full title Citizen Kane

director Orson Welles

leading actor/actresses Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane

supporting actors/actresses George Coulouris, Ruth Warrick, Agnes Moorehead, Harry Shannon, William Alland, Ray Collins

type of work Full-length feature film

genre Drama

language  English

time and place produced 19401941, Hollywood

awards Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, New York Critics Award fo Best Picture

date of release  May 1, 1941

producer  Orson Welles

setting (time) Approximately 1860 to 1950

setting (place) America

protagonist  Charles Foster Kane

major conflict Kane tries to control press coverage of his political career and suppress his affair with Susan Alexander.

rising action Kane’s political rival, Jim “Boss” Gettys, forces a showdown between Kane, Kane’s wife, and Susan Alexander in an attempt to force Kane from the governor’s race.

climax  Kane chooses to stay with Susan and sends his wife away while daring Gettys to expose him by threatening impotently that he’ll make sure Gettys goes to prison.

falling action The papers are filled with the news of Kane’s “love nest,” and he loses the election.

themes The difficulty of interpreting a life; the myth of the American Dream; the unreliability of memory

motifs Isolation; old age; materialism

symbols Sleds; snow globe; statues


 · The snow globe. Also known as the glass ball, the snow globe first appears in the dying Welles’s hand at the beginning of the movie and foreshadows the later flashback to his abandonment as a child. Chronologically, it first makes its appearance in Kane’s life the night he meets Susan. The snow globe belongs to her and is sitting on her dressing table. We see it next when Susan leaves Kane and he destroys her room. After this episode, Kane is left only with the snow globe, which foreshadows his lonely death.
 · Rosebud, the sled. We don’t know its name when we see it at the scene of young Kane’s abandonment by his mother, but it foreshadows the film's final scene, when we finally learn the meaning of Kane's last word.
 · Crusader, the sled. Given to young Charles Kane by Thatcher, this sled foreshadows Charles’s later crusading work against Thatcher and his business enterprises.
 · Kane’s statement to Thatcher that if his paper lost $1 million a year he could still run it for sixty years. This cocky comment foreshadows Kane’s bankruptcy and the selling of his assets to Thatcher.
 · The scene in which Leland, in conversation with Bernstein, questions the new staff’s loyalty to Kane. Kane has just stolen them from the rival paper by offering them more money. Leland wonders if this is enough to make them loyal to Kane. Leland’s doubts foreshadow the departures of Leland and Susan from Kane's life.