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 beginning of the intro I wrote for Fandor

Recently, Citizen Kane turned 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."

Continue reading on Fandor (though their video link doesn't work)



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Citizen Kane at 75: a new video essay series


Today, for the 75th anniversary of Citizen Kane, I am announcing Mirrors of Kane. This brand new video series is my first since Journey Through Twin Peaks concluded a year and a half ago. The first chapter, which should appear in the next few weeks, will debut on Fandor Keyframe, while the rest will be hosted on my personal YouTube/Vimeo channels. The series will be structured around the five "narrators" of the film, who inspire its flashback structure: Walter Parks Thatcher, Mr. Bernstein, Jedediah Leland, Susan Alexander Kane, and Raymond the butler. It's based on an essay I wrote in 2011 but will also expand the scope of the analysis by, in the final chapter, digging into the structure of the film including its striking efficiency as a "ring composition" (written about by Mike Klimo with regards to the Star Wars saga). It will also incorporate criticism of the film that I do and don't agree with - I'm really looking forward to engaging with this material visually, something I've already begun with the first chapter which is finished and awaiting its premiere on Fandor.

Citizen Kane at 75 (trailer)


And of course, I've also created the above trailer, which is available on YouTube and Vimeo. If you like it, please share - your word of mouth will be the main way people discover this series and join the conversation. Most importantly, I want to highlight the human pulse of Citizen Kane, a film that is too often celebrated as a purely technical achievement. As such, it can seem intimidating and/or alienating to many viewers, something to admire from a distance rather than invest themselves in emotionally. As a narrative analysis, these videos will pay attention to the subtle ways character, camera, and cutting intertwine to tell a series of "short stories" about Kane (and also about the storytellers themselves) which coalesce to form a rich, intricate tapestry.

Here is a full schedule for the series; the dates will depend on when Fandor uploads chapter one, but you can expect all of the videos within the next two months (based on runtime, I might combine chapters two and three into one video; likewise with chapters five and six). I will update this page with links and embedded videos as they appear.

CHAPTER ONE on YouTube  Vimeo
"Meeting Kane" (introduction)



CHAPTER TWO on Lost in the Movies YouTube  Vimeo
Walter Parks Thatcher

CHAPTER THREE on Lost in the Movies YouTube/Vimeo
Mr. Bernstein

CHAPTER FOUR on Lost in the Movies YouTube/Vimeo
Jedediah Leland

CHAPTER FIVE on Lost in the Movies YouTube/Vimeo
Susan Alexander Kane

CHAPTER SIX on Lost in the Movies YouTube/Vimeo
Raymond, the butler (& framing devices)

CHAPTER SEVEN on Lost in the Movies YouTube/Vimeo
Conclusions (including analysis of structure and the "big picture" of the film)


Vimeo embeds:

TRAILER


CHAPTER ONE - "Meeting Kane"