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Citizen Kane by Orson Welles

Updated on January 4, 2010

Citizen Kane was the first motion picture directed by Orson Welles. The film, released in 1941, tells the life story of a newspaper tycoon. (It has been suggested that William Randolph Hearst served as the inspiration.) Welles, who was then 25, cast himself as the tycoon, Charles Foster Kane. Citizen Kane explores its protagonist's motivation as a psychological mystery, with a clue buried deep in his early childhood and uncovered to the audience only after his death. The film's reputation rests primarily upon its brilliant technique, the use of a highly mobile camera, deep-focus photography, and exceptionally fluid montage. A commercial failure at its first release, Citizen Kane has become a virtual textbook in method for later directors.


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