Why Citizen Kane is Overrated


(Ed.’s Note: The following is an entry by Tevlin crtiquing the movie Citizen Kane, which was recently dubbed the No. 1 Greatest Movie by the American Film Industry on its annual CBS special. It’s written in a sort of broadcast news format. Cue the morse code…) 

This just in, “Citizen Kane Overrated.” It recently has come to the attention of numerous film critics, including myself, that Orson Wells’ 1941 film, Citizen Kane, is one of the most overrated films in the history of American Cinema. No other film stirs such talk of prestige and importance than this epic work. Additionally, no other film on any list of ‘top-rated’ films goes as unwatched as this “masterpiece.” Arguments over Citizen Kane’s brilliance have recently begun to surface and this reporter is willing to be the first to boldly take a stand against the film.

Friday night, tired from an exhausting week, looking to unwind and relax? Well then this writer has no other suggestion to you than to watch the classic film, Citizen Kane. If you have had trouble sleeping and want a sure fire way to get a goodnight’s rest than you should rent, if you can even find it at your local video store, Citizen Kane! There has never been such a celebrated film that no one wants to watch again in their lives. People may rant and rave about the films innovating techniques but pacing certainly wasn’t one of them.

If you’re looking for a way to ‘wow’ a the pretty girl at the bar, start off talking about the film’s use of deep focus, lead into acting and its visual style and then pull the trigger by mentioning how metaphoric the film is and even though the film is a satire about Billy Hearst (act as though you guys were close), it really ends up being about Orson Wells. If this doesn’t work, then invite her back to you dirty dorm room for some delicious Ramen Noodles where you insist on showing her your awesome closet-door-beirut table and special edition DVD copy of CK (by this point in the night your goal is right around the corner and I’m sure she’ll be more impressed if you’re using abbreviations and film jargon she doesn’t understand). If she isn’t waking up next to you in your bed than I bet you have other issues with personality or commitment. I am only one man and not a magician. Side note: I in no ways support or condone the private viewing of this film as a way to seduce women into hanging out in your crappy dorm room or agreeing to anything you or your film-buff college buddies can imagine.

But if it seems you don’t need tips on how to woo a woman and are interested in this film for other reasons than I have some further advice for you: Don’t watch it. That’s about it. Other than a supplement to some film history class you might be attending, I, as a film-guy myself, can see no additional reason to watch Citizen Kane. This film is the type of movie you never want to watch. Well then why is it considered the greatest film of all time? Because, many of these people who support it haven’t even seen the movie and simply follow the popular trend, one could assume. Trust me, you’ll thank this guy ::points to self:: if you don’t waste two hours of your life on this.

In summary, Citizen Kane is a film that offers many contributions technically for the film industry such as editing techniques like the dissolve, deep focus, innovative story telling and a highly original critique of the most successful man at the time the film was produced. However, Citizen Kane is a very slow film that is dull and seems to drag on at many times. The film may be highly celebrated, but it isn’t highly watched.

“The greatest film no one want to see,” is how I would dub it personally. As an interesting way to look at American filmmaking, this film is perfect. But, as a way to spend some time and enjoy a movie, this film is bottom of the barrel.


76 Responses to Why Citizen Kane is Overrated

  1. xxwolfiexx says:

    Tevlin you just wrote an enormous essay saying it sucks because it sucks and don’t see it because its overrated and it sucks because its overrated.

    Ill rewrite it for you…

    Citizen Kane isn’t fun to watch. Its just considered great because its old, metaphorical, and groundbreaking for its time. Don’t waste your time on it unless your a film fanatic.

  2. xxwolfiexx says:

    Kinda looks like you on the DVD cover actually

  3. James says:

    “The greatest film no one wants to see”

    So, like the Bible then?

    • @James says:

      I’m pretty sure the bible is a BOOK….wtf? O_O

      • v says:

        Yeah, James, it is, however most atheists are just ignorant ass holes wanting to insult people of faith every chance they get, so they don’t care about things like “making sense” or “accuracy” or “logic” when hurling said insults ; )

      • Erwin says:

        Duh. The Bible is the “greatest” book ever written, the greatest story ever told… that nobody ever reads.

        Even your pastor wouldn’t be able to say with a straight face that he’s read it from cover to cover and was engrossed with every word.

      • Anonymous says:

        I believe you, V. I truly do.

  4. sean says:

    i’m glad that i read this incredibly insightful critique. by insightful, i don’t mean valuable knowledge brought to light by intentional arguments presented by the original poster. i mean insightful in the sense that you, without even knowing it, have just epitomized everything that is wrong with the majority of america’s taste and intellect. since when did a films greatness become synonymous with superficial entertainment. i understand that citizen kane’s not spider-man 3, as much as you would like it to be, and thank god, too. it’s a work of art, and some people can’t grasp the importance, or the timelessness of this masterpiece, or most other prestigiously acclaimed masterpieces.

    masterpiece; an important and and often flagrantly overused adjective. it’s no wonder you don’t know something great when it smacks you in the face. i can’t tell you how many young people i know, that freely use the word masterpiece, to define their latest favorite films. i heard it the other day, in fact, when a young man was attempting to woo a woman in a bar, with a film called “i am legend.” i know, i know. you are reading this right now, thinking to yourself “wait a minute, i am legend is a masterpiece!” and it is for that very thought, that crystalizes why you probably won’t ever be able to understand the beauty and power of citizen kane. it is because you are a philistine.

    see, for philistine’s, there is really only one type of gratification that one can get, from watching a movie. it the visceral gratification. the “i just passed two hours of my life, in a relatively entertaining way, where, due to the adherence to convention, a plot driven narrative, and a total lack of challenge, i didn’t have to use my brain once!” you know the kind of film, after all, they are your “masterpieces.” the ones that you go to a theatre to pay $10 to watch, only to shit them out and forget about them, before you even get home from the theatre. they are poorly told, filled with cliches, and usually lack any imagination, let alone character development. the fast food films, we’ll call them. the instantly gratifying, and incredibly unhealthy mcdonald’s of films. only, instead of getting fat off of big mac’s, you are becoming stupid, off of no-brainers. there is no exercise to be had from the films. thanks a lot. you are the reason we have so many loud, unintelligent, special effects driven films. pat yourself on the back. for someone who finds gratification from films, or any other art, in solely this manner, makes it no surprise that you would complain about it’s inability to be used as a lure, to woo a woman, in a bar no less.

    as for the other type of gratification, it comes less in the form of a carnival ride of special effects, and more in the form of a mature, thought provoking, and ultimately satisfying intellectual experience. some may even call it an ecstasy. unfortunately, you’ll never be able to appreciate this type of gratification. it requires a deep understanding of the given medium, to be able to appreciate and acknowledge the subtlety, nuance, poignancy, and timeless brilliance, of works such as citizen kane.

    all of this aside, i have to hand it to you. once in a while, i’ll think to myself “man, i wish that i could just lower my standards and forget everything i know about film, let alone drop my i.q. about 50 points, and be able to sit back and be entertained, no gratified, by such a shallow spectacle like 300. after all, ignorance is bliss” but then i think about it again, and realize,”yea, but ignorance is also that of ignorance, the limitation of all limitations. if i were an ant, i’d like to know that there is more to the world outside of my little ant hill. that there is more to life, outside of the repetitive duties of eating, sleeping, and the continual building of my ant hill. and when i realize this, i realize that the only conduit for escaping an ant’s life, is through knowledge. through art.” so, next time you go pay $10 to see some hollywood produced, special effects driven, super-hero drivel, remember the words “ant hill,” and know that it’s not too late. know that there is still time in your life, to build an understanding of the greater things. to escape the exercise in futility, that is your life. to become aware of things outside of your ant hill. there is still time to find and woo proper women, in proper places, like super markets, weddings, restaurants, or any other place for that matter, with the exception of some shitty little shady bar. and you may be surprised that, in these other places, women are more intelligent, and may even be pervious to being wooed by films such as citizen kane. and if by chance, you choose to brush off everything that i have just written, through denial, or, through no fault of your own, the mental incapacity to comprehend it, then you have obviously chosen to live the life of an ant. and as an ant, you’ll have the intellectual insecurities of an ant, and will attempt to guise these insecurities, by bashing intellectual things that escape your comprehension, by simply stating things like “it’s overrated. it’s not entertaining. it was really slow. people just like it because they want to follow a trend. it won’t help me get chicks in the sack, that i’ve met at the beer barn. etc., etc., etc.” but ultimately, after saying things such as these, someone like i will come along, and squash you like the ant that you are, with my giant intellectual boot of a brain. so, go fuck yourself, since you’re not having any luck with the ladies (which is a good thing, because you are preventing the mean i.q. of the surplus population, from dropping a whole 10 points, as a product of birthing the deformed, inbred, intellectually challenged, mutant excuses for children, that you’d probably deny as your own). and as an ant, after fucking yourself, shrivel up and die.
    take care,

    • Anonymous says:

      dude, the movie was dumb. get over it

    • Anonymous says:

      This movie is a bore. It’s one of those things idiots rave about to seem smart. I don’t care if it was good 70 years ago if it’s absolute garbage today. You sir, need some help in the self esteem department.

      • Josh says:

        Too Long 😛 Are you Orson Welles’ grandchild? Haha he was gaAay so that’s out. Then why are you so offended? Is it because life’s a little rough? That’s true I getcha, sometimes you just gotta troll, amirtie? Sometimes I like to mess with people too, its pretty sweet. Im sitting in film class right now and we are about to watch “CK” so I went looking for someone to agree with my own personal opinion that said film is lame. And here I am!!! I guess I’ll have to write my own critique of “CK” so that it holds a little more weight than OP’s, No offense bro 😛
        Point form though my issues are these,
        -Narrative Construction feels un-evolved by current standards
        -Black and white hurts my eyes T-T
        -Film techniques are antiquated
        -Pacing is a slog
        -Rosebud is a pretty weak plot device, yo
        It’s been awhile since i saw the film last time so this is all I’ve got for now, but as I’m moments away from once again tackling this canonical film we’ll see if I’ve got more to add later,


        Billionaire-In-Training XD

      • Josh says:

        Well I finished it. It was alright. I have no grievances against it. Wouldn’t watch it again.

    • Ben says:

      The author specifically stated he didn’t mind slow films. You accuse him of being a “Philistine” who is only interested in cinema for instant gratification and big explosions.
      You seem to be neglecting a very important aspect of this film: it’s boring as fuck. After all the technical achievements, empty metaphors, and un-subtle forced acting, it’s boring.
      If a person doesn’t watch a movie to be entertained, then why do we watch them? There are plenty of intellectually stimulating films that still manage to do what film is meant to do [entertain] without being so boring, slow, and unwatchable. You seem to group movies into two extremes: Citizen Kanes and 300’s. It’s not as simple as that.
      I found this article after a LOT of Googling looking for at least one other person who hated this movie as much as I did. All the other reviews are written by self-affected film buffs who fawn all over it to bolster their own credibility points.
      Other great films that frequently lose out to snoozefests like CK are the Godfather, Star Wars, Gone With The Wind, Casablanca, and The Wizard Oz.
      Tell me, oh great fount of film knowledge, what makes CK better than any of these?
      In short, take your pompous attitude and shove it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t care how many interesting metaphors and camera techniques you cram in a movie, a movie 1st and foremost needs to be entertaining. Would you go see a movie featuring a turd in a toilet just because it’s shot with deep focus? Of course not. I don’t care how you shoot a film, if it’s boring it’s boring, that simple. Citizen Kane: Most Overrated movie of all time, by far. The only people who support it are people like you who thin they’re smarter than everyone.

    • Josh says:

      Well, well! Someone’s a bit full of themselves, hmm?

    • Anonymous says:

      Really champ?
      wahhh some person on the internet didn’t like CK he must be an idiot.

      Get a life sir.

      Oh and CK is the literally a waste of time to watch…

    • ienjoygoodfilms says:

      hey calm down man you wastin yo time typin them words like that

    • Erwin says:

      LOL another brainwashed film poser pretending that he understands greatness by regurgitating the drivel he reads everyone on the internet by “experts.”

  5. HP says:

    Sean, I love you.

  6. Paul says:

    Sean, maybe you should learn how to present yourself in a better manor. Your wall of text is extremely condescending. The moment that you act like you are better than the reader you already failed. The reader will not read another word that you wrote, so you basically just wasted your time. So, in all honesty you are not as smart and gifted as you think you are. If you were a truly gifted individual you would have already known everything that I have just stated. Instead maybe about two people will read your entire post. Go to college and take some writing courses. It will do you good.

    • Josh says:

      “…take some writing courses. It will do you good.”

      Yes, so that you don’t confuse “manner” with “manor.”

      Otherwise, you could find yourself in some extravagant, garish chateau, looking quite witless!

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you self-righteous or something?

  7. kitten says:

    You tell them Sean, some people just need a good kick up the ass

  8. aquaT says:

    i liked it and would watch it again and again

  9. sean says:

    the feeling is more than mutual, hp.

  10. Jose says:

    I was disappointed when I saw the “Greatest Film ever made”. Shoot the people who voted this movie up!

  11. Pete says:

    I saw that this was #1 on AFI top 100…and when I saw it I was so underwhelmed. I think it deserves a spot on the top 100 but nothing in the top 25 imho

  12. AFOH says:

    Indeed, Sean was right on how this film critique is not mature, on how it is neither complex, or artistically aware of the orientations of the diverse senses a great film should take.

    However, our self-assumed polished Sean arrogantly dismissed whatever possible arguments on the shortcomings of the film may ever be expressed, by rejecting whoever doesn’t coincide with his vision on the grounds of this hypothetical-person being a blockbuster-viewer.

    Plus, Sean has gathered his own conceptions from fields much too artistically and subjectively forged.

    The movie has its shortcomings, and as it is artistically tasteful, aesthetically neat, and magnificently innovative for its time, I think its technical grandiosity eclipses some of its more obscure flaws, which aid it in its witty and genial, yet dull composition. The movie has some ordinary grandiosity, and I suspect it will not surpass a heightened production such as The Godfather until critics take a different perspective and care much less -avoiding stagnancy- for the past-time development it nevertheless achieved by its own.

    Defining a great film -as it happens to any criteria defining excellence, for that regard-, is a subjectively-weighed task, but, if we were to get to consensus through historically relevant patterns -as started by critics-, we’d find a rather tidy relevance in matters such as acting, screenplay quality, cinematography, etcetera.

    When judging aside from technical development, Citizen Kane has some of its elements allocated in a more positive scale, such as character development, while the averaged quality gets downgraded in comparison to many feature works, as some specific contents -screenplay, for an arbitrary example-, fall short as movie-making gets an adult tone.

    I recognize Citizen Kane has a proper balance of these variables as a timeless classic, which, added to its historical advancements, impressively work this film’s way along the supreme top of tops, but, as time goes on, and the cinema gets stronger, from time to time, masterpieces emerge -even some strange hybrids filled with quality, mixed with the market device of a prepared blockbuster-, and some (mostly found over the last 3 decades), have a proper balance to even equal Citizen Kane.

    It should not be seen as unrivaled now, as the mainstream conservative studies still do. The execution of such a genius film is one, but its reminiscence -especially on the technical notes-, slowly vanishes. Its cultural impact goes unnoticed, since all the improvements achieved were later expanded in-house by studios, and it is not as famous as some other high-level or even ridiculous films, and its once astonishing compound of technical innovation/renovation, indeed is shadowed by the times as these flow.

    *Just to point it out, Sean got a fact right: subjectivity replacement. From the unappreciative arguments of the kind “I don’t like it cuz’ it sucks”, to the ignorant quasi-hedonist “I didn’t enjoy it”, both appreciations -or demonstrations of lack thereof-, are completely wrong. Serious criticism must not follow these ways, but concentrate on the qualities of the object being judged.

  13. John says:

    I never even Heard of Citizen Kane until I saw AFI top movies. Other overrated films in my opinion
    American Beauty(didn’t get the point of this movie and it seemed only perverted and bizarre)
    The Departed(just another Asian remake into the American society to me plus the main quote is the F word)
    Pulp Fiction(just don’t get this movie)
    No country for old men(good movie just not best picture material I definitely don’t hate this film it’s just that there was no heart to it hardly any emotions and it often seemed dull but Javier Bardem deserved his Oscar)

  14. Lortad says:

    Sean, i love you.

  15. drush76 says:

    Sean, I’m going to have to agree with you. I have tried to watch CITIZEN KANE several times. Yes, the performances are excellent. And I do admire Gregg Toland’s photography. But . . . I just cannot get into this film. I would rather read a biography on W.R. Hearst than watch this movie with its plodding pace.

    • chris says:

      Citizen Kane isn’t meant (at least now, I don’t know how it was compared to the films at the time) as the swashbuckling action/adventure film you might want to watch. It is a movie that explores power, corruption and greed, politics and innocence all through the character of Charles Foster Kane. It is a very dense movie and not for everyone, but those who do not enjoy it are in no position to criticize it.

      • Jay says:

        Not true, there are legitimate flaws in Citizen Kane that can make people think it was written substandardly there for not liking it. Not liking a movie is a big sign that something was wrong with it, and there for worth critiquing. For one, terrible pacing can destroy a great movie. Citizen Kane would have been better if it was shortened by a half hour.

  16. mouth-breather says:

    You’re right, it sucks.

    You know what else sucks? Anna Karenina. I tried reading it, but it was way long. And sure it had interesting plot crossings and deep psychological insights as well as critiques of social roles and Nabakov liked it and all. But I just couldn’t get past the first page.

    And try to invite a girl to your apartment with the line, “Have you ever read Anna Karenina”! Forget about it!

    And another thing that sucks is Bernini’s Ephiphany of Santa Teresa. Sure it’s all rococo and naturalistic and erotic and all. But hell, it’s somewhere in Italy. Who’d ever go there?

    And another thing. Homer. Has anyone really read either of them? I mean, what is an “Iliad”? Come on. It’s simply something to keep comparative lit professors employed.

    And you know what? Prime rib is overrated. I prefer Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. You have to use a fork and knife for prime rib and you can’t put milk on it and eat it in your pajamas.

    I could go on and on. But I just wanted to show that there are other people out here just like you that aren’t going to be fooled by what some egg-heads think.

  17. This movie is one overrated piece of crap. It’s just plain awful. I think it makes all of the “greatest movies of all time” lists because people think it should be there. Well, it should not, especially if any consideration is given to how well it was received by those who have suffered through it.

    As for you Sean, you are clearly a virgin that masturbates regularly to Citizen Kane. Plus you are a douche bag. A virgin douche bag at that.

    • chris says:

      Citizen Kane isn’t meant (at least now, I don’t know how it was compared to the films at the time) as the swashbuckling action/adventure film you might want to watch. It is a movie that explores power, corruption and greed, politics and innocence all through the character of Charles Foster Kane. It is a very dense movie and not for everyone, but those who do not enjoy it are in no position to criticize it.

      • CPB says:

        “Those who do not enjoy it are in no position to criticize it.”

        Is that so? Can I just go ahead and apply that astounding logic to other, clearly overlooked ‘masterpieces’ that some people are just too ‘dumb’ to appreciate? How about Kangaroo Jack, Without A Paddle, Dude Where’s My Car, etc? Oh wait. Those movies were all terrible, but I didn’t enjoy them so I can’t possibly be in a position to criticize them. Derp!

        You can’t just dismiss negative opinions of your overrated ‘masterpiece’ because they don’t agree with you.

      • Erwin says:

        I just watced Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. It was a terrible movie! I did not enjoy it.

        But I can’t criticize it because I didn’t enjoy it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you trying to be witty, Erwin?

      • Anonymous says:

        Erwin, how can you criticize something that you didn’t enjoy? If saw and didn’t like it, you’d criticize it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Erin, how can you not criticize something that you didn’t enjoy? When you criticize something, you prove that don’t enjoy it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who gives a shit if he’s a virgin? Let him be one if he wants to be.

  18. Famous Lame Film Critic says:

    One mans opinion of why they think something is great/aweful. The majority rules, you can rant and rave all you want about the bad taste of american movie goers but hollywood doesn’t make movies that don’t sell. Just because something is classic doesnt mean its great. I love movies that make me laugh, make me scared, and make me think. Go DIAF if you think another mans opinion should affect what you like as a person. K THNX BAI NIGGUHZ

  19. Anonymous says:

    Which is why movies such as “Transformers” and books such as “Twilight” are so great. While they are targeted towards preteens who don’t read, and people who sometimes choke on their own spit, they must be great because they make money.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I had to leave a comment, because I read Sean’s post and found it hilarious.

  21. Kole says:

    This whole thing is pretentious.(not the movie, the debate) First off, debating about which piece of art is the best (?!? I mean, really..) is immature. The sole purpose of art is to connect to the audience and to affect them. So, if some people feel they can’t relate to the movie (thus can’t be affected by it) then it is actually the movie’s problem (although it is not a big problem as it doesn’t necessarily has to affect everybody).

    Secondly, any movie/book/etc. has different meanings depending on who watches/reads it. We are talking about a movie that is almost 70 years old and it meant different things for the different audiences throughout those generations. I honestly doubt that anyone would think this film is great for the same reasons someone did in 1941. Eg. someone may appreciate the cinematic innovation that this film established, but cannot experience it the same way as someone did at the premiere.

    And most of all, there can be millions of reasons to like or dislike something. Saying that someone is stupid based on the conclusion he gets to is being shallow. I could say that anyone who thinks Citizen Kane is the best movie is a smug snobby who wants to look more intelligent and sophisticated by liking something that is considered to be smart and sophisticated. Probably I would be right in many cases, but then there are people who are really connected to the movie and who are honestly affected by it so it would not be right for me to say that.

    By the way, Ingmar Bergman thought that the movie is a “total bore” and that Orson Welles is an “infinitely overrated filmmaker. He must be one of those Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes eating pop-corn movie watching guys.

    • CPB says:

      “He must be one of those Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes eating pop-corn movie watching guys.”

      That was either intended as an ironic joke or you completely underminded your entire post with just one sentence. Congratulations.

  22. Joe says:

    I can see how Citizen Kane is good. I understood all the metaphors and messages and stuff like that when I watched it. But honestly, it just wasn’t that exciting or interesting. It was good, but not great, and certainly (in my opinion) not the best movie ever. For me, that is Pulp Fiction, but everyone has their own opinion, and there will never be a movie that EVERYONE thinks is the best ever.

  23. Timmy says:

    ugh, i am sick of morons like sean. the movie is “ground-breaking” not “interesting” or “the greatest”. you say the movie is too smart for many people. well then, the fact is, that is supportive of our point. it cannot be enjoyed by all, thus not a great movie.

  24. Dojo says:

    Well I watched ‘the greatest movie ever made’ and you know what – it sucked ass.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Sean sounds like the most egotistical bastard that has ever lived.

  26. K says:

    Being a girl, I have to admit I never slept with a guy just because he could bullshit about a movie.

    Most admiration for CK comes from people who learned to admire CK in film school where its wonder had to be shown to them by professors they held in high esteem anyway. Few people sat down with CK unassisted and said, OMG! This movie is freakin’ phenomenal! It should be the greatest in the world! Like most movies it has its good points and bad points, but the mere fact it HAS bad points at all should knock it off the BEST EVER list, among all in the world. We can thank film schools for this honor.

    Now, think back a few years to when he created national panic over War of the Worlds on national radio. People DIED during that fiasco and it took the nation some time afterward calming itself down and repairing the distrust and fear it created of the media and the government. Why didn’t Wells go to jail for that? (http://www.wellesnet.com/?p=293) After all, in 1938, police had no qualms arresting disturbers of the peace but Wells skipped away untouched and not just unscathed but later heralded as the greatest director ever to live! How did this happen to a 24 year old nobody? Not only that, he marries a fabulously beautiful starlet and is the toast of the town as a genius everywhere he went. How does that happen to this arrogant and disliked personally, little toad of a man?

    From a completely different direction consider this: In the 1900s, Thule society and governments on both sides of the Atlantic were trying for some time to contact spirits and extraterrestials. Even Tesla confessed at one point he got some of his ideas from other worldly communications and Edison swore he had invented a machine facilitating communication with the dead. The early 1900s was full of seances and ‘electric girls’ and ghost sightings

    (I know this is really out there … but wait for it…. 😉 )

    If you were the US govt aware of this presence, knowing it to be real, how would you tell a nation to prepare? You can’t just tell them aliens are here before they see any. The govt would lose face as crackpots. But you might want to do a trial run to test the waters. You give a nobody know-it-all 20-something the green light to broadcast a fake invasion and wait to see what happens. Hmmm. Results not what we had hoped…. pandemonium …. bunkers and stockpiling weapons …. neighbors attacking neighbors as aliens … anger against the government. OK> so maybe too soon, right? Maybe we tell them in smaller bits? Maybe we deny eyewitness reports until there are so many worldwide eyewitness reports we can’t deny it and then we just say nothing. By then, people will have had time to adjust at their own pace, forming their own explanations as they go along. In the lull, we prepare as a govt as we can.

    Here’s what I’m suggesting, and I know it sounds bizarre, but hear me out: Orson Wells is a genius because that was the deal made. You can’t give that kind of nonsense job to a forty year old – but a 24 year old ego maniac would grab the brass ring dangled in front of him.

    CK is a masterpiece because film schools say it is. Students who wrote dissertations dissecting its greatness and got A’s for it, will always staunchly defend their idol and their film school educations. And now, after class, they see clearly why they like it. If you don’t like it, well, it’s because you just don’t understand film like they do. After all, they say, that’s the problem for every artist … deplorable ignorance of the masses.

    The bottom line is RK lost money on CK because it’s an OK film with some innovative-for-the-time techniques adored only by film students who love his inspirational in-your-face moxy as a kid in a grown up world. But the average film go-er around the world knew it was just OK – not because they were too stupid to know any better – but because they knew an OK film when they saw it. (And in all fairness, they may still have resented him for the radio broadcast and boycotted it, but that wouldn’t explain the big international yawn over CK)

    Truthfully, as a writer, the ‘rosebud’ ending can be milked as psychologically astute but even that could have been worked into the story better and with more profound impact by a better writer than Wells. It is a dark, interesting film with weak ending that could not have been heralded as astonishing without big money and ivy league educational control to make it happen.

    And that’s even WITHOUT aliens.

  27. Andrew says:

    You say that few people have sat through Citizen Kane and considered it phenomenal? I’m one of them. I don’t go to film school. I don’t even care much for movies in general. I was still blown away by Citizen Kane. It is truly deserving of its “greatest ever” status, and my second favourite film (after Kubrick’s 2001).

    • Anonymous says:

      Okay that’s some coincidence because I think Citizen Kane is the 2nd most overrated movie ever followed closely by 2001: A Space Odyssey.

      Both those movies I find the excellent example of style over substance. 2001 isn’t even really a story, it’s images put together that expects the audience to make a story out of it and find the film’s meanings. And I’m not even trying to diss 2001 with that remark, that’s really what the film’s writers were going for.

      • CPB says:

        Agreed. If an ‘artist’ forces the audience to discern the meaning without revealing what abstract concept the ‘piece’ is trying to convey, they are full of shit. You can read whatever you want into literally anything you want and create a story/meaningful message. For thousands of years people a=have been studying tea rose leaves, tarot cards, the I Ching, etc in an attempt to discern the future, and guess what? Anyone with those tools techinally can predict the future because it’s all what you are reading into the ‘artwork’ in question. I’m tired of filmakers, musicians, and artists among others leaving all of the guesswork up to the audience to decide. YOU are the ‘artist’ it’s YOUR JOB to impart a specific message to us. Leaving the burden on the audience is a weak way of saying, “Hey, I’m really unimaginative and uncreatuve. Could you do me a hugh favor and FIGURE MY SHIT OUT FOR ME? Thanks.”

      • pearceduncan says:

        Man, if you find 2001 difficul, just give up now. Teenagers the whole world over have had no problem following the story and enjoying the movie for close to fifty years.

  28. Pearce says:

    K: Nobody died because of War of the Worlds. Some of the journalists who interviewed Welles & Houseman after the broadcast made up stories about people dying to wind them up, but there is no evidence that anybody actually died.

    And RKO lost money on Citizen Kane because almost no theatres would show it after Hearst made threats.

    I watched Citizen Kane expecting it to be dull but thinking “It’s supposed to be the greatest American movie ever made, so I guess I have to.” I was surprised to find that I was tremendously entertained – and even more surprised to find that I enjoyed a number of Welles’s later movies even more.

  29. gerold says:

    Hey Sean, I guess you consider Ingmar Bergman a philistine, because (you probably didn’t know this) he thought this movie was a piece of sh*t.

  30. Julian says:


    I don’t feel like debating the merits of Kane and its status as masterpiece. Some people brought up solid insights yet, call me film snob, but its genuis is underestimated by those outside the film industry.

    I show the film in a Intro to Film class and while I wholeheartedly agree, especially in first viewing, the story can be a bit underwhelming. Someone used the word dense in a response i read an that and power, corruption, and one man’s life/development is at its root and is why the film is such genuis. Every level of film excelence is achieved.

    Are there “better” and more subjectively entertaining films, sure. But here is the final point – its ability to achieve this excellence on every level gives it the well-earned masterpiece status.

    Consider this regarding the complex story simply defined: 5 narrators provide flashback insight into Kane the man as a reporter searches for insight into Kane’s dying last words – “rosebud.”

    The genuis of every frame puts a smile on my face as I write this and would love to further sells its merits, simply thoough, does it have flaws, yes, is it the “greatest film of all-time”? If not, then damn near so. And if not, then what? Birth of a Nation? The Great Dictator? Metropolis? Rear Window? Napoleon? Lawerence of Arabia? 2001: A Space Odyessy? The Godfather? Porter? Melies? Gone With the Wind? Wizard of Oz? Un Chien Andalou? Star Wars?…

  31. Jamie says:

    I have tried and tried to sit through this boring bloody movie, but have never succeeded. To say that this is the greatest American film of all time is pretentious nonsense – rather like these people who say that their favourite novel of all time is Jane Austen’s ‘Pride & Prejudice’. This is only because they were forced to read it at school, and in some cases it is possibly the only novel which they have read in their entire lives.

    Yes, you are right – ‘Citizen Kane’ has a pleasant, soporific effect – highly recommended if you are an insommniac.

  32. A S says:

    Wow. I think that almost everyone here (especially Sean) took this humorous and light-hearted review way, way too seriously.

    Sean lapsed into a total nerd-rage and I have to say it was hilarious and much more entertaining than Citizen Kane!

    • lulzMcLulzfadden says:

      ITT: Hipsters trying to look cool/intelligent by dissing a movie they don’t understand the significane of. lulz ensues

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m glad that he did. But as for that nerd-rage of his, get over it. And you’re deluded for thinking that it’s hilarious.

      So what if he’s a nerd? This world needs them, except the ones who I never really liked.

      If you hate what Sean typed, then shut up and get off this webpage.

  33. Anonymous says:

    So, basically this guys argument is “It’s BORINGH!!!!11111111 Fuck off, seriously. If you’re going to criticize a film, the absolute last thing you should call it is “boring”. That just proves you clearly haven’t the slightest clue of what you’re talking about. People like you just want to look superior by bashing something that most people consider to be good.

    In all honesty, Kane was a really good movie. I wouldn’t consider it the greatest, but in the end it all comes down to opinion anyways.

  34. Anthony Salemi says:

    I guess I’m ahead of the power curve, in that I thought it was insufferable years ago. The only part of the fillm I liked was the words “The End” burned across the screen. Anyone who knows anything about Orson Welles knows he milked an entire career out of this film; he never once deflected praise for himself or this movie. In fact no one took more bows for himself and his work than Orson Welles. Funny thing about genius, if you can convince the masses that it’s art, when it’s not, then I guess you are!

  35. Malcolm Kyle says:

    I couldn’t wait to delete it from my disc drive. Now, how am I going to delete it from my memory?

  36. Anonymous says:

    Overrated? I guess that it takes an overrated person to know another one.

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