Citizen Kane – 1941 Welles
• Kane’s obsessive spending and collecting reveal that he is trying to fill an empty space inside
himself with objects instead of people
• Anything we learn about him is from a memory of somebody else, not very reliable
• Welles based the character of Kane on publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst and
other powerful men of his time, but Welles certainly based the character on himself as well
• The parallels between Kane and Welles helped Welles give a remarkable performance.
Welles didn’t just act the part of Kane: in many ways, Welles was Kane.
• Worked as partners on their newspaper, but questions Kane’s morality about the way he
runs his business and eventually asks to be transferred to another location in chicago
• When Kane’s staff celebrates the fact that Kane has stolen the entire editorial staff of their
rival newspaper, Leland, for the first time, openly questions whether the end justifies the
means and whether loyalty can be bought.
• Kane the “Declaration of Principles” Kane signed so many years ago. The gesture is a
rebuke, but it is also a way of suggesting it’s not too late for Kane to change. Kane tears it
up, effectively slicing Leland out of his life forever.
Susan Alexandre Kane
• Susan, usually screechy and overbearing, here seems soft-spoken, gentle, and naïve
because of her toothache, and Kane’s helpless predicament makes her laugh
• Kane’s attempts to completely control her almost rob her of her identity, and the only way
she can save herself is to leave him.
• The difficulty of interpreting a life
o After watching Kane’s biography the biographer wants to know what drives
o Kane’s life story unfolds in layers through the reporter Thompson's investigation and
is told by a succession of people who were close to him. These various points of
view are imbued with people’s particular prejudices, and the recollections are
ultimately ambiguous and unreliable.
o Only Thatcher would have had the chance to fully understand Kane, but he was too
concerned with making money to have any compassion for a lonely child.
• The Myth of the American Dream
o When Thatcher removes Kane from this place, he’s given what seems like the
American dream—financial affluence and material luxury. However, Kane finds that those things don’t make him happy, and the exchange of emotional security for
financial security is ultimately unfulfilling
o As an adult, Kane uses his money and power not to build his own happiness but to