Citizen Kane, 1941.
Directed by Orson Welles.
Starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Ray Collins, George Coulouris and Agnes Moorehead.
Warner Bros. is celebrating Citizen Kane‘s 75th anniversary with a Blu-ray that’s the same one included in the previous 70th anniversary set. However, the DVDs with the Battle Over Citizen Kane and RKO 281 supplements aren’t included, nor are the print materials. The bonus features on the Blu-ray are worthwhile, though, making this a great introduction for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie.
My high school offered an elective class that featured one of the English teachers showing great movies and talking about them from an academic point-of-view. He insisted on showing them all on a projector (he explained aspect ratios and why you lost most of the picture on home video back then) and gave his students a chance to see many classics, including works by Kurosawa, Chaplin, Bergman, and many others.
And, of course, Citizen Kane. Is it the greatest movie of all time? One of the greatest? As film critic Roger Ebert notes in one of the bonus features on this new 75th anniversary Blu-ray, such questions are silly, since film fans’ favorites tend to change. But at a minimum, it’s of course a classic, and if you haven’t seen it yet, this release is a good excuse to drop a few bucks on a crash course on one of the greatest movies ever made.
There was a 70th anniversary edition released five years ago, and this one includes just the Blu-ray from that set. Unfortunately, the DVDs with the Oscar-nominated documentary The Battle Over Citizen Kane and the HBO dramatization based in part on that documentary, RKO 281, aren’t included, nor are the print materials.
If you have the two-disc DVD set that was put out 15 years ago, which has the documentary, you’ll want to hold onto it if you pick up this new one. It’s actually a worthwhile purchase because while it replicates the bonus features from that DVD set, it features a stellar restoration of the movie, so that alone is worth the upgrade price.
The bonus features on this disc lead off with commentary tracks by Ebert and Peter Bogdanovich, who was a long-time friend of Orson Welles. Ebert’s commentary is enthusiastic and enjoyable to listen to, with a rapid-fire pace that delves into technical details (how the camera move through the sign was done, for example), trivia bits (an impressive statue that was just a papier-mâché model), thematic elements, and much more.
Bogdanovich’s commentary is much more subdued. He often lapses into silence, and sometimes he simply tells us what we’re seeing onscreen and marvels at Welles’ abilities, which is annoying. However, given his personal relationship with Welles, he does have some interesting information to impart, if you have time to sit through the entire thing.
The other bonus materials include a one-minute newsreel about the film’s premiere, interviews with actress Ruth Warrick and editor Robert Wise, the theatrical trailer, and two sections with various materials:
- Production includes storyboards, call sheets, and behind-the-scenes photos. Ebert offers commentary over the photos.
- Post-Production features a look at a deleted scene through still photos (the footage is long gone) along with glimpses at materials for the ad campaign, press book, and opening night premiere.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★