AFI Movie Club: CITIZEN KANE – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: CITIZEN KANE

CITIZEN KANE is ranked #1 on both AFI’s original and 10th anniversary lists of the greatest American movies ever made. The pivotal opening line of the film, “Rosebud,” that Charles Foster Kane utters in his last moments, appears at #17 on the American Film Institute’s list of all-time greatest movie quotes. Orson Welles – the director, producer, co-writer and star of CITIZEN KANE – received the third AFI Life Achievement Award in 1975.  

Watch Leonard Maltin introduce CITIZEN KANE:

Movie Trivia about CITIZEN KANE

DID YOU KNOW?  

Orson Welles was only 24 when he signed a contract with RKO Radio Pictures to produce, write, direct and act in one film per year.  

DID YOU KNOW?  

Orson Welles cast many collaborators from his days at The Mercury Theatre, including Agnes Moorhead, Ray Collins and Joseph Cotten.  

DID YOU KNOW?  

Orson Welles invented and perfected the “deep focus shot” with cinematographer Gregg Toland. The distinctive shot gives clarity to both foreground and background elements, thereby providing the illusion of depth.  

DID YOU KNOW 

Orson Welles and Gregg Toland cut holes in the floors of their sets and had ceilings built so that they could use low camera setups more realistically.  

DID YOU KNOW?  

During the scene in which Kane yells at Boss Jim Getty, Welles fell 10 feet and injured his ankle. For the next two weeks, he directed from a wheelchair – and shot around himself in scenes requiring his character Charles Foster Kane.  

DID YOU KNOW?  

Legendary Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann’s debut film score was for CITIZEN KANE.  

DID YOU KNOW?  

Hearst editors were ordered to keep publicity, advertisements and reviews of all RKO films out of their newspapers. CITIZEN KANE was based on publisher William Randolph Hearst, and the newspaper titan was not thrilled with the portrayal.  

DID YOU KNOW?  

CITIZEN KANE was nominated for nine Academy Awards® and Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz won for Best Screenplay.  

DID YOU KNOW?  

The original nitrate negatives of CITIZEN KANE were lost in a fire in the 1970s.  

DID YOU KNOW?  

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg bought one of the three prized balsa wood “Rosebud” sleds made for CITIZEN KANE at an auction in 1982.   

Learn more at the AFI Catalog

 

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-What do we learn about Charles Foster Kane and his fortress Xanadu from the opening sequence? 

-What camera shots and optical effects are used in CITIZEN KANE, and what do they reveal about the power dynamics between the characters? 

-What do Charles Foster Kane and Walter Parks Thatcher’s differing political views represent? 

-What do you think of William Randolph Hearst’s response to the film? Was it warranted and what does it reveal about the publishing magnate? 

-How do you think the film is a commentary on the American dream? 

-What is the meaning of “Rosebud” and what does it symbolize to Kane in the end? 

-Why do you think CITIZEN KANE is considered the greatest film of all time? Do you think that CITIZEN KANE is the greatest film ever? 

-How would you rate CITIZEN KANE? 

 

Watch this exclusive AFI Archive video in which filmmakers including Steven Spielberg, Debbie Reynolds and Martin Scorsese talk about CITIZEN KANE:

 

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.

 

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