Professor Ken White
Film Studies 140
11 October 2014
Casablanca versus Citizen Kane
The history of film is a relatively new subject area, approximately two centuries old. Therefore, trying to determine a film to take the title "greatest movie ever made" proves to be a difficult task. After all, innovations in films are still being made today. However, we can find the greatest innovations in film's early years, like in the movies Casablanca and Citizen Kane. These two films are often thought to be the best ever, and for solid reasons. I feel the first thing we should address is: what makes a film the best ever? It takes more than just public opinion to answer this question. First, there is innovational excellence. We must identify what new techniques and technologies the movie in question introduces. Next, I think it is highly important to note the influences a movie has had on the film industry, more specifically, to acknowledge the influences made on following films created. Lastly, we should take into account public opinion, when the movie was released and in current time.
In 1941, Citizen Kane, an American made film was introduced to the public. The movie revolves around Charles Foster Kane, and the pursuit of uncovering his life story after Kane passed away. This was accomplished for the most part through the use of flashbacks from the memories of those who knew Charles Foster Kane. This film was nominated for an Academy Award in nine separate categories yet surprisingly tanked at the box office.
So how does, Citizen Kane, possibly find itself in the running for the greatest movie ever made? When we look at the innovation in narration, music, and cinematography we are given a better idea as to why. Director Orson Wells and cinematographer Gregg Toland made use of the technique of deep focus. That is the use of a larger depth of field, which creates very sharp images in both the foreground and background. This technique became popular in the 1940’s and is no longer popular today. The narrative style is prevalent throughout the film. As stated before, Citizen Kane has a story line that is conducted through narration using flashbacks. The Narrative Style is what made this movie.
This brings us to the matter of public opinion; in theaters where the film was released, Citizen Kane did very well and received positive reviews. The problem was trying to get theaters to show the film, and I believe the debate created by Orson wells over authorship of screenplay to be the cause. In today’s film industry this movie has influenced the likes of Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and the Coen