Director: Orson Welles
Director of Photography: Gregg Toland
The skill is Orson Welles showing how talented and creative he can be, the insistence of showing just how talented he is, that is his ego at work. Take the scene where Kane (Welles) and Leland (Joseph Cotton) enter the Enquirer newspaper for the first time. The invention in this scene, a ceiling. There never was a ceiling in a movie until “Citizen Kane,” because nobody could then figure out how to record sound with one, the boom had to come from above if needed. He figured out how to hide tiny mikes in the ceiling, and other places in the office, and the compression of the scene must have been jaw-dropping for it’s first audiences, even if they weren’t exactly sure why. A later scene at that same newspaper, takes place after Kane has lot his bid for Governor, and him and Leland are having a conversation about the future. He shoots the entire scene, without a cut, but also from a very low ground level angle, in fact it’s below ground level (He built a trap door in the set for the camera to get that low-level shot), to underline just how low a point this is in Kane’s life. The ceiling really becomes showcased now, with this shot, but there’s no need for it to be shot from this extremely low angle. Is it just an aesthetic choice? Yes, but Welles knows how he’s reinventing the wheel, and he wants to let other know about it with a bang, and not a whisper. He does this throughout the movie. The large windows and statues that seem normal when character are in the foreground, but are comically large when they move into the background. The breakfast scene which shows a marriage deteriorated to the point that the table grows and the distance between the couple become longer and longer, and with so much stuff on it, that the table now resembles a coffin at a funeral. The window remaining in the same spot in the frame in the opening, even as the camera comes closer and closer to Kane’s home, Xanadu. These are but a handful of dozens, maybe hundreds of details Welles’s has layered upon “Citizen Kane,” and yet, you can watch this film, no study this film, dozens of times, and still not catch everything he’s doing. Welles was a genius who had the world on a string, and was young and cocky to pull and twist that string ‘til it broke.