Film Language in Classical Hollywood Cinema - Caroline JS _Kay

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					Current Forum: Session 2: Film Language in Classical Hollywood Cinema                                Read 7 times

Date: 22-Jan-2001 22:35:37
Author: DAVIS, SHERYL Y. <>
Subject: Class and Gender in Citizen Kane

    John Belton discusses the camera's ability to empower a character based on the angle of the shot.

In Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, the scene in which Kane initially takes over the newspaper and appears

in the doorway of his "new" office, demonstrates the camera's ability to highlight the importance and

power behind Kane's new venture. The close-up shot of Kane in his new position and the "hype" in

Kane's voice as he rattles off the amendments and goals that he has for the newspaper demonstrates

supremacy and authority. In this particular instance, gender and class are definitely portrayed as we see

the congregation of all white males on the scene. The narrative aspect of the filmis fulfilled as Kane's

success is displayed through an extremelyfast motion of headlines accompanied by music, which

enhances the "visual on the screen." This technique and use of sound effects align perfectly with

documentary conventions used in modern day cinema. Also, the beginning of the film in its efforts to

portray a dismal, deserted, as well as mystical, place leading up to the "No Trespassing" sign could

definitely be associated with old horror films that are centered around an enormous mansion covered

with spider webs and dust sitting on a steep hill. The fade-in leading to the "No Trespassing" sign, low-

key lighting, and veiled setting is what keeps the spectator literally"in the dark" until the plot unfolds. This

is most significant theme, in terms of the manner in which the film is arranged, occurs as a search

centered around Kane's last word, "Rosebud." The notion of power, success, and authority of the white

male is also exhibited in the scene where Mrs. Kane signs her son over to Thatcher. This deep-focus

shot results in the implication that the mother is powerless, left with no alternative but to give her son up

for a "better life." Although, the

mother is emphasized in the framing of this scene and the father is allowed very little input in the

decision, Welles does not place the spotlight on the mother anywhere else in the film, which is exemplary

of her lack of power as a female character. After viewing the film for the first time, last
semester, and viewing it again this semester, my initial lack of enthusiasm for its overall content became

more apparent as I further studied the elements of the film and the roles of the characters. Based on

Welles' Citizen Kane and the intent of the Inquirer to promote the "truth," I am puzzled by the acclaimed

"brilliance" of the film, due to its denigration of the significance of women and noteworthy multicultural

roles in the "newspaper world." Certainly, truth cannot be one-sided, given the "salad bowl" society in

which we inhabit.

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