Scene Analysis: Citizen Kane: How to run a Newspaper

(This is a rather straight to the point post. Those looking for humor will be disappointed. We cannot give refunds).

Long shot (0:00-2:24) The shot begins with the newspaper boss taking up most of the right side of the frame, holding a newspaper that covers most of the rest. He throws it down violently, revealing a man in a chair. Being blasted for his rather controversial articles in the paper, the man spins around in the chair to face the Boss, revealing himself to be Charles Foster Kane, smiling and drinking a cup of what appears to be tea. The boss is closest to the frame, and the angle of the shot shows that he’s supposed to have more power over Kane since he appears higher over him.

Most of the shot is in sharp focus, with several men clearly seen working in the background.

Kane places down the cup and picks up the newspaper that the boss slammed on the table. Simultaneously with his action of picking it up the paper, his friend rushes into the room, followed by a slower paced fellow in a suit.

The friend comes next to Kane, and the man in the suit comes in front of them. The Boss is still closest to the frame. The Suited man bends over on the desk, with the camera panning slightly down. It follows him as he pulls away from the desk and rejoins Kane and his friend.

Kane tosses the paper while placing a pipe in his mouth, and his friend reads off from a message he received for Kane. As he responds to the message, he takes a match he lit and readies his pipe. He laughs softly as he looks into his displeased boss. The suited man and friend leave. Kane smokes his pipe as his boss continues to retaliate. The Boss walks off to the right, with the camera following him.

As the boss sits down, so does the camera. Kane discards the match. The camera from here on slowly crawls into their conversation with each of the two at equal level. As Kane continues to confront his boss, he gains more of the frame. As he discusses his the “side” of him that is “the publisher of The Inquirer,” the camera zooms in on his face, with his boss holding a small amount of the right frame.

His boss stands up, Kane following along closely along with the camera. The Boss moves back from the frame to the back of the room grabbing his coat and his hat. Kane follows him, with the camera. He then assists him in putting on his coat.

The men in the background happen to be looking at the two as they discuss. Kane and his Boss stand on opposite sides of the frame facing each other, indirectly divided by a coat hanger. His boss reminds Kane that his “empire” is costing him a million dollars a year.

Kane replies, “I did lose a million dollars last year and I expect to lose a million dollars this year, I expect to lose a million dollars next year! You know Mr. Thatcher at the rate of a million dollars a year…”

New shot, closing up on Kane. “…I’ll have to close this place in…sixty years.”

Kane has taken control of the situation, progressively earning more of the frame which, in this scene, seems to represent a “battlefield.” Needless to say, Kane won the battle.

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4 comments ↓

#1   Roberto Rodriguez on 10.08.11 at 11:54 am

this was a good scene analysis and I liked the way you described each shot of the scene in depth as well as the way you described the how the use of framing contributed to the scene aqs well.

#2   Daniel Min on 10.12.11 at 5:02 pm

Good Eye. This scene gives a good example how Orson Welles can keep his composure during this long take.

#3   Steven Rengifo on 10.13.11 at 8:17 pm

Take my comment as constructive criticism: The following scene that you analyzed was basically a DESCRIPTION of the scene… not really an “ANALYSIS”. Though the scene was excellent because we get to see Kane on a very happy and playful mood, how about analyzing the lighting, why is the camera being focused on Mr. Thatcher, Kane and the workers in the background? Why is it significant? Also ask your self questions about the character and how they are being played. Now I do agree with Daniel on how great Welles “can keep his composure during this long take”. After watching the film, its clear how well Welles can play this character so well. Tom… if you want to add on to this conversation, please do so, because it wasn’t like most of your others blog entries. I know it was rather straight to the point, but I know you can think critically about this scene more.

#4   Raaj Mangroo on 10.14.11 at 7:13 am

I have to agree with Steven. I think you spent more time on telling whats happened rather than talking about the actually talking about stylistic devices in the film. I love your humor by the way (im aware that does not pertain to the analysis but i enjoyes how you mentioned there would be no humor but got humoorous speaking about refunds).

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