Citizen Kane – Orson Welles – 1941

1. The narrative structure of Citizen Kane, the way the story is told, is one of the film’s most distinctive aspects, and certain episodes in the film serve more than one function. What functions does the “News on the March” newsreel serve? What does it provide for you, the viewer?

2. The story of Citizen Kane is told primarily in flashback, and some episodes are related more than once by different people. What is the effect of this? Do the different versions of events contradict each other? Is there any significance to who tells what?

3. Many people (including Welles himself) have referred to the whole “Rosebud” devise as “dollar book Freud,” a cheap and superficial plot device. What do you think Rosebud contributes to the film? Is it meant to “explain” Kane’s character? Does it? Assuming you haven’t guessed already, do you feel cheated when Rosebud is explained at the end?

4. When Orson Welles first saw RKO studios, he is reported to have said, “This is the biggest electric train set a boy ever had to play with.” Is this feeling reflected in Citizen Kane? In what ways?

5. Citizen Kane employs much “depth of focus” photography, which allows people and objects to be in sharp focus both in the foreground and the background simultaneously. In which sequences is this particularly evident? What does this technique contribute to the film?