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The most famous debut in film history and long regarded as the greatest film ever made, Orson Welles' legendary chronicle of the rise and fall of a Hearst-like newspaper magnate retains its power to enthrall, confound and overwhelm.
"Everything that matters in cinema since 1940 has been influenced by Citizen Kane" (François Truffaut). Despite its newfound humility after being bested by Hitchcock's Vertigo and demoted to #2 in the Sight & Sound poll, it is still impossible to extricate Citizen Kane from its vaunted reputation as the most impressive directorial debut, the most influential film, the greatest movie — period — in the history of cinema. Welles' masterpiece withstands, demands, rewards repeated screenings and detailed analysis, especially when presented on the big screen. Propelled by an anguished deathbed whisper of one mysterious word, "Rosebud," Citizen Kane's complex series of interlocking and overlapping flashbacks, newsreels, and reminiscences chronicles the rise of a ruthless newspaper tycoon (modelled on William Randolph Hearst and played by an orotund Welles) whose power is won at the cost of his growing, then total, isolation in a grotesque mansion called Xanadu. "It is still the best place I know of to start thinking about Welles — or for that matter about movies in general" (Dave Kehr).