Regularly cited as the greatest American film ever made, Orson Welles’ story of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane’s meteoric rise and fall is a fascinating portrait of America's love of power, materialism and the corruption it fosters.
When ageing newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane (Welles) dies in his sprawling Florida estate after uttering a single, enigmatic final word - Rosebud - a newsreel producer sends a reporter out on assignment to uncover the meaning behind the great man's dying thought, uncovering the facts of Kane's eventful and ultimately tragic life along the way. Through his abandonment by his parents after becoming the heir to a silver mine; to his rise from scandal sheet publisher to the owner of America's largest and most influential newspaper chain. All this set alongside his marriage to the socially prominent Emily Norton and his ambitious (and ultimately ruinous) bid for public office that leads to a self-imposed exile in the massive and never-completed pleasure palace called Xanadu.
The fabulous screenplay, pioneering formal innovations and outstanding performances apart, Citizen Kane is Welles’ biting depiction of the way we are increasingly affected by the mass media. Painting a stingingly clear picture of the irresistible rise to power of an egotistical corporate capitalist and the malleability of public opinion, it serves up a disturbing view of a world that has stopped thinking for itself and that is willing to believe anything it is told.
Presented in a 35mm print with thanks to the British Film Institute.