21 Mar 2012

In the first flashback sequence of Citizen Kane (1941 d. Orson Welles), cinematographer Gregg Toland employs a multi-layered shot that can be analyzed differently depending on which ground of the frame upon which one wants to focus.  In the foreground, it is an example of a medium shot showing Mrs. Kane and Mr. Thatcher contracting Charles’s life.  The denotative meaning of the shot is one of information; the relational information about these characters is conveyed in this medium shots.  However, as Citizen Kane is a visually complex film, the connotative meaning of the shot is not one of related togetherness as is implied by some medium shots, but one of factions.  Mrs. Kane and Mr. Thatcher are acting together to remove Charles from Colorado.  This is further intensified by the boy’s presence in the extreme background of the shot.  When analyzed from this frame, the long shot creates distance and isolation.  Mrs. Kane’s alliance with Mr. Thatcher also isolates her from her husband occupying the middle ground in an American shot or middle long.  The deep focus cinematography employed by Toland lends visual and symbolic complexity to this shot, and the denotative meaning conveyed through the lens is significant because this is the inciting incident of the narrative.  Charles’s life is being entrusted to Thatcher and the bankers in the East.  After leaving his parents, Colorado, and “Rosebud,” the young boy develops into Charles Foster Kane and spends the rest of his life isolated and alone searching for the “rosebud” of his past. 

In the first flashback sequence of Citizen Kane (1941 d. Orson Welles), cinematographer Gregg Toland employs a multi-layered shot that can be analyzed differently depending on which ground of the frame upon which one wants to focus.  In the foreground, it is an example of a medium shot showing Mrs. Kane and Mr. Thatcher contracting Charles’s life.  The denotative meaning of the shot is one of information; the relational information about these characters is conveyed in this medium shots.  However, as Citizen Kane is a visually complex film, the connotative meaning of the shot is not one of related togetherness as is implied by some medium shots, but one of factions.  Mrs. Kane and Mr. Thatcher are acting together to remove Charles from Colorado.  This is further intensified by the boy’s presence in the extreme background of the shot.  When analyzed from this frame, the long shot creates distance and isolation.  Mrs. Kane’s alliance with Mr. Thatcher also isolates her from her husband occupying the middle ground in an American shot or middle long.  The deep focus cinematography employed by Toland lends visual and symbolic complexity to this shot, and the denotative meaning conveyed through the lens is significant because this is the inciting incident of the narrative.  Charles’s life is being entrusted to Thatcher and the bankers in the East.  After leaving his parents, Colorado, and “Rosebud,” the young boy develops into Charles Foster Kane and spends the rest of his life isolated and alone searching for the “rosebud” of his past.