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Film Analysis #1

Citizen Kane Scene Analysis

Time Length of Scene: 00:17:18 – 00:18:54 ( 00:01:36)

Amount of Shots in Scene:  4


Shot 1 – 00:17:18 – 00:17:52

Frame: ES to Long Shot

Placement of Camera: Low Angle to Straight On

Visual: Big Statue of Thatcher

Lighting: Nuetral, there isn’t too much shadow or light on anything.

Camera Movement: The camera moves from the statue to the main characters of the scene (tilt down); zooms at the ending of the shot

Duration: Long Take

Sound: Music as Thatcher’s statue is shown; reverb on everyone’s voice

Transitions: Dissolve


Shot 2 –  00:17:52 – 00:18:34

Frame: LS

Placement of Camera: Straight On

Visual: A big safe, table engulfed in a beam of light from glass on the ceiling, only one chair

Lighting: Low Key

Camera Movement: Dolly in with the characters as they move. As they stop, it stops

Duration: Long Take

Sound: Sound the safe makes as it closes; as door closes there’s a sound that creates the feeling of some eerie going on

Transitions: Dissolve


Shot 3 – 00:18:34 – 00:18:40

Frame: LS

Placement of Camera: Straight On

Visual: One chair, one table, one man; the papers Thompson is reading

Lighting: Low Key

Camera Movement: Dolly in on Thompson. The camera moves in to over-the-shoulder

Duration: Short Take

Sound: A suspenseful flute

Transitions: Dissolve

Shot 4 – 00:18:40  –  00:18:54

Frame: Close up on the book

Camera Placement: Straight On

Visual: Words in the book

Lighting: Seems to be High-Key. The book appears to have clear visibility and is easily read.

Camera Movement:  The camera moves from left to right as the words are revealed on the screen

Duration: Long Take

Sound: A flute plays, later turns into music that brings memories

Transitions: Dissolve



This scene uses a lot of low key lighting, perhaps to signify Charles’ impending descent into madness. Dissolving shots in this scene are also a good choice for transitions between shots. The story has plays really well with time, and the use of dissolving shots helps signify which events are linked together in time. The use of reverb in this scene is well picked. The story is put together by Mr. Thompson, who wants to learn of Charles Foster Kane’s history. The use of reverb can symbolize that there is a narrator behind all the images that appear on the screen. The narrator (Mr. Thompson) is not however an omniscient narrator because as the ending of the movie shows, he does not figure out the meaning of the word Rosebud. The reverb in library scene signifies to me that knowledge cannot grant omnipotence because of the nature of reverb.

This scene signifies that Mr. Thompson will not be able to learn everything about Charles Kane. The placement of the camera on Thatcher’s statue in the first shot overpower the other two characters in the shot. Thompson wants to learn of Kane’s history, but will not be able to fully understand his life through second hand sources. The dollying in on the book in shot 3 with the over-the-shoulder approach was the best technique to be used for that shot. It shows that Thompson is starting to read and trying to understand Kane’s life, but the music that plays in the background creates the feeling that he might not know all of it.

The dollying of the camera proved to be an effective technique in creating suspense and making the audience ask questions as to what will happen next and what won’t. The lighting in this scene was well done and the shots were put together in a masteful way to create the picture that Thompson is really trying to find out why Kane was who he was. The low key lighting in the shots symbolize his struggle to attempt to learn something, while the High Key lighting on the book itself and the dollying in on it shows that he is close to his answers. The reverb of the people’s voices in the library signify that he cannot achieve omnipotence and know exactly why Kane ended up being a mad man, because not all of the information was in the library.



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~ by Pawel Forfa on October 17, 2011.

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