Movie Notes: Citizen Kane

I took a single class in film theory in college, and the professor droned on endlessly about Citizen Kane. One thing he kept repeating was that at the end of the movie it’s never revealed what the word “rosebud’ means. To the professor, this was the best thing about the film because “it opened it up to multiple interpretations.”

I’m a very primitive reader and movie watcher. I read for the plot. And I watch even more for the plot. I have no interest in a movie that doesn’t tell an interesting story. Everything else the professor (and the textbook) said made me hate the movie even more: fragmented, disjointed, never comes into a coherent story (which the professor loved). I avoided the movie for 20 years after that class.

Now that I have finally seen Citizen Kane, I’m thinking the professor was dotty. Both Rosebud and the snowglobe are explained very clearly. Yes, the movie brings together different strands but that doesn’t make it disjointed. Human life tends to be complicated like that.

I never thought I could hate that film theory class even more than I already did but now I truly detest it. It’s a great movie, and only a primitive mind can’t grasp the powerful idea it transmits.

Should I now try Gilda? This is another movie I detest without ever seeing it because of that class.