Do you really want to watch 'Citizen Kane' more than twice? Do you really care about Kane or anyone else in the film? No of course not. And there is no one else, and no thing else in the film apart from the visual style: it's a heartless empty shell of a film. And 'Touch Of Evil' which now seems to be making ground over Kane is also all a matter of style with unimportant genre content. It's only an excercise in film-noir. In my view the only reason for watching it more than twice would be as part of a Film Studies course. But this one on the other hand you can watch again and again despite the detached or distanced Welles style. It's the material of course, the text - as well as the visual style. Isn't that a good idea?.....to have some really universal and involving subject matter made of dense material that offers some resistance, which in this case is largely the fact that it's in verse. Think about it. Apart from anything else the verse guarantees that it'll be worthwhile returning to it from time to time. People have been doing that for more than 400 years. How many films are worth watching more than a couple of times? If you agree with me about this one (and Kane) you might like to take a look at my other film reviews, where I've tried to suggest a few. On the slim chance that you agree with my views you might in return like to suggest some to me.
Why don't we have some more films in verse apart from Shakespeare? Why don't we even write some new ones, in free-verse at least? Granada TV once managed to put one on as a popular drama serial or soap-opera mini-series without telling anyone. Set in the garment trade of the North of England in the 70's it was called 'Connie' and was Stephanie Beacham's finest hour. There was also the American film-noire 'Force Of Evil'(1948) with John Garfield, and directed by Abraham Polonski, a victim of the McCarthy era. They didn't tell anyone about that one either, and nobody noticed even though it's more like blank verse than free verse.
But the visual style itself is extraordinary and even manages to focus attention better, and in an unusual way, on the verse. It all comes across a bit like a view of another planet, a new kind of science fiction. It prepares you for the heightened reality of the 'dialogue'. At the same time if the brain is getting a bit tired there are always the amazing visuals to fall back on. They are quite enough in themselves to keep anyone hooked. Welles makes amazingly inventive use of his low budget location in a Morrocan castle, as you might expect from the director of 'Citizen Kane' where the sets were the real substance of the film. But here of course the sets, and the uses that Welles puts them to, have some competition from Shakespeare. That is why this and 'Chimes At Midnght' are Welles' best films': in these films his stylistic and visual genius are not allowed to take over entirely.
Even if you are not normally impressed by Shakespeare you will probably find this interesting. Which is more than you can say for his 'Macbeth'.
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