A Comparison Of Framing, Light


The folowing essay is a comparison of the films Citizen Kane
(1941) dircted by Orson Welles and Josef Von Sternberg's The Scarlet
Empress. (1934) Specifically it will concentrate on how the two directors
use set design, framing and lighting to comment upon the psychology of their principle characters.
Welles' Citizen Kane tells the story of an aging press tycoon and
would-be politician Charles Foster Kane. A man whose arrogance alienates
him from everyone who loves him, leaving him to die alone inside the vast Gothic castle of a home that he builds for himself in Florida. The film is highly regarded for its filming techniques, including aspects of set design, framing and lighting. Von ...

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and their respective films as a whole. The story of Charles Foster Kane unravels in a series of flashbacks told to a reporter by the people who knew him. In the film's fourth flashback, Kane's second wife, Susan, recounts her life with Kane to the reporter, Thompson. The viewer has learned earlier in the film that Kane has failed as a publisher, politician and as a husband to his first wife Emily. Kane puts all his hopes and aspirations into promoting Susan's opera carreer. The untalented Susan fails miserably and attempts suicide. The following sequence occurs after Kane tells Susan she can quit singing:
A dark and gloomy night-shot of Kane's estate, Xanadu, fades in with a mansion high on a hill. The shot dissolves to a closer, but equally dreary, exterior of the mansion. Both shots are accompanied by eerie brass music building to a slow haunting crescendo. The mansion dissolves into a close-up of Susan's face and hand over a jigsaw puzzle.
"What are you doing?" Kanes voice ...

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as Kane stops beside Susan seated in front of the fireplace. Susan's voice takes on a sarcastic then pleading tone as she tells Kane she is bored, then begs him for a trip to New York to have some fun. Kane walks to the fire place, turns to face outward in a stance of stolid resolve.
"Our home is here Susan. I don't care to visit New York."
This sequence is highly symbolic and significant to the film's narrative. The exterior establishing shot is dark and gloomy. Welles creates an almost haunted house effect. This is Kanes home. It reflects Kanes own dark and sombre mood at this point in the film. Kane has failed miserably at all attempts to bring happines to his life. ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 8/27/2007 12:13:41 PM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1711
Pages: 7

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