Is Citizen Kane still the greatest film ever made?
Can a film that’s over seventy years old still hold up?
Written By: Andrew Lowe
Date: 31st May, 2015
Considering how old Citizen Kane is and how much filmmaking has evolved over the years, it does seem a little strange that this could still be called the greatest film ever made.
People involved in the film industry, not the general public, compile most of the lists that Citizen Kane tops. These people are generally looking at the way the film is made and the more technical aspects rather than whether it is an enjoyable film, although that can be sometimes a factor as well. Saying that any film is the greatest of all time is a very subjective statement. Everyone has their own way of determining what films they think are good.
What we need to remember is when Citizen Kane was released, no film had been as adventurous on its approach to filmmaking as it had been. The manner of how the story had been told, cinematography, acting, music & sound, the editing, virtually every way was done in either an experimental way or done to excessive detail.
But does the film stand up? I would say yes and no.
I consider myself a well-educated watcher of films; I tend to steer clear of most Hollywood blockbusters. I tend to prefer a well-told character based story that has the ability to engross me. I watched Citizen Kane when I was about 25, and I found that it was very interesting character story. The problem is not about the story it’s telling, it’s the look and way the film is shot.
Everything that was unique and original about the way Citizen Kane was made has become old hat and done to death. This can make people think what is so special about this film, but you have to remember what films were like at the time of release; you need context for the film when you watch it.
As much as I tried to bear all of that in mind, I still couldn’t help but think that it was overrated. It was good, but felt that it had been surpassed overtime. This isn’t the film’s fault; there has been a wealth of quality that has been produced in the last seventy years as well as more experimenting and improvement of technology.
These days you look at any greatest films list, you will always find Citizen Kane there. That’s because it is an exceptionally good film but it will not be on the top. These days it will generally be films like The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption and Star Wars.
Personally I don’t think any of the Star Wars films could ever been said to be the greatest film ever made, definitely influential and enjoyable, but they have too many problems. And I’m a big Star Wars fan.
The Godfather on the other hand, many would agree is a master class in filmmaking. The pacing, cinematography, acting and most importantly to me the story is all perfectly executed. It really does show how good Frances Ford Coppola was at filmmaking.
As for The Shawshank Redemption, I have never seen. Mainly because it is a film that I have looked into and to be honest have no real interest in the story or the film at all. Many people have said that I should watch it, and I’m sure they believe it to be good. Just not really anything I want to see.
These are considered the greatest films ever made these days, although it will be different according to who is running the poll. All polls are subjective. This is why many still consider the older films such as Citizen Kane to be leaps and bounds over modern films.