Orson Wellesâ€™s 1941 film Citizen Kane is known for its deep focus photography, its multiple narrators, and its defiance of the strictures of classical Hollywood. In the feature image focused at the close of the textbook chapter you see a turning point in the story, Kane is addressing a crowd at a political rally in his bid for governor. His political opponent and personal enemy, Jim Gettys, looks on. Gettysâ€™s presence at the rally likely means heâ€™s sizing up the opposition, or heâ€™s got something up his sleeve. Both, it turns out, fit the bill here. As we will discover in a subsequent scene, Gettys has proof of Kaneâ€™s infidelity that will effectively kill Kaneâ€™s chances at the polls. The formal elements of the image hint at a change in the power relations between the two men.
Now choose a different still from the film, Citizen Kane.
- What is your initial, subjective reaction to this still/scene and why?
- See if you can isolate the various aspects of form in the still or scene. What can you identify in the narrative, mise-en-scÃ¨ne, camerawork, sound, and editing?
- Do some research into the biography and filmography of the filmâ€™s director. How might his or her biography and filmography inform your reading of the film?