Sunday, December 18, 2005

Citizen Kane: Sixty Four Years Later

Recently I watched Citizen Kane, the 1941 landmark movie that was written and directed by the late Orson Welles. He also brilliantly plays the leading role in this timeless classic.

This is not the first time I watched this picture, but its the first time I was able to watch it by choice. Huh? Let me explain. I was forced twice to watch this movie over the years. The first was back in high school, and the second as part of a college class. Let me tell you something straight away. Setting aside the fact that as a teenager and young adult I had an attention span that lasted as long as it took to type this sentence, being forced to watch anything gives you a different perspective then if you choose to watch.

Watching it now by choice and without the shortcomings of youth it was a whole different experience. When I think of the word "Rosebud", it suggests many things to me on an emotional and intellectual level. The search one goes through in life for meaning, the longing for simpler times, the dwelling on an event or events that were forever life altering. This man of power and wealth and influence was thinking of something so simple on his deathbed, that it staggers the mind. That sled represented the cross-roads of his life, and when you finally know what "Rosebud" means, it brings the whole first scene into sharp focus.

What would have happened to his life had he come back from playing with his sled and there was nobody to take him away? What would have become of him? I think we all face these events in life where things come into sharp focus. What would have happened if I had called her? Or if I had not fallen? Questions such as these we all face, and that's why this movie is brilliant.

It makes the timeless point about money not buying happiness. About the longing for simpler times in our lives, and about the choices me make for good or ill. Certain movies have that timeless quality about them because they don't speak only to the era they were made in, but speak more about us as human beings. Era's change, decades go by, technology changes the lives of society but humans will always be humans.

We live in an era where filmmakers believe in the theory of the lowest common denominator. Lets take generic people in to see generic films that concentrate on the eyes more than the mind. If they would only realize that the "eyecandy" is secondary to story then we would have more wonderful films. Citizen Kane succeeds and is timeless because it stimulates the brain, and makes you ask questions about your own life.

Shame we hardly ever get that from the films of today.

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