Citizen Kane 75th Anniversary Blu-ray Review: An Underwhelming Celebration of Cinema History

Welles' legendary masterwork gets yet another Blu-ray release, courtesy of Warner Bros.
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What can you say about Citizen Kane that hasn't already been said? Director/actor/writer/producer Orson Welles' controversial landmark film has been dissected, acclaimed, and talked about for over 75 years. Its innovative flashback structure, piercing cinematography, amazing performances, and overall production have been forever integrated into the popular culture lexicon since its 1941 release. It's also a very ambitious depiction of a man's epic rise and fall that remains accurate to this day. 

Everyone knows the plot to the classic film: the study of Charles Foster Kane, a powerful newspaper magnate who eventually becomes undone by his own ambition and wealth. He loses everything and everyone closest to him and eventually dies alone in his giantic mansion called Xanadu. The story delves into a mystery, especially when Kane says his final word, "Rosebud." Afterwards, a reporter comes in contact with everyone who knew him to solve the meaning of one of the most famous words in cinematic history. 

I can't recall a particular moment in the film because every frame is a work of art that continues to age quite well. The use of deep-focus shots, multi-character perspectives, narrative conposition, Gregg Toland's renowed camerwork, and Welles himself. Each and every viewing seem to reveal more details than the last. This tends to overshadow the actors and their performances, especially those of Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead, who would go on to have legendary careers of their own. 

There was a time where Welles was the reigning king of Hollywood, a man whose genius knew no bounds. However, the more successful he became, the bigger his ego increased. Doing some research for the film, I discovered that he pretty much took most of the credit himself, which confirmed the ego-trip aspect. Say what you will about his infamous personality, but there is no denying his place in film history. It's no surprise that there have been many books, documentaries, and podcasts dedicated to Welles and his career. 

I have to say for a 75th anniversary release, I was sadly underwhelmed, and if you happen to have the previous DVD and Blu-ray editions, I wouldn't be in a hurry to upgrade. Obviously, both the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Battle Over Citizen Kane, and the incredible HBO telefilm, RKO 281, are missing from this release. However, both of the wonderful commentaries by Roger Ebert and Peter Bogdanovich are included, as well as The Opening: World Premiere of Citizen Kane brief snippet, interviews with Ruth Warrick and Robert Wise, production galleries (including commentary by Ebert), post production galleries, and the iconic theatrical trailer should be almost cathartic, especially for those who don't alreadly have the film in their collection.

In closing this review, if you don't overthink too much of the plot, you're sure be in for one of the most memorable, and cinematic experiences of your life. With multiple viewings, you'll realize how many of its techniques have been borrowed by many other filmmakers for years. No matter which edition you have, you will always have a piece of cinema history that continues to live on forever.

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