This is not my first time seeing or writing about this film but I definitely see different things in the film each time I watch it. I was especially interested in seeing “The Battle for Citizen Kane”, a film I had not heard of. It was especially revealing of the life of Wells and how his life related to that of the Kane character and even Hurst.
I did not see the film as an insult to Hurst though I´m sure the man himself would know better than I would. I always end up feeing fairly sorry for Kane, a man full of motivation – who knows what he wants and is especially destroyed by some ruder complications of life; Rejection, love and massive amounts of money. His innocent intentions turn into something much different over time and things somehow jump into the future and it´s too late – no one saw it coming.
The technical aspects of the film are always impressive to me. Something about the style of the film, possible the low angles, reminds me of elements in “M”. One scene in particular, brought up in the documentary as well, was at a party at the newspaper office. There are girls dancing in the background with a strange light shone on them while in the foreground Kane´s friends are talking. The deep focus draws your eyes to Kane dancing with the girls while you can listen and see with your perriferals the men in the foreground. When Kane throws his jacket at them, like a 3D movie, your eyes are again pulled to the foreground just long enough to remember the men are there – more so, you are getting to know Kane´s character better. He´s a fun loving modern guy who is not crass nor egomaniacal – though at the same time celebrating his own accomplishments.
Throughout the film the camera angles make you feel particular things and as the chapter that mentions the film says, a lower angle does not always mean the character has power. It can also show instability, vulnerability – a man about to topple.
The documentary definitely revealed things about Wells and Hurst that were in fairly equal portions. Young highly motivated men running quickly towards success and finding it quite easily. Wells personal issues with his own childhood revealed in the childhood and hangups of Kane, a man raised by a banker, made Kane a character with a hole the size of Xanadu. This is not a characteristic of all people with childhood trauma but everyone deals in different ways. Kane having no affection for the majority of his childhood – and like Wells, maybe only verbal motivation from others, gave him issues with closeness to others and could quite possibly cause the depression Kane seemed to suffer later in life.
The only reason I can think that the film would choose to portray Susan Alexander as talentless was maybe to emphasize the joke the career of Marion became as Hurst shoved her shows down the public´s throat. Hurst may have tried to make up for his inability to love by giving gifts and smothering with public attention and his own power – that is how it seemed when Kane did the same to Susan. When Susan said “you never gave me nothin that ever really mattered to ya (or close to that)”, It made me really think about what he had given her and what it really meant. Was it all just stuff and unearned public attention – a way to buy her love? or did he giver her things because he loved her. Same goes for the flashback where he lost his political campaign – he wants the public to love him and on his terms but he has nothing to return. If these are personal characteristics of Wells I think it a key reason the film did so incredibly well (eventually). Everyone wants a character with great weaknesses they can relate to or be fascinated by and Kane had exactly that.