drama DVD and movie reviews and previews from curledupdvd.com - curled up with a good dvd
drama DVD reviews and previews from curledupdvd.com - curled up with a good dvd
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Citizen Kane - drama DVD review
Citizen Kane Not Rated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 5 stars
Actors: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead, Ruth Warrick, Ray Collins
Director: Orson Welles   Studio: Turner Home Ent.
DVD release: 25 Sept. 2001   Runtime: 119 minutes (2 discs)
Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
DVD features: Subtitles (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese), Audio tracks (English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Commentary by Peter Bogdanovich & Roger Ebert, 1941 movie premiere newsreel, Gallery of memorabilia, "The Battle Over Citizen Kane" (2-hr. documentary)

If you've never seen Citizen Kane, you're missing out on a cinematic masterpiece. For years it was one of those movies that I'd always meant to see. When I finally saw it on VHS, I was amazed; I didn't know old movies could be so well made. So much thought is put into every shot - the composition is amazing. Gregg Toland (Welles' cinematographer) used deep focus (where objects from foreground to background are all in clear focus) in a great number of shots to show vast emotional space between characters. Actors would be shot in shadow or near darkness (unheard of at the time and pretty much since). Every shot is like a fine photograph.

Citizen Kane is not only a technical wonder to behold, its story is a wonder as well. Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles earned an Oscar for their original screenplay, which is not-so-loosely based on the life of publishing giant William Randolph Hearst; plenty of juicy tidbits there for 1941 audiences to latch onto. Perhaps not known at the time is what "Rosebud" meant to Hearst (it was reputedly a nickname for his mistress Marion Davies' intimate fleshy bits). How that must have cheesed Hearst off!

The DVD presentation is splendid on this two-disc set. The first disc has the feature, with beautifully remastered picture and sound in its original theatrical aspect ratio (1.33:1). Extra features include Roger Ebert and Peter Bogdanovich commentary, storyboards, production notes, theatrical trailers and a few Easter eggs. Ebert's commentary is quite appreciated. He's an aficionado of this fine film and has hosted shot-by-shot dissection of the film. An audience shut in a room watches the film until someone, anyone in the audience shouts "stop", at which point the particular scene is analyzed to exhaustion.

The second disc is the 1996 documentary "The American Experience: The Battle Over Citizen Kane." This feature details the trials and tribulations that went into the production of the film and is worth the cost of admission alone - and a brilliant companion piece to the film itself.

I can't imagine a better presentation for Citizen Kane as far as the on-disc features go, however the case could use some work. For some reason, the studios believe that paper-based cases for their more anticipated releases is a good thing. When these cases get a little "loved", they start to show wear and fall apart, and that breaks this film-lover's heart. The usual run-of-the-mill keep case (the kind AOL has been sending you those damn discs in lately) would be much better for this film, perhaps in a special color or texture if they want to get fancy. It would hold up much better to repeated viewings and perhaps the occasional bed-time snuggle.
reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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