I was watching an episode of The Sopranos recently (not a new one, maybe from last season?) and Tony’s wife Carmella has gathered all her friends for their “movie night”- all these New Jersey overpriviledged (Mafia) housewives sit in their home theater and try to “appreciate film.”They movie they pick to watch together is Citizen Kane; they have picked it off the AFI Top 100 Movies List. So, they watch it… the lights come up and they nod appreciatively. Actually they didn’t get it, but feel like they should have. I think that’s really sad; I just feel sorry for them. They feel like they should be “appreciating” this classic movie, but have no idea why. They don’t know who Orson Welles is, or perhaps more importantly, who William Randolph Hearst was. They don’t know anything about the “language of film” that is used to create mood and tell a story outside the dialogue. They have just wasted one hour and fifty nine minutes of their lives. But, Carm, it need not be this way! Citizen Kane actually is a very interesting movie- much more so if you know what you are looking at. Fortunately, many many people have come before you and written quite a bit of analysis of Citizen Kane and pretty much any other movie that has ever been shot.
One such article: Roger Ebert’s Viewer’s Guide to Citizen Kane. In general Mr Ebert is not one of my favorites; I think he is very mainstream and makes a conscious effort to ignore movies not made by his evil corporate masters. Nevertheless, this article is a good start.