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.

5 thoughts on “Movie Notes: Citizen Kane”

  1. “Should I now try Gilda?”

    huh? I think you’re professor was goofy (to be as diplomatic as possible) everyone person in my generation knew exactly what rosebud was before seeing the movie…

    I don’t know Gilda but I recently saw the Third Man, not so American but very, very good. I also only saw Rear Window in the last few years and it’s kind of a marvel…

    I still think you should check out some Bette Davis, my personal recommendation is Now Voyager (which I mentioned before)…. or the Maltese Falcon (remembered as Bogart’s movie but Mary Astor is the real gem).

    Or….. The Hard Way (1943) with a sister stepping into the role of toxic hell-mother….


  2. Watch Gilda now. And The Third Man. AND The Magnificient Ambersons! AND Touch of Evil!!!

    I watched Citizen Kane 3 times in a row when I was 15.

    Your professor was dumb, but I remember a similar comment made by a CEGEP professor, unfortunately.


  3. I only saw it once, 20 years ago, and I could not care less about the editing issues then. I thought that you would like the story, hence my recommendation.

    Also, a lesser-known Film Noir, low-budget, but my favorite from the genre : Detour. When you have time.

    Such a beautiful playground you are in.


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