Friday, May 20, 2011

Movie Moments: #36

Citizen Kane (1941)

A few weeks ago I attended a friend’s birthday celebration at the Rosebud Café in Rozelle, named after the use of that word in Citizen Kane. Regarded by critics and movie geeks as one of the best, if not the best, movie ever made, with innovative cinematography, musical score and narrative structure, imho the movie is a bit dated these days and a bit of a chore to sit through. The best movie Oscar for that year went to How Green Was My Valley, both Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon missing out. Nominated in 9 categories, it won only one, for writing. It flopped at the box office, not even recovering its production cost.

The puzzling last utterance of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane is the word “Rosebud”. A newspaper reporter tries to find the meaning behind the word, the life story of Kane being revealed in a series of flashbacks. In the process we see his spiritual decline as he pursues success, fame, wealth, power and immortality.

Female reporter: If you could've found out what Rosebud meant, I bet that would've explained everything.
Thompson: No, I don't think so; no. Mr. Kane was a man who got everything he wanted and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn't get, or something he lost. Anyway, it wouldn't have explained anything... I don't think any word can explain a man's life. No, I guess Rosebud is just a... piece in a jigsaw puzzle... a missing piece.

The film is based on the life of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, including his relationship with his mistress, actress Marion Davies. Although Hearst and Davies lived together for decades, they never married in that Hearst’s wife would not give him a divorce. In real life, “Rosebud” was a pet name by Hearst for an intimate part of Davies’ anatomy.

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