The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: RKO - 1941
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 119 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.37:1
Audio Format(s): English/Portuguese/Polski DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Ceske, Eaahnika, Magyar, Polski, Romana
Starring: Orson Welles, Ruth Warrick, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, Everett Sloane
Directed by: Orson Welles
Music by: Bernard Herrmann
Written by: Orson Welles, Henry Mankiewicz
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 13, 2011
"Some called him a hero. Others called him a heel…A Hollywood Classic comes to Blu-ray"
Orson Welles' masterwork (#1 in the American Film Institute's list of Best American Movies) dazzles anew in a superb 70th-anniversary digital transfer. It’s grand entertainment, sharply acted (starting many of Welles' Mercury Players on the road to thriving film careers) and directed with inspired visual flair. Chronicling the stormy life of an influential publishing tycoon, this Best Original Screenplay Academy Award winner (1941) is rooted in themes of power, corruption, vanity – the American Dream lost in the mystery of a dying man’s last word: “Rosebud.”
Citizen Kane needs no introduction and stands as one of American Filmmaking finest achievements. Its story, meaning that of its making and beyond, is nearly as impressive (see the included and superb documentary The battle over Citizen Kane) and well worth investing time in. The film’s story examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, (Welles), a fictional character purportedly based upon the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst with certain aspects taken from Welles' own life. Kane's career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a dominating pursuit of power. His personal life is tattered by scandal, two failed marriages and a reclusively eccentric public profile. Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story is revealed through the research of a newsreel reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate's dying word: "Rosebud."
Orson Welles co-wrote and directed this film after reaching what would be the pinnacle of his career at age 25. His use of innovative cinematography, non-linear narrative, pioneering use of sound/special effects, and then first time film score composer Bernard Herrmann’s eclectic music have elevated the film to the top of the “best of” lists of many, including The American Film Institute. I find the film to be visually enamoring and love its chronological narrative style. It has been a number of years since I have seen it but it never loses it luster. This classic film garnered nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director, and won for Best Writing, Original Screenplay.
It celebrates its 70th Anniversary with this all new 1080p hi-definition restoration taken from a 4K scan of the 1941 composite fine grain positive masternitrate elements. This Ultimate Collector’s Edition is a fans delight and comes complete with more than three hours of bonus content and an array of rare and collectible premiums that include a 48-page collector’s book filled with photos and behind-the-scene details, 20-page reproduction of the original 1941 souvenir program, lobby cards and more. Also included are two bonus DVD’s containing feature-length stories-behind-the-story; the two- hour Academy Award-nominated documentary Battle over Citizen Kane and RKO 281 the Golden Globe and Emmy winning HBO docudrama that chronicles the clash between William Randolph Hearst and Hollywood. In addition there are audio commentaries, opening night newsreel footage, interviews, and production/post production details (storyboards, still photos, call sheets, press book and deleted scenes). The entire package comes housed in a sturdy, attractively embossed cardboard keepcase that is slightly larger than typical amaray style DVD storage. Citizen Kane has been meticulously restored and the results are magnificent. Those that have been waiting for this beloved piece of American Cinema to come to Blu-ray have been rewarded with this top notch offering from Warner Home Video.
The rating is for thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Citizen Kane comes to Blu-ray from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD1.0 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 825 kbps.
This 1.33:1 framed black and white video presentation is impressive. The restoration is a success that delivers marvelous video quality. Images onscreen have excellent depth with rendering that draws out plenty of delineation. Close ups and mid level pans reveal perceptible detail in the faces, hair and clothing worn by the cast as well as the texture on surfaces within the frame. This adds a noticeable sense of depth to the image making it appear more lifelike. Blacks have plenty of dynamic range and consistency which plays very well against the various stages of white and gray. The film uses lots of low level sequences that feature streaming light, shading and mixed content. While there is some natural loss of visibility in dark backgrounds the level of shadow detail is quite good.
The superb/signature cinematography by Gregg Toland uses a variety of lighting schemes, transitions and purposeful shadows that translate extremely well in this high definition presentation. Contrast is stable and supports the film’s elements naturally. Grain is presented in even layers that provide a satisfyingly filmic texture. A few backgrounds contained light digital noise but I suspect that most probably won’t even notice it. 70 years later this wonderful film looks terrific thanks to a well executed 4K restoration that gives fans the opportunity to experience it like never before. Kudos to Warner Bros.
The monaural soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio lossless and while it won’t knock your socks off I found it delivered the components of the original recording beautifully. The auditory is clean and free of unwanted clicks, pops or background hiss. Dialogue intelligibility is excellent as it is never lost amidst the other sounds coming through the central channel. Bernard Herrmann’s superb music score exhibits a broader dynamic quality and open expression that adds a bit more emphasis. Purists will appreciate the time and effort that went into maintaining the integrity of this great film’s original elements while restoring it. The result will allow those seeing it for the first time to experience it looking and sounding better than it ever has on home video.
Disc 1: (Blu-ray)
- Audio commentary with Peter Bogdonavich
- Audio commentary with Roger Ebert
- Opening: World Premiere May 1, 1941 – 1 minute newsreel
- Interviews: Ruth Warrick (1997 – 5 minutes), Robert Wise (3 minutes)
- The Production (6 segments)
- Call sheets
- Production stills with audio commentary by Roger Ebert
- Ad campaign material
- Press book
- Opening night stills
- Post production – Deleted scenes (script/storyboard/stills
Disc 2: (DVD)
- The Battle over Citizen Kane - A two-hour Oscar-nominated (1995) documentary that chronicles the titanic struggle between filmmaker Orson Welles and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who claimed Citizen Kane was a thinly veiled and slanderous account of his own life. The documentary reveals the fascinating behind-the-scenes story of how Hearst used his formidable power to try to stop production and distribution of the film, and how he ultimately sought to destroy Welles himself.
Disc 3: (DVD)
- RKO 281 - The 1999 HBO film (titled for the production number given to Citizen Kane by RKO), won three Emmys (with 13 nominations), and the Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television (2000). Directed by Benjamin Ross and written by John Logan, this dramatic depiction of the making of Citizen Kane stars Live Schreiber as Welles, James Cromwell as William Randolph Hearst, Melanie Griffith as Marion Davies, John Malkovich, Roy Scheider and Brenda Blethyn as Louella Parsons. – 86 minutes
- 48 page hardcover collector’s book
- 20 page reproduction of the original 1941 souvenir program
- Lobby cards, reproductions of rare memos/correspondence
Citizen Kane is considered by many to be the best film ever made. There is no denying its significance or place among the upper echelon of American films. It makes it debut on Blu-ray Disc in this superb 70th Anniversary Ultimate Edition set that features painstakingly restored and revitalized high definition video, faithfully reproduced lossless sound quality and a superlative compliment of bonus material and commemorative supplements that heighten the wonderful experience that Citizen Kane is. A must have for every film fan this excellent Blu-ray offering from Warner Home Video comes highly recommended.
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