Citizen Kane

Synopsis: When a reporter is assigned to decipher newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane's (Orson Welles) dying words, his investigation gradually reveals the fascinating portrait of a complex man who rose from obscurity to staggering heights. Though Kane's friend and colleague Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten), and his mistress, Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore), shed fragments of light on Kane's life, the reporter fears he may never penetrate the mystery of the elusive man's final word, "Rosebud."
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Director(s): Orson Welles
Production: RKO Radio Pictures
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 13 nominations.
 
IMDB:
8.4
Metacritic:
100
Rotten Tomatoes:
100%
PG
Year:
1941
119 min
854,018 Views


FADE IN:

EXT. XANADU - FAINT DAWN - 1940 (MINIATURE)

Window, very small in the distance, illuminated.

All around this is an almost totally black screen. Now, as

the camera moves slowly towards the window which is almost a

postage stamp in the frame, other forms appear; barbed wire,

cyclone fencing, and now, looming up against an early morning

sky, enormous iron grille work. Camera travels up what is now

shown to be a gateway of gigantic proportions and holds on the

top of it - a huge initial "K" showing darker and darker against

the dawn sky. Through this and beyond we see the fairy-tale

mountaintop of Xanadu, the great castle a sillhouette as its

summit, the little window a distant accent in the darkness.

DISSOLVE:

A SERIES OF SET -UPS, EACH CLOSER TO THE GREAT WINDOW, ALL

TELLING SOMETHING OF:

The literally incredible domain of CHARLES FOSTER KANE.

Its right flank resting for nearly forty miles on the Gulf

Coast, it truly extends in all directions farther than the eye

can see. Designed by nature to be almost completely bare and

flat - it was, as will develop, practically all marshland when

Kane acquired and changed its face - it is now pleasantly

uneven, with its fair share of rolling hills and one very good-

sized mountain, all man-made. Almost all the land is improved,

either through cultivation for farming purposes of through

careful landscaping, in the shape of parks and lakes. The

castle dominates itself, an enormous pile, compounded of several

genuine castles, of European origin, of varying architecture -

dominates the scene, from the very peak of the mountain.

DISSOLVE:

GOLF LINKS (MINIATURE)

Past which we move. The greens are straggly and overgrown,

the fairways wild with tropical weeds, the links unused and

not seriously tended for a long time.

DISSOLVE OUT:

DISSOLVE IN:

WHAT WAS ONCE A GOOD-SIZED ZOO (MINIATURE)

Of the Hagenbeck type. All that now remains, with one

exception, are the individual plots, surrounded by moats, on

which the animals are kept, free and yet safe from each other

and the landscape at large. (Signs on several of the plots

indicate that here there were once tigers, lions, girrafes.)

DISSOLVE:

THE MONKEY TERRACE (MINIATURE)

In the foreground, a great obscene ape is outlined against the

dawn murk. He is scratching himself slowly, thoughtfully,

looking out across the estates of Charles Foster Kane, to the

distant light glowing in the castle on the hill.

DISSOLVE:

THE ALLIGATOR PIT (MINIATURE)

The idiot pile of sleepy dragons. Reflected in the muddy water -

the lighted window.

THE LAGOON (MINIATURE)

The boat landing sags. An old newspaper floats on the surface

of the water - a copy of the New York Enquirer." As it moves

across the frame, it discloses again the reflection of the

window in the castle, closer than before.

THE GREAT SWIMMING POOL (MINIATURE)

It is empty. A newspaper blows across the cracked floor of

the tank.

DISSOLVE:

THE COTTAGES (MINIATURE)

In the shadows, literally the shadows, of the castle. As we

move by, we see that their doors and windows are boarded up

and locked, with heavy bars as further protection and sealing.

DISSOLVE OUT:

DISSOLVE IN:

A DRAWBRIDGE (MINIATURE)

Over a wide moat, now stagnant and choked with weeds. We move

across it and through a huge solid gateway into a formal garden,

perhaps thirty yards wide and one hundred yards deep, which

extends right up to the very wall of the castle. The

landscaping surrounding it has been sloppy and causal for a

long time, but this particular garden has been kept up in

perfect shape. As the camera makes its way through it, towards

the lighted window of the castle, there are revealed rare and

exotic blooms of all kinds. The dominating note is one of

almost exaggerated tropical lushness, hanging limp and

despairing. Moss, moss, moss. Ankor Wat, the night the last

King died.

DISSOLVE:

THE WINDOW (MINIATURE)

Camera moves in until the frame of the window fills the frame

of the screen. Suddenly, the light within goes out. This

stops the action of the camera and cuts the music which has

been accompanying the sequence. In the glass panes of the

window, we see reflected the ripe, dreary landscape of Mr.

Kane's estate behind and the dawn sky.

Rate this script:2.5 / 6 votes

Herman J. Mankiewicz

Herman Jacob Mankiewicz was an American screenwriter, who, with Orson Welles, wrote the screenplay for Citizen Kane. Earlier, he was the Berlin correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and the drama critic for The New York Times and The New Yorker. more…

All Herman J. Mankiewicz scripts | Herman J. Mankiewicz Scripts

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