When William Randolph Hearst (multimillionaire and media tycoon) got wind of what 25-year-old Orson Welles was creating at RKO's film studio, he feared his life was the inspiration for the main character. In response Hearst and his newspapers employed all their influence to try and stop Citizen Kane's 1941 release.
With RKO brow-beaten by Heart's response, Orson Welles had to threaten to sue the studio before his movie appeared on the silver screen. As writer, producer, director and lead actor, it could be argued that Welles also shared traits with the main character, Charles Foster 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.
From their perspective we discover that after Kane's mother inherited a gold mine, she placed her money and young son in the care of a banker until his twenty-fifth birthday. Kane was cocky and aloof when he took control of the world's sixth largest personal fortune. Perhaps because he didn't work to earn it (or maybe out of spite for his guardian) the only asset in his portfolio of interest to him was a newspaper acquired in a foreclosure.
With money to burn, Kane builds his paper into a media empire, marries well, and runs for governor. As his self-importance grows (and he becomes entangled in an affair), he discovers pride is so expensive; he can't afford to have ethics. Yet no matter what price he is willing to pay, love still eludes him.
Although Citizen Kane has a lot to say, it is how it is said that makes it a masterpiece. Unfolding like a jigsaw puzzle--here a piece and there a piece, until a picture emerges--it introduced an out-of-sequence storyline to Hollywood movies. Exalting the camera from a recording device to an integral part of the storytelling, it pioneered such devices as shadow (to obscure or emphasize character's expressions), camera angles (to infer dominance), and montage sequences (to compress time). Considered revolutionary in cinema history, Citizen Kane helped define the art form of film.