Anatomy of a Scene: Citizen Kane

CITIZEN KANE is a masterful film for many reasons, and it’s one of my favorites.  This scene is about 18 minutes into the film and is a flashback of Charles Foster Kane’s early life.  Although this film was made in 1941, it is an amazing piece of work.  Deftly choreographed and shot, there is nothing in this scene that couldn’t be done on any budget, small or large.

Welles and Cinematographer Toland work on all three planes and in all three spaces within those planes.  There are essentially only three shots in this scene and Welles illustrates to us that powerful scenes can actually be shot simply when we break away from common film practice.

This scene boldly illustrates that film is a visual medium. Great films can be viewed without sound and are still understood.  That is the case here and that’s why CITIZEN KANE is one of my essentials to study.