and far shots. Wells could combine these vastly different methods to create something that flows in an organic manner. There is no doubt that Wells was one of the great geniuses of film and his influence echoes to films today. Wells was not to be deterred by the physical constraints of his locations. In order to get one key shot he actually brought in a jack hammer to dig a hole in the concrete floor of the studio. This permitted Wells to position the camera below the standard 180 line and give his masterpiece an altogether new view for the audience. The techniques pioneered by Wells are still in use today, much of the cinema we enjoy in modern films owe everything to this ground breaking film.

For the greatest film ever made the DVD had to be something special, very special. Now, 60 years after its release the DVD release will bring a whole new generation of film lovers to this classic. Those that collect DVDs for six channel sound and anamorphic video will be given a chance to broaden their viewpoint. The film is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio with a revitalized mono soundtrack. The quality of the transfer is spectacular. If you want to recreate the original theater experience by pass the bit stream audio and run the soundtrack through you Prologic Theater mode. It will bring you back 60 years to the old RKO feature movie houses. The extras take spill over from the first disc to a second. The first disc has two feature length commentaries, Roger Ebert and Peter Bogdanovich. There is a 1941 newsreel featuring the debut of the film, studio memos and letters and many documents that pertain to the controversy surrounding the film. The second disc is a special feature about the problems in getting the film made. If you collect films at all this is needed in your collection.

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