When was the last time you watched and enjoyed Citizen Kane? What? You’ve never seen it? Figures! Then you probably think that Ingmar Bergman was a female wrestler. Hope against hope... understand this: Citizen Kane is the zenith, the apex... it completed the migration of theatre into cinema. No film before or since defined the nucleus of cinema, the art form of the 20th century, as this seminal 1941 masterpiece did. With great danger and risk, it captured lighting from the eye of the viewer and editing from the mind of the viewer and it redefined film acting. All from the mind of a 26-year old actor/director/producer/magician and visionary who knew little about filmmaking, who cared even less about moviemaking, who dared to ask “why not?”, who drove a stake into the desert of Hollywood from which a gushing spring erupted that gave light and sustenance to Bergman, Kubrick, Kurasawa, Satyajit Ray,Truffaut, Lean, Hitchcock, Scott and a host of other masterful filmmakers who followed.
With this film, he also made a bold attempt to solve the last lingering barrier in the medium... quantum time – past, present, future – always so clumsily addressed in the ever-present “flashback.”He used the muscle of stunning visuals ripped and tormented by breathtaking editing. It didn’t quite work. It was finally solved ten years later by Swedish director, Alf Sjöberg with Miss Julie.
1941. The art form had a 40-year history of ingenuity and wide-eyed, wide-mouthed creative daring.The industry had only 20 years of flowering capitalism, by the millions. And then Orson Welles appeared
He was a superb film actor. He brought a natural acting talent from the stage, shaped by charisma, a sense of simplistic movement, a magnificent speaking voice with the control of a trained opera singer, and a vibrant sense of theatricality. He instinctively and immediately understood the embrace of the camera. It was a love affair that lasted until he died.
He was also a superb radio actor (as well as writer, director and producer). What? What is that? Radio? It was a medium much closer to the essence of theatre than film or television. Pbbbbbt! How could that be? Pbbbbbt, if you're asking, you missed it!
Who could do the roles, today, that Welles did in some great and not so great films. Films like... “Touch Of Evil”, “The Third Man”, “Othello”, “Macbeth”, “The Black Rose”, “Moby Dick”, “The Lady From Shanghai”. When Welles was around, there were a number of actors with the power and aura and subtlety who could have handled his parts. Who today? Anthony Hopkins? Not really. Deniro, Pacino, Malkovich, Lewis, Bradley Pitt? The word “puny” comes to mind.
How small the cinema screen seems... today!