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Still shot from the movie: Citizen Kane.

Citizen Kane

It is Kane's death that begins the story, sending a reporter (William Alland) to interview the closest associates of the multimillionaire and media tycoon in order to write a eulogy. Orson Welles stars as Citizen Kane, as well as acting as writer and director. This groundbreaking classic is considered one of the greatest films of all time. Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: A
Violence: B+
Sexual Content: B+
Language: A
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Run Time: 119
Theater Release: 01 May 1941
Video Release: 13 Sep 2011
MPAA Rating: PG
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How We Determine Our Grades

After watching a movie with your children or students, we encourage parents and teachers to look for education opportunities to teach with movies. Here are a few discussion topics that can help with lesson plans or teaching in the home.

The reporter in the film was assigned to discover the meaning of Charles Foster Kane’s last spoken word—Rosebud. What do you think Rosebud represents?

Citizen Kane implies that there are some individuals with so much influence their opinion can become fact, start or stop wars, or get a candidate elected. William Randolph Hearst’s reaction to this movie demonstrated there really are people who can impose their views on the public. Who has that kind of power in our society today? Do we, as average citizens, sometimes facilitate these individuals to exercise control over us when we turn them into icons?

Francois Truffaunt (a critic, who later became a film director) claimed “everything that matters in cinema since 1940 has been influenced by Citizen Kane”. Have you seen any of the techniques introduced in Citizen Kane used in modern movies? (It might be a shorter list if you look for any that don’t!)

This new release of the classic heralded by many as “the greatest film ever made” provides plenty of features certain to increase the viewer’s understanding and appreciation of Orson Welles’ greatest claim to fame. Listening to the commentaries (one by Roger Ebert—Critic, and the other by Peter Bogdanovich—Orson Welles biographer) is akin to attending film school. The documentary on disc 2—The Battle Over Citizen Kane, produced for WGBH’s The American Experience—details the lives of both Welles and Hearst, and explains the disastrous results of this clash of two Titans.

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About the Reviewer: Donna Gustafson

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