Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Mirrors of Kane: Citizen Kane video series, chapter 1: "Meeting Kane" (Introductions)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Mirrors of Kane: Citizen Kane video series, chapter 1: "Meeting Kane" (Introductions)


Earlier in the month, on Orson Welles' 101st birthday, Fandor Keyframe posted "Meeting Kane", the first chapter in my Mirrors of Kane video essay series. (update: Fandor has since made this video private and I have re-located it to my personal channel - see below.) "Meeting Kane" is available on both Vimeo and YouTube (where it has joined a new Mirrors of Kane playlist to keep track of the series). Both are embedded below.


Here is the intro I wrote for Fandor
MIRRORS OF KANE
CHAPTER ONE: MEETING KANE

Today, CITIZEN KANE turns seventy-five. That's five years older than writer/director/star Orson Welles when he passed away, and roughly three years younger than Charles Foster Kane himself when he whispered his final "Rosebud". Like those septuagenarians, the film remains celebrated, but - also like them - it may be misunderstood. The "greatest film of all time" is placed on a lofty pedestal that commands distanced respect and resentment, rather than affection. Even its greatest admirers often emphasize the film's technical achievements and immense influence over any emotional resonance. Most infamously, KANE has been called "a shallow masterpiece" (Pauline Kael) and "a labyrinth without a center" (Jorge Luis Borges) - and much discussion surrounding the movie, however admiring, tends to concur with that judgment.

MIRRORS OF KANE, my first multi-part video series since JOURNEY THROUGH TWIN PEAKS, serves two, related purposes. First, the following chapters will focus in turn on each of the film's five "narrators", the characters who trigger the film's flashback structure. Often dismissed as convenient storytelling devices, these characters actually reveal as much about themselves as Kane. These revelations are both dramatic and stylistic, lending each section of the movie a distinct flavor. Second, using these individuals as touchstones, this series will emphasize the power of the film's relationships, between characters and also between different parts of the film (including CITIZEN KANE's quasi-"ring" composition in which the second half mirrors and reverses the first). Throughout this exploration I will engage with the work of critics with whom I mostly align (Laura Mulvey) and respectfully diverge (Roger Ebert), assembling a chorus of voices as diverse as the film's own.

"Chapter One: Meeting Kane" serves as a concise, playful, and personal introduction to this mission. I pose questions that will be addressed in upcoming chapters, challenge the "cold"/"shallow"/"purely technical" interpretation of the film, and recall my own excited initiation into CITIZEN KANE's world (including its bizarro-world similiarity to Frank Capra's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE). This kicks off not only a series of video essays, with new entries to appear regularly over the next few months, but also, hopefully, a conversation. Where does YOUR view of Citizen Kane fall? How did YOU first discover the movie? What have YOU noticed on repeat viewings? With its panoply of conflicting points of view, maverick approach to filmmaking, and skeptical take on elite institutions, CITIZEN KANE remains a democratic masterpiece, a fact worth celebrating off and onscreen. To take part, visit me on YouTube, Vimeo, or my site Lost in the Movies, where I will be linking to new entries throughout May and June.

To be continued...



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