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luka
21-03-2005, 10:49 PM
can anyone explain why this is consistently voted the best film ever in every poll ever condeucted, whther it's a poll of critics, directors or the general public. i watched it with craner the other day. no way is that the ebst film ever, in fact we watched a better one on the horror channel straight afterwards, shiver of the dammned or something. now that was a film.
how did it get that number one spot, i don't get it, best flim by a 25 year old sure, not of all time.
heres some better film
l'atlante/vertigo/throne of blood/stalker/the leopard/any number of bergman ones/bill and teds excellent adventure/

craner
21-03-2005, 10:57 PM
'Shiver of the Vampires' by Jean Rollin.

Be fair, Lesbian Love Pygmies and Vampire Dandies are hard to top.

Film critics understand nothing.

It's simply an affliction they have - someone once termed it "training," I think.

Omaar
22-03-2005, 01:26 AM
Wow, Rollin certainly has some awesome film titles:

http://imdb.com/name/nm0738395/

I would very much like to see some of these films.

Citizen Kane just hasn't anything in it that on a personal level makes me want to call it a favourite film of mine.

Things like L'Atalante, Persona, Vertigo etc I think of as brilliant films that also have these qualities that appeal to my own sensibilities, and I guess part of me likes to build my identity around my taste in film.

However after playing around on a still camera a bit lately I would be curious to check out how depth of field works in Citizen Kane cos I remember its supposed to be groundbreaking or something.

owen
22-03-2005, 03:48 AM
Citizen Kane just hasn't anything in it that on a personal level makes me want to call it a favourite film of mine.

Things like L'Atalante, Persona, Vertigo etc I think of as brilliant films that also have these qualities that appeal to my own sensibilities, and I guess part of me likes to build my identity around my taste in film.

nothing wrong with that.....but well that's kind of the point innit, very little about citizen kane is 'personal', it goes for BIG STATEMENTS about AMERICAN SOCIETY and CAPITALISM and the MEDIA and POWER and though it does this in a rather obvious way, this is kindof why i love it. it isn't afraid to be sweeping, mannered and dramatic (and these are all good things in my book)

i kind of react to criticism of kane like some people do with shakespeare or the beatles....not liking it just seems contrarian in a really tedious way (not that this is a defensible view by the way, it just raises my hackles a bit)

it gets better if you see it lots of times

Omaar
22-03-2005, 03:58 AM
yeah I may have to see it again I reckon, though I remember thinking that before I saw it again last time.

I know what you mean about that contrarian thing, and it irks me too, though having said that I don't really like the beatles (mostly) ... and I err... don't really know shakespeare so don't have much of an opinion on that ...

Although I do really love The Third Man and that is constantly at the top of best of lists, so I'm now reassured that I'm not deliberately or at least consistently contrary.

I'm sure I'm rather fond of some films that involve "BIG STATEMENTS about AMERICAN SOCIETY and CAPITALISM and the MEDIA and POWER ", and when I said 'personal' i didn't mean that the film itself necessarily would need to operate on a personal scale for me to like it.

What's the magnificent ambersons (sp?) like? Anyone seen it?

I though touch of Evil was pretty fine.

Backjob
22-03-2005, 06:47 AM
I met Jean Rollin once. He was a doddery old frenchman, and he explained that basically all his life he's had this erotic fixation on women in white, in graveyards, with blood on their white dresses, and that all his films are basically just ways to get as many of these shots in as possible. Whenever he finds a nice scenic new graveyard, he makes a new film.

What a great way to operate...

Woebot
22-03-2005, 08:01 AM
can anyone explain why this is consistently voted the best film ever in every poll ever condeucted, whther it's a poll of critics, directors or the general public. i watched it with craner the other day. no way is that the ebst film ever, in fact we watched a better one on the horror channel straight afterwards, shiver of the dammned or something. now that was a film.
how did it get that number one spot, i don't get it, best flim by a 25 year old sure, not of all time.
heres some better film
l'atlante/vertigo/throne of blood/stalker/the leopard/any number of bergman ones/bill and teds excellent adventure/

I think Citizen Kane benefits from being seen from a few perspectives. First of all its status is such a doxy that its easy to forget that Orson Welles was a collossal fuck-up genius black sheep. He only ever got to make three big Hollywood films as a director The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil and Kane and was considered to much of a risk for them to let him near anything else. Its not like he's this establishment firgure, this was the guy who terrorised New York with the War of The Worlds Radio show!

Also what may be difficult to see these days is that Kane was made in 1941 and Welles and his cinematographer Greg Toeland were mashing it up with hardcore cinematographic technology (new lenses, really exploring depth of field, crazy lighting shit) OK, enough with the brap brap stuff, just trying to sell it to you garage kids:). Theres a really profound pairing of the new technology and Welles uses it to open up loads of meaning. You watch that film beside another offering from 1941 and you'd see what I meant.

henrymiller
22-03-2005, 08:29 AM
it's terrific!

and so is 'ambersons', although the ending is completely fucked. the deal with 'kane' is PARTLY the cinematographic innovation (it was a kind of compendium of new techniques) and PARTLY because it did go all-out on the Big Questions... and it's even pretty glib about the fact it can't answer them. but what do you expect, it's by a 25 year old. my problem with it is probably the acting, which is v theatrical, perhaps unsurprisingly given that only toland had ever worked on movies before and everyone else was a n00b.

luka
22-03-2005, 09:15 AM
no one's claiming it's a load of shit. just that it doesn't deserve the number one spot on every 'best of' poll ever conducted. i just wonder how it came to be given that status in the first place

Diggedy Derek
22-03-2005, 09:22 AM
Just like "best record ever" polls, the winners are always a compromise between cultural impact, innovation, historical importance, personal achievement, and Kane is certainly a bit of a compromise choice. However, it is unique on many, many levels, so it's perhaps the least-bad choice to top such a poll (of course the real winner should be Tokyo Story in my eyes, but this is rather a personal judgement...).

Mega post on Kane coming soon, but for now it's worth remembering that it gets better and better with every single watch. Anyway, does anyone know what Kano's album is going to be called? Can anyone assure me that it won't be called- eek- Citizen Kane?

Backjob
22-03-2005, 10:18 AM
No question but it's the most "important" film ever. Pretty much all cinema history from '41 onwards would be different if it weren't for Kane. It invents most of the tricks that subsequent directors used.

owen
22-03-2005, 12:24 PM
its status does have something to do with the myth of welles, the icarus guff that often gets trotted out when people talk about it....i.e, all the stuff about how it is actually a prophecy of his own decline, etc etc

(which obviously i have no truck with....the films he made in europe are hugely underrated- some days i prefer 'the trial' to citizen kane, and 'f for fake' is wonderful as well)

Diggedy Derek
28-03-2005, 07:07 PM
Worth clearing up the depth of field aspect of Citizen Kane. Greg Toland had done depth of field stuff before, in a naval documentary (or something like it), immediately before Kane. But it had been done even earlier, by Jean Renoir I believe, if not with quite the sharpness and definition they attained on Kane. The way depth of field is used on Kane is poetry, but it was not unique. Depth of field photography was only made possible with improvements in film stock, and with most technological improvements you have a sneaking suspicision that innovation tends to follow technology rather than the other way round. But there's loads of other things which makes Kane really wonderful anyway, so we don't need to worry about it too much.

For starters, the way Citizen Kane tells it's story is elegant and utterly compelling- not just a film about someone, but because it tells it through journalists, it's a film about the intrinsic difficulty of getting to know who someone/anyone is- and of course about the indefinability of any notion of personal identity. Not that it's a riddle, because it's explicit in the film- "maybe Rosebud was something he couldn't get, or something he lost. Anyway, I don't think it would have explained everything. I don't think any word can explain a man's life. No, I guess Rosebud is just a piece in a jigsaw puzzle... a missing piece"- the narrative moves backwards and forwards, and what you know at the end isn't that much different from at the beginning, except now it's poignantly clear that you know how much you don't know about him.

That's what for me is what's so great about the film really. It's a film about myths and myth makers, and the extraordinary gulf between Kane the superconfident newspaper editor and the shell of a man in Kubla Kahn expresses the transience of such myths. This is pretty cool stuff I think, especially in the context of The Hollywood Studio Film which was explicitly designed to martial plot-points towards shaping some sort of conclusion; here the conclusion is ambiguity itself.

Anyway, lots of other cool things about the film. Visually it's extrememly poetic, like that invisible cut from a photo of journalists to the actual group of them- "ideas become reality", ie the very essence of the myth-making CF Kane, and a breathtakingly exciting device (deployed at an appropriately exciting point in the film). Also, the visual world of Kane involves low shots and visible ceilings, something you'd had in German cinema for years; Hollywood films before Kane look flat and two-dimensional compared to it.

It also uses those newspapers and intertitles in an incredibly dramatic way. If you look and listen closely, you can see that the footage is archive stuff, and the reverb on the voice to imitate a loud hailer is a cheap echo, but this makes it all the more impressive an achievement- let's use real documentary footage (I think it does anyway), lets make our own footage look like documentary. Let's create our own self-referential, self-reflexive world.

I think in the end it's a film about story-telling, how many sides there are to every story, and how they don't neccesarily add up to a whole. Yet it does this on an sublime scale (unlike, say, Rashomon). That's a brave and heroic thing to do with a narrative based art form.

Admittedly it's not my favorite film or anything (I'm barely interested in it's political ideas about America) but it's got much that's great about European film, much that's great about American film, a brilliantly ambiguous narrative, found new ways to enrichen film as a text (self-referentiality etc.), there's a great big chunk of Welles' personality, plus it's an astonishing personal achievement for a 25 year old. For that reason it's a massively, massively important film.

For me, the only film which springs to mind as a "great leap forward" like Kane is Rossellini's Voyage In Italy. Both films made what was made before seem prematurely dated.

Rambler
29-03-2005, 12:52 PM
That's a really great post, Derek. About sums it up.

I'd also add, on top of the camerawork, story, acting, visuals effects, etc. that the sound is pretty special too. That scene (just after the photo of the journalists Derek mentions) with the song and dance celebrations - apparently all the sound (musicians, background hubbub, close-up conversations, the lot) was recorded live - this is before multitrack sound studios and the like.