Citizen Kane (1941)

I have always heard of Citizen Kane through TV and film classes.  Everybody called it an amazing epic film.  Even after watching clips, I have never seen what was so special about it.  But now that I have watched the whole film, I can definitely see what people were talking about.

The first question I want to try to answer is why this film was being compared to American baroque.  In class when we were talking about baroque paintings, I think some of the things that were mentioned were the diagonal look, lighting certain figures, and lots of fabric.  One of the few times I personally took notice in the diagonal look was when Kane was an old man in the wheelchair next to his outdoor pool and a statue of a woman was across of him.  It looked that way to me because Kane was screen left front and the statue was screen right back yet both of them stood out. I can’t explain it well but it showed in a way the important relationship between Kane and his statues.  Next, the whole film had many dark shadows but when talking about baroque and lighting certain figures, I took notice in the bar scene when the reporter is on the phone and Susan is at the table in the back (which is also a diagonal look).  Susan is lighted while the reporter is almost pitch black and though the reporter is in the foreground, I noticed Susan more because she was lighted better.  Lastly, the scene where Kane is at Susan’s apartment and they’re talking, we see them talk through a mirror that’s surround by jewelry and cloth which showed the fabric part of baroque because the mirror was centered by those objects.

The next thing to mention would be the use of deep focus.  Three deep focus scenes stood out to me; the first being at the company party, you see everyone at the long table and then later on, when the band and dancers are coming from the background to the foreground. Second is when we see Kane in the news room rewriting the opera critique and from waaay back we see Liebman walking fast towards Kane. Last is when Kane is walking in his mansion after his second wife left him and at one point, we see all these mirror images of him going really far back. Also it seems like any scene involving the hallways of the mansion were deep focus.

Something that definitely can’t be avoided was the use of shadows as a whole.  The extreme shadows that were in the TV news room in the beginning shadowed all the reporters in the room.  Maybe because the lights were supposed to be off because they were reviewing the documentary but the shadows also made the reporters seem sneaky.  And maybe they are because this continues throughout the whole film whenever Reporter Thompson is shown.  I thought at the end we were going to see his face just a little but he has remained hidden.  The film showed that shadows could make someone more intimidating.  That is shown when Susan and Kane are having an argument about singing and he looms over casting his shadow on her body.  It just makes him seem overpowering.

I don’t know if it is just me but there were times in the film when people looked frozen.  Like in the bar scene I spoke of earlier, Susan didn’t move or anything while the reporter was on the phone.  Next was when in the news room, an important man was talking to Kane and three journalists in background seem frozen, I was actually wondering if they were real or not.  Then there was the time when Mrs. Kane was talking to the Politician in Susan’s Apartment during that scandal and in the background Susan seemed to be frozen on top of Kane.

The make-up in the film is something to praise because the characters were able to look old without super special effects.  Though you could tell it was plastic and fake, it was pretty good for something back then.

The Lady Eve (1941)

I really liked The Lady Eve very much because it kind of shocked me and of how Jean reminded me of biblical Eve.  I’m not religious but I heard that Eve was the first of the pair to eat the bad apple because the snake told her to, then convinced Adam to do the same.  Jean who is the Eve-like character in this film is also mischievous in her own way and she also fooled the Adam-like character, Charles.

The biblical stuff starts when Jean was first shown eating an apple then she hits Charles with that apple. The next time is when snakes are mentioned in the film when we see Charles reading a book about snakes.  Then we learn that Jean is DEATHLY afraid of snakes while Charles loves them.  That is probably because in the bible Eve regrets later on listening to the snake and Adam never even met the snake so he has no reason to be afraid of them. Through various scenes, it’s shown that Jean is able to trick Charles many times which makes Charles gullible.  In the bible story Eve “tricks” Adam into eating the apple. Then lastly after all the things Jean puts him through, Charles still ends up with her like when Adam still ended up with Eve even though she’s the reason why they go kicked out of paradise.

As I mentioned before, the other reason why I liked this film was because it shocked me.  I didn’t think a film from 1941 would be so…sexual; especially with the female character being the sexual one.  Jean is really openly flirtatious while Charles is a square. This shows many times in the beginning when she talks to him it is so close ranged that they’re almost kissing.  Then she leads him to his or her room and that whole shoe scene is romantic.  Then she is definitely flirtatious when she was rubbing all over him in the chair, getting him all worked up and leaves him dry.  It is really hard to imagine when she wasn’t being that way.

There is one thing I didn’t like about this film and that was the representation of women.  In the beginning when all of the women are using little tricks to get Charles attention, it showed that women are kind of sneaky.  I think out of all of those women only one approach him directly. Then of course there is Jean who really makes women seem low.  She is mischievous in many ways.  It started out by tripping him to get him to talk to her and later on she pulls a big one by pretending to be another woman to just trick him into marrying her then hurt him.  Plus on top of that it is kind of hard to tell if she truly loves him because she is a professional scam artist.  I don’t know if we ever get to see the real her.  But for sure she is very selfish because she only does things for her entertainment.  I can’t say that I have seen her considered someone else’s feelings.

I can’t feel sorry for Charles though because he is a naïve, clumsy idiot who allowed those things to happen to him.