“Citizen Kane” A Film Critic’s Inspiration

Citizen Kane Movie Poster

Michael Wilmington was only twelve when he first watched “Citizen Kane”, the RKO classic film made by Orson Welles in 1941.  It is the film that inspired Michael to be a film critic, and from the moment he saw those great deep focus shots by Gregg Toland, he states, “it ravished me, it always does.”

Over the years Michael wrote how he has “seen the film over 60 times and never been bored for an instant.”

“From its opening moments it keeps you in a captivated grip. Those ominous opening chords by composer Bernard Herrmann; the German expressionist nightmare episode of Kane’s death and his mysterious dying word, “Rosebud”; the “March of Time”-style newsreel of his life; the frenetic backstage glimpse of the newsreel makers and reporters deciding on a follow-up story on the meaning of “Rosebud.” – Chicago Tribune – “What’s so Great About Citizen Kane” by Michael Wilmington, July 2005

Film criticism first appeared in newspapers and magazines in he beginning of the 20th century. Although Michael was only twelve-years-old when he first saw “Citizen Kane”, it remained number one on British Film Institute’s (BFI) Sight and Sound’s list of the Greatest Movies of All Time for forty years, only to be replaced by “Vertigo” in 2012 when “Citizen Kane” slipped to number two.

Since 1952 BFI has conducted a decennial poll of the Greatest Films of All Time. At that time there were 145 critics polled, then as years passed, the pool of BFI critics increased to 846 and in 2022 BFI sent out ballots to 1,639 critics to compose a list of the top 250 Greatest Films of All Time where “Citizen Kane” still holds a spot. Orson’s masterpiece remains on the BFI list today, but “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” is in the top spot this year.

The American Film Institute (AFI) also held “Citizen Kane” as one of the Greatest Movies of All Time.

It is interesting to note that while Orson Welles himself did like his groundbreaking film, he seemed to disagree that “Citizen Kane” was the greatest film of all time when he was interviewed on The Dick Cavett Show in 1970 saying , “my next one is though.”

Also where Orson Wells was born in Kenosha in 1915 and Michael Wilmington was born in Elkhorn in 1946, both men shared Wisconsin as their place of birth.

Watch the trailer on “Citizen Kane” here!