Thursday, December 2, 2010

Citizen Kane in our Time

Black and white spooling along in the darkness and my son shrugs when I tell him this is one of the great movies of all time. Sure it is. But you watch it and you see why. Wells was onto something with his spoof of the great media mogul William Randolph Hearst. Especially in our media age of conglomeration where Fox fronts for Murdock's agenda and those that cross him cross at their peril. Presidents beware, Hearst is alive and well. But Orson Wells is the boy genius who put it altogether.

That's what comes across when you watch the movie. Wells. He was laughing his way through having a studio give him the money and the means to make his movie. Having one hell of a time as he took over the Enquirer and made a name for himself and played Hearst through his demise. And of course Wells was playing with fire and paid the price. He found himself black listed after the movie. His later projects never had the lustre nor the backing. The Magnificent Ambersons was finished by the studio.

But genius shines through. And Wells original vision is there at a time when movie making was pretty dull. Along comes this man who breaks just about every rule with angle shots, lighting, montages, the whole structure thrown on its head . But Orson Wells is the star of Citizen Kane even in his bald mask getting wheeled around his estate as a broken down old Kane. And in that moment he is Kane. He had made his opus and would pay the same high price as his character: isolation, broken health, loneliness. Art and life imitating each other over and over again.
Rocket Man will be out in January

Books by William Hazelgrove