Citizen Kane has been called the greatest film ever made by many different people. It has been said that it should be required viewing by anyone who claims to love movies. I have to agree, although I did not enjoy it quite as much as Casablanca. I think I was hoping for the same emotional experience, but this film was much darker and more complex. I had different expectations for this film and had to work harder to put them aside in order to really enjoy the experience.
Part of the reason why Citizen Kane is so complex is the many different themes that are present in the movie. On prevalent theme is one of loss, particularly loss of innocence and childhood. Throughout the movie, we are left wondering what “Rosebud” is and why it was Kane’s final word. In the very last scene, we see that his childhood sled was called Rosebud. It was the sled he was playing with the day that Mr. Thatcher took him away. It represents the childhood that he never got to finish. His youth was altered when he was forced to leave his family and inherited a bunch of money at such a young age. The fact that Kane never had a complete childhood drive the whole movie and really shapes the person that Kane is. He was forced to grow up too soon, and it seems to make it difficult for him to love others because he never received unconditional love. Throughout the rest of his life, he feels that he has to earn love and people must earn his love in return. I think it all stems from his mother giving him up at such a young age.
Another important theme is loneliness. Despite the fact that Kane gets married twice and surrounds himself with many important people, he admits to feeling alone. He tells Susan Alexander that it is what they have in common; they are both lonely. His marriages start off with affection, but both turn sour, and Kane is left alone again. Susan leaves him after telling him countless times that she is lonely in the big house without any love from him. In the end, he dies alone with no one to inherit his extravagant house or his money.
The other theme that really stuck out to me was power. Charles Foster Kane is very concerned with power and wealth and extravagance. He amasses a gigantic newspaper empire and builds a huge house, but in the end it does not fulfill him the way he thought. Kane is also concerned with a political career and is close to becoming governor at one point. However, his affair with Susan is exposed by his opponent, Jim Gettys, and his wife, Emily. An interesting scene happens when Gettys and Emily are discussing Kane’s future as if Kane is not there. His face is framed between the two as he watches his power slip away. It is reminiscent of the time he is taken away from his family and looses his power then. Kane learns throughout the film that power is no substitute for love.
Citizen Kane, although a dark movie, is still one that many people can connect to. The themes are as important today as there were in 1941 when the film was released. I guess that is what makes for a classic film