ByBen Sibley, writer at
Avid film fan and film-maker. Love cinematography and great storytelling.
Ben Sibley

To this day, Citizen Kane remains a hallmark piece in cinema history. It is revered as one of the greatest movies of all time, forever holding a place in the pantheon of films. In layman’s term, the story of Charles Kane (Orson Welles) is one of decline.

In his youth, Kane was respected and powerful. Using conscious cinematic decisions, Welles masterfully portrays Kane’s peak. When Kane first takes over the inquirer he speaks with a fumbling old man whom he thwarts. The camera is placed below Kane and he himself stands in the left third of the frame. Kane holds the most powerful position in the frame and the dialogue reflects this dominance.

In addition, when the entertainment arrives at The Inquirer the vocalist sings, “What is his name, MR.KANE!” During this scene, Welles shows Kane centered in the frame representing how, much like in the song, Kane is the center of attention.

However, Kane’s prominence decreases with age. Welles uses very different cinematic techniques to exude a sense of decline. When Susan is completing her puzzle, Kane enters the frame and is shown from a bird’s eye view. This depicts Kane as insignificant and small. When Susan leaves Kane he begs, “Please don’t go.” At this point in the film, she is all he has and pride is no longer of consequence. The penultimate scene is a slow pan out showing everything Kane owns. Through this pan out, it is expressed that, even with all his possessions, in the end Kane is left alone.


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