Arguably the greatest of American films, Orson Welles' 1941 masterpiece, made when he was only 25, still unfurls like a dream and carries the viewer along the mysterious currents of time and memory to reach a mature (if ambiguous) conclusion: people are the sum of their contradictions and can't be known easily. Welles plays newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, taken from his mother as a boy and made the ward of a rich industrialist. The result is that every well-meaning or tyrannical or self-destructive move he makes for the rest of his life appears in some way to be a reaction to that deeply wounding event. Written by Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz, and photographed by Gregg Toland, the film is the sum of Welles's awesome ambitions as an artist in Hollywood. He pushes the limits of then-available technology to create a true magic show, a visual and aural feast that almost seems to be rising up from a viewer's subconscious. As Kane, Welles even ushers in the influence of Bertolt Brechton film acting. This is truly a one-of-a-kind work, and in many ways is still the most modern of modern films this century. --Tom Keogh
Over 70 years since it was first released, Orson Welle’s Citizen Kane
is a movie with a huge wealth of critical acclaim behind it. Not all of that was apparent when it was first released, but since then it’s been a film that’s regularly appeared in lists of the top ten films of all time. With good reason too: this is masterful filmmaking, all the more impressive given that Welles himself, who also stars in the film as Charles Foster Kane, was only 25 when he made it.
This new Blu-ray release presents the film in crystal-clear 1080p, and the digital restoration is superb. There are far more modern films that haven’t looked this good on Blu-ray. Furthermore, there are supplements that dig into the film itself, and what happened since. So, Barry Norman presents a really interesting feature entitled the Anatomy of a Classic, while Ken Barnes delivers a commentary track that delves just as deep. A particularly welcome inclusion on the disc too is the infamous Orson Welles 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, which caused widespread panic on its original release. You also get a feature looking at the difficulty in restoring the film in the first place.
Citizen Kane remains a genuine masterpiece, and it’s to the credit of the Blu-ray that it respects that, presents the film strongly, and takes the time to properly explore it as well. That’s just what a good Blu-ray should do. --Jon Foster