Favorite film stills: Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane is the movie I’ve probably watched more than any other except Star Wars, and that’s only because when I was young we had cable television and it was on two or three times a week. But Citizen Kane is the movie that, as an adult, repays constant viewing. I always see some subtly-placed detail I’d never noticed before, from that murky opening scene with the spooky camera work around Xanadu to the balcony shot with Hitler.

"first support, then denounce"

That’s some proto-Zelig kind of stuff, too, because it really looks like Hitler. I don’t know much about the technical end of movie-making, or how things were done back in 1942, but almost seventy years on it’s still pretty convincing. And did I mention it was 1942? With all the knowledge we have of who Hitler was, what his actual aims were and how indescribably awful the Nazis turned out to be – stuff nobody knew back then except those caught up in its whirlwind, and for whom there was little hope at that point – the still is quite ominous. I’m not going to get schmaltzy and say the film sounds a “prophetic” note, but it sends a chill up my spine every time I watch it.

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