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CITIZEN KANE

Director: ORSON WELLES

U.S.A. • 1941 • BLACK AND WHITE • 119 MIN


When Orson Welles stormed Hollywood with his Mercury Theatre company in tow, he was shrewd enough to bring his radio composer as well. Herrmann’s score for Kane is as innovative and groundbreaking as the film itself. As Welles takes us audaciously through various perspectives on a tycoon’s life and through the mysteries of personality, Herrmann provides a rich, varied orchestral accompaniment: a ‘Power’ motif on brass, the ‘Rosebud’ theme on vibraphone, evocations of can-can and ragtime to catch the excitement of Kane’s early venture into the newspaper business before the onset of egomania and disillusionment. Perhaps the two greatest ideas are the ‘Theme and Variations’ that accompanies Welles’s breakfast montage as he fast forwards through a disintegrating marriage; and the opera for Kane’s second wife, her shrill voice straining to make itself heard above Herrmann’s deliberately heavy orchestration.

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