Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons, Watch Citizen Kane

When I woke up the morning of my birthday (Sunday) in Peoria, I wasn't sure I was going to make it home that night.  As I detailed in this post, the weather was pretty nasty.

J had texted me that morning to tell me that he would be making dinner for me for my birthday and wanted to know what time I would be home.  I took a look at the almost white out conditions outside, the IDOT graphic full of angry red squiggly lines for interstates and thought to myself, I might be spending all of my birthday here in Peoria.

While we waited for the weather to either improve or get worse, which would help me determine whether I would be venturing home or staying the night, my grandparents, aunt and I watched Citizen Kane.  At my birthday dinner on Saturday night, I mentioned that one things on my 130 Before I'm Thirty list was to watch Citizen Kane (part one of two for goal number 124 to be exact) and as fate would have it, they had recorded it a few days prior when it was on Turner Classic Movies.  So, when the opportunity came up to ride out the storm with a movie, they all suggested we watch it!

Borrowed from here
We drank bloody Mary's and bundled up on the couch and watched what was voted by many as the greatest American movie of all time.  My initial reaction was that it didn't quite live up to the hype.  Some of the camera angles that were no doubt revolutionary at the time seemed a bit odd today.  One scene involved the camera peering up at a character from almost the feet of the other character who were engaged in a conversation together.

After the movie ended, my aunt and I sat down and pondered it some more.  We reached the conclusion that our initial lukewarm reaction could be explained by the fact that we were modern viewers with little knowledge of film history.  When you compare Citizen Kane with let's say Gone With the Wind, a movie that came out two years before, you begin to see why this movie was so revolutionary.  From the pace and structure of the storyline to the angles of the cameras and the set design, the film was clearly a break from its peers of the day.

The themes it introduces are timeless as well and feature such ideas as: Money doesn't buy happiness and you can never know someone unless you walk a mile in their shoes.  These probably sound a bit stale and cliche now (think of how many movies have come out between 1941 and now!) but at the time they were probably much more fresh and interesting!

In reading up about the movie on Wikipedia, I also realized how many pop culture references I had missed over the years because I had never seen the movie.  Like Rosebud's appearance in Indiana Jones (and The Simpsons).  So, I definitely recommend the movie to anyone who hasn't seen it.  It's a great little history of film lesson and for me, another goal to check off my list!

Anyone out there seen the film and want to compare notes?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the film!

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