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Introduction The Making of Citizen Kane gives a fascinating account of all of the steps in making the masterpiece film. Robert Carringer gives a rendering of the behind the scenes of the movie, with a special detail of all that made the film special. What is soon made clear is that the movie was Orson Welles' “baby” from start to finish…
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Book Review of The Making of Citizen Kane
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Download file to see previous pages Not for Welles was the standard Hollywood sets and cinematography, as Welles intentionally set out to find an iconoclastic cinematographer and essentially turned him loose to use all the cutting edge techniques he could create. Welles worked hand in hand with Gregg Toland, the cinematographer in question, and his control over the script was just as tight. While Herman Mankiewicz, himself a Hollywood staple, wrote the bones of the script, Welles finessed it into a tight characterization of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. And, while Hearst tried to kill the film, the film did, in fact, almost die, it soon rose up to become what is widely considered the greatest movie ever made. Carringer's book explores exactly how the movie gained this distinction. Discussion The initial chapter details the scriptwriting of the film. Originally called American, the script which was given by Mankiewicz and Houseman had the underpinnings of the eventual story, even if it was overlong and too detailed. The memorable touch of the main character making his deathbed utterance of “Rosebud” was credited to Mankiewicz as an ingenious way to set up the framework of the picture, in which the story of the main character, Kane, is told entirely in flashbacks of Kane's life. The original script as submitted by the team was rudimentary and lacked dramatic structure. There were simply too many scenes which did not move along the story. The portrayal of the main character was similarly unfocused. In other words, Kane himself was an amalgamation of traits and actual events culled from the life of Hearst, but actual characterization of the man was lacking. Who Kane was and what he stood for was not immediately obvious in this first incarnation. Moreover, the original script was essentially a roman a clef of Hearst, as opposed to being what it was supposed to be – a character who is merely based upon Hearst, even if the basis upon Hearst is tight as opposed to loose. The description of how the script took shape – from a series of anecdotes based upon the life of Hearst, into the tight, dramatic script that it became – is fascinating. Traits from different characters were converged into one character. Scenes were deleted because of redundancy or because they really didn't drive the story. Other scenes were added. Welles revised or added 170 pages to the script after taking it over, which comprised over half the original script. Where the Kane in the original script by Mankiewicz was “cardboard,” the Kane in the gradually revised script became enigmatic and complex. Three dimensional instead of one. Some of the seamier revelations of the book were that Herman Mankiewicz, the screenwriter for the movie, had a drinking problem, which is the reason why he decided to do his work away from the Hollywood spotlight. Welles himself was portrayed as a bit of a narcissist at times. For instance, Carringer asserts that, despite the intense work that Mankiewicz put into the script before the Welles revisions, Welles intended that only he, Welles, would get credit for the writing of the script. In the end, Welles had to relent to Mankiewicz, but not before Mankiewicz fought back and built a word of mouth campaign to save his legacy. As it turned out, the screenplay was the only Academy Award that the film won. Next was the description of the art direction. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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