Friday, October 12th, 2012...2:56 am

Shot by Shot analysis : Citizen Kane

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Scene analysis: from Citizen Kane (dir. Orson Welles, RKO, 1941)

Scene where Mr.Thatcher is talking with Mr. Kane, he is about to surrender his paper.Then Mr. thompson is trying to look for the meaning of Rosebud.

You can find the scene here:

 Shot 1   

        0:00 – 00:17

  • Medium shot, Straight on, Deep focus, Long take Mr. Kane is speaking with Mr. Thatcher about the Inquirer; they get into a small argument because Thatcher thinks Kane is losing his money. There is some tension between them. The lighting is coming from the bottom but throughout the shot there is more light on Mr. Kane than Thatcher. The sound is only the dialogue between them, on screen. Mr. Kane voice is louder that Thatcher. The transition from this shot to the next is very quick, the editing and transition are very quick you can barely notice you went from one shot to the other. Mise-en-scéne


  • In this shot the use of deep focus and Mise-en-scéne are very important and a similar pattern through the film. We can see the two men in the back looking at Mr. Kane and Mr. Thatcher although they are so far behind because it is a long take using Mise-en-scéne and deep focus. We can appreciate everything in our surroundings and are able to make our own conclusions. Also the lighting in the film is from the bottom and Mr. Kane is always brighter than the rest of the characters, this is also a pattern through the movie.


  • Deep focus I think was used by Welles through the film enable for us to make our own conclusions. He wanted us to see every detail in the shot and with this he created a lot of suspense.Also the use of lighting is very peculiar in almost all the shots in the film Mr. Kane always has more lighting. It almost look like he glows compared to everyone else, this was used enable to portray Kane in a divine way.

Shot 2


  • Medium Close-up, Deep focus, Short take straight on. Mr. Kane is arguing to Mr. Thatcher that he is going to lose “60 million dollars” but doesn’t care. He sounds very sarcastic and with a small smirk in his face. The lighting is from the bottom, but very low light. There are two sounds in this shot, Kane’s voice talking to Thatcher and at the end of the shot there is this peculiar non-diegetic music. The music almost feels like a circus. The transition between this shot and the next is characterized by a small dim of the light that goes dark and finally transitions into the next shot.
  • In this shot, sound is very peculiar, because it relates so much with what Kane is saying. I interpret that Kane is trying to tell Thatcher that he doesn’t care and that he is going to do as he pleases but in a very sarcastic way. In the final transition there is a short sound of music that is also very humorous. Throughout the Film Welle’s incorporates these pieces of sounds that relate with the dialogue, it is a pattern within the film.


  • Welles uses this technique enable to create different emotions. In this particular shot he uses non-diegetic music that is very sarcastic almost like circus music enable to prove Kane’s point. The deep focus is also used in this scene although we are very close to Kane’s face we can also see Thatcher head.

Shot 3

00:31- 2:52
  • It goes from a Medium close-up to a Medium shot to a Medium long shot and finally a
  •  Medium shot. Deep focus throughout the whole scene. Long take, straight on. Mr. Kane is talking with Thatcher about his papers to surrender and they get in a small discussion about his money. He does not have as much money as he first had; he is going through financial problems. Mr. Kane is very tired of the same situations and he finally signs the papers and surrenders. Very Low light, very dark. There is not so much camera movement but it does give us the impression that the camera is zooming in and out. The sound we here is only the dialogue of the three men in the room, and when it transitions from this shot to the next there is some mysterious off screen sound. There no big edit cuts; there is only the transition that fades away into a darker room. A non-diegetic mysterious sound helps transition from this shot to the next.


  • The use of deep focus is very important in the scene. The fact that is a long take and uses the technique         Mis-en-scéne lets us look at every single piece of the setting. After he signs the papers he turns and walks into the back of the shot. Deep focus in the scene allows Welles to play with the viewer’s perspective, because we can see everything clear no matter how far Kane goes. We can see a window behind Kane and we perceive it as normal but. But as the shot develops we see Kane walking towards the window, as he walks further the windows seems higher and higher. Eventually he stands beneath it and it shrinks, Kane look very small compared to the window. Then as he walks toward us it turns into normal size again. In this scene Kane’s importance and stature are diminished. We can only conclude that Welles was showing us how Kane’s power diminishes in a matter of seconds. Welles used this technique very wisely and to portray so many different thi


Shot 4

00:23 – 00:31

  • Straight on, Short take, Extreme close-up. The Camera moves very rapidly, we are transitioning from the scene of Mr. Kane talking to Thatcher. The camera moves from left to right showing a part of a sentence saying “In the winter of 1929”.We speculate that this is the winter were Mr. Kane was given away to Thatcher. The purpose of showing just a slight part of the whole document in this shot is to create mystery for what’s going to happen later on. Non-diegetic sound occurs very loud, the sound of music that we hear is very mysterious.


Shot 5

2:52 – 2:57

  • Medium close-up, High angle, short take. The scene transitions from Mr.kane signing the papers into this shot. They use non-diegetic mysterious sound to transition into this scene. You see a man from the back reading a document that is extremely illuminated almost looks divine. As the shot goes on you notice that it’s Mr. Thompson reading the document very careful although you cannot read what it says, you know it is very important. This makes the shot very mysterious. Everything is in deep focus throughout the whole shot. You can also see the shadows from what seems are very large windows. The lighting in this shot is used so the document looks very shiny and divine. Mr. Thompson looks very dark, you can barely see him mostly only shadows. At the end of the shot the transition is very quick no fading in or out.


  • This scene is very alike other scenes everybody else has very low lighting and dark clothes expect on Mr. Kane or his belongings. Because we cannot read what the book says it creates mystery within the shot.


Shot 6

2:57 – 3:19

  • Low angle, Deep focus, Long take, Medium long shot. The shot starts form a low angle were Mr. Thompson has finished reading Mr. Kane’s document. Everything is deep focus; we can even see the painting in the back and the detail of the framing. In this shot we can still see the document shining and it is the only bright thing in the shot, everybody else looks very dark. The lighting is also very low and it seems that its coming from below.


  • As the shot develops the house keeper enters the room the camera pulls up into a more visible low angle. Know we can see the painting very clear and we notice its Mr. Kane. Throughout the rest of the shot the camera movement is still. After the house keepers comes in they all look up to the painting and the guard takes his hat off as if he was saluting somebody important. That is another example of how throughout the film Mr. Kane is portrayed as something superior.


  • Like in other shots Mr. Kane is portrayed divine the lighting in the painting is very peculiar and makes the painting stand out. Through the scene anything related to Mr. Kane is showed as superior from the rest. The lighting is very important in this shot and through the film.
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  • This is really impressive– you took on so much more than I expected!! And your analysis is solid, well supported by your detailed observations. You’ve got a definite knack for this!!

  •   Michele Shakhmurov
    December 11th, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I agree with the professor! There are so many details that you brought up that I missed, or maybe I just don’t have an eye like you. I enjoy the different uses of focus and angles. I think it really completed the image and allowed the audience to get an in depth look at everything.

  • I agree with the professor! There are so many details that you brought up that I missed, or maybe I just don’t have an eye like you. I enjoy the different uses of focus and angles. I think it really completed the image and allowed the audience to get an in depth look at everything.

  • […] – Citizen Kane is still revered today for the unique, dramatic angles used in the film. Though that was a motion picture and not photography, the same basic principles […]

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