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The Language of the “Citizen Kane” Film

The film Citizen Kane is notable not only with the story it uncovers for the audience but also with its effective use of cinematography techniques. The film’s deep-focus photography, mise en scène, lighting, and camera movements have earned numerous appraises by critics over the decades after Citizen Kane was filmed. In his book “Understanding movies,” Giannetti provides a thorough analysis of the film and covers different aspects, from photography and visuals to the story and ideology the movie presents. This paper aims to discuss the language of Citizen Kane and view it from Giannetti’s perspective.

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The language of the film refers to verbal and non-verbal elements that send the message to the viewer, such as visual and sound effects, editing, lighting, and acting. When analyzing a film, it is crucial to consider its language since it has a direct impact on the audience’s feelings and thoughts. Citizen Kane, in this regard, was revolutionary for its epoch. As Giannetti (2007) states, the film used some techniques that were not new, but they were skillfully combined. The use of deep-focus photography that shows group action, low-key lighting, the contrast between the fore- and backgrounds, and cut from long shots to extreme closeups engage the viewer into the action. The high angle implies the action’s fatality, while camera movements comply with the person it portrays. Young characters are represented through a mobile camera, and older people appear through a static camera. I did not pay attention to this detail as I watched Citizen Kane for the first time; however, I find this technique effective to convey the atmosphere and characters’ moods. The image aspect is crucial since the visual channel represents most of the information in the film.

Besides, sound and lighting are worth mentioning as they add significantly to the audience’s experience. Giannetti (2007) notes that Welles, the director, contributed to the development of film sound techniques, due to his background in live radio drama. For instance, rapid sound transitions accompany scene cuts, often shocking the viewer. Overlapping the dialogue is another effect that creates controversial feelings of fun and sadness. Music highlights the main characters and significant events, and in Citizen Kane, it is often presented in a newsreel sequence, just as the photography. I can now notice that even the Rosebud motif was used differently in the film, based on the significance of the scenes. From the opening scene, throughout the investigation, and up to the reveal of the mystery, the music theme grows and intensifies. As to the lighting in Citizen Kane, the film pictures the main character in different lights throughout his life. For instance, in Kane’s promising young years, the lighting is high key, while older, cynical character grows darker just like the film’s lighting. Overall, all the details serve to enhance the viewers’ experience and intensify their feelings.

To sum up, the language of Citizen Kane is discussed in this paper. Giannetti’s analysis is considered, and different aspects of the film are studied. It can be concluded that the director uses every cinematography technique to emphasize his idea and enhance the audience’s experience. As the main character grows, every aspect, such as camera movements, angles, lighting, and music, evolves to reflect the change. The uniqueness of the movie lies in its effective use of techniques and innovations.

Reference

Giannetti, L. (2007). Understanding movies (11th ed.). Prentice Hall.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, March 23). The Language of the “Citizen Kane” Film. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-language-of-the-citizen-kane-film/

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Language of the “Citizen Kane” Film'. 23 March.

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