Narrative Structure in Citizen Kane

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In Welles’ Citizen Kane the narrative structure shapes the viewers understanding of the film with the camera angles, framing, and lighting. Welles carefully chooses each aspect of the film to show the audience what to feel. The narrative structure in Citizen Kane “shows how our lives, after we are gone, survive only in the memories of others, and those memories butt up against the walls we erect and the roles we play.” (Ebert) By having Thomson interrogate Kane’s life through other people, the audience gets to know Kane through the opinions of others. By seeing different opinions of Kane through the eyes of others, the audience is able to better understand Kane’s motivation and drive. Also, Kane’s last word “Rosebud”, the centerpiece of the story, suggests Charles Kane lived an unfulfilling life, never fully developing a relationship with emotion. Citizen Kane made cinematic advances on many fronts; however, its most noteworthy contribution came from the use of a technique known as deep focus. The technique uses a combination of lighting, composition, and type of camera lens used to produce the desired effect. Deep focus is used most effectively in scenes that depict Kane’s loss of control, his personal isolation and his control over the space he controls. Deep focus has everything in the frame: putting the background in focus at the same time, as opposed to having only the people and things in the foreground in focus. Citizen Kane marked the first time in such an extensive and effective manner. A filmmaker can showcase overlapping actions therefore making the scene in which the action is taking place more crucial, and by making use of the deep focus technique, the cinematographers manipulate the scene very effectively to engage the whole scene without confusing the viewer. After Susan has already attempted suicide the shot begins and we instantly recall

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