Friday, May 11, 2012

Final Exam
By Tyler Doepker

1)      “Citizen Kane” is one of the most influential films ever made. Discuss this statement.

Citizen Kane was Welles’ first film; he was 25 years old. The fact that a person was able to create a film at the age 25 is an impressive feat by itself. However, Welles took it further and created a film that is still considered the best film ever made even 70 years later. Without that influencing the judgement, Welles layered many techniques together. He carefully thought about everything in the movie that happened; he produced, co-wrote, chose cast and crew, did the soundtrack and editing, and played the lead role. With the soundtrack he often created his own sounds with his knowledge from the radio industry.  With the editing he used multiple techniques in one shot scene. He used a lot of deep focus shots along with a spot light to create a larger depth perception and make the set seem much larger than it was. He thought that as the producer he was in charge of lighting for each shot, which he was more than capable of doing with his experience in theatre. So, for every shot he did the lighting and the cinematographer would just work with what Welles had done. In addition to this, he brought back different techniques with moving cameras and boom shots that had almost vanished since the silent film days. Even the multiple narration style that he used to tell the story had never really been done before. Most films that are released  will excel at one aspect of the film making process; Citizen Kane on the other hand excelled in every aspect, and in some cases he invented whole new aspects of film making.

2)      What had Orson Welles done in his first 23 years of life to warrant the Hollywood Film Industry offering complete creative control to a first time filmmaker?
When Welles was 15, he left school and went to Europe. He made his way to the Gate Theatre in Dublin and claimed to be a big Broadway star. His bluff worked in a manner of speaking; the director did not believe him but they were impressed enough to give him a chance. Three years later, he returned back to America and toured with Katherine Cornell, performing in many Shakespeare plays. By the time he was twenty years old he was already considered to be a prodigy. In 1935, New York producer John Housman joined the two and was a major part of their shows. In 1937, Welles and Houseman started the Mercury Theatre. It was pretty shaky financially and Welles was keeping it afloat with the money he was making from radio. He was the one who scared all of America in 1938 with his “War of the Worlds” story he told on air. In 1939 Mercury Theatre when bankrupt, Welles plan was to go to Hollywood and make some quick cash to revive his theatre.
3)      Pick an extended scene or sequence from “Citizen Kane” and discuss the storytelling technique by analyzing and combination of its component parts (direction, writing, performance, cinematography, production design, art direction, editing, sound, score, ect).
The scene I am going to analyze is the campaign speech. The scene itself is significant because it was right before things start to go wrong for him. The fact that he still has everything going for him in this scene made the lighting more bright and vibrant, as the film goes on and he starts to lose things the lighting gets progressively darker. He does not say much of anything during the speech, he makes a couple jokes, and he makes a few references to the working man. At the end of the speech was the only time he makes any indication of what he will do as governor, and that was to put his opponent Boss Jim Gettys in jail. I think Welles plays the part very well in this scene. He has great stage presence, there is not much movement going on, but his gestures and body language are as if he is actually talking to a full stadium, when in fact the audience was added in with special effects. The set for this scene was a stage and then there were separate shots of people in private booths. If you watch closely, they never show any faces in the general audience, it is either close-ups of the people in the booths or a shot of just the people on stage. There were a lot of moving camera shots during this scene, they would start from further away with a view of the entire stadium and then progressively zoom in until Kane was the only one in frame. In total there were 16 separate shots that made up this scene.

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