Directed by: Orson Welles
Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Ruth Warkwick, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane
It may come as something of a surprise to find World Cinema—generally associated with foreign films—showing Citizen Kane (1941), but as I said to Carlos Steward when he first told me, “Why not? Last time I checked the U.S. was part of the world.” Actually, I think it’s a splendid idea in general. I wouldn’t at all mind seeing some lesser known and neglected American titles get some local screen time. Of course, Citizen Kane is neither lesser known, nor neglected, which leads to the question of whether or not I have anything fresh to say about it. The truth is that I probably don’t, but I would like to suggest that people approach it as “just another movie” and not as some kind of cinematic holy writ. Keep in mind while watching Kane that Orson Welles himself referred to movies as “the best set of electric trains any kid ever had,” and maybe you’ll get my point.
Yes, Kane is a remarkable film. It may not actually do anything new—nearly every one of its technical achievements can be found in earlier movies. But no film had so packed those things into the confines of one single picture. And it tells a particularly trenchant and very American story. But forget all that for a moment and just look at it from an entertainment standpoint. What you’ll find is that it’s a very entertaining, sometimes very funny and always extremely playful film. Welles is having the time of his life simply wallowing in the sheer possibility of the medium for its own sake. Join him on that level and realize that maybe his greatest trick of all lay in getting away with making an “art film” fun.
Citizen Kane, part of a series of Classic Cinema From Around the World, will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday, March 20, at Courtyard Gallery, 9 Walnut St. in downtown Asheville. Info: 273-3332.