Sample essay on History of Motion Pictures

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   The movie opens with a metaphor for the whole picture in that through a series of shots tracked that begins from the outside of the castle gate of estate of Xanadu as it shows a sign of NO TRESPASSING, the camera is then brought closer to the window near Kane’s bedroom, where the same position is maintained until various shots are taken. On reaching the window, the light suddenly varnishes and Kane utters his last words i.e. “Rosebud” which was a bit enigmatic. The scene shifts loudly into a newsreel which acts as the publishing tycoon’s obituary. As the end of the footage approaches, the documentary is stopped and the scene is shifted into a smoky room in which journalists are filled as they receive the task of discovering of course via interviews why Kane had to utter the word “Rosebud” (Lester).

            The remainder of the film is composed of four sections where Kane’s early life is revealed by the banker. Also, the newspaper empire is told of Kanes’s first marriage details by his business associate and another of his best friend analyzes the personality and what resulted to his downfall. Still in the unraveling of information, Kane’s second wife in an alcoholic hysteria gives information of how frustrated and sad his husband had become. It later happens that none of the close associates of Kane can break the code what “Rosebud” really meant although the audience can identify the secret (Lester).

            This is followed by a scene of workers burning objects which have accumulated over the years showing the name “Rosebud” on a sled which was given to Kane when he was young. It symbolizes opportunities that were missed, lost youth or an acknowledgement of perhaps Kane’s love of objects above people. Thus viewers are only left to figure out the main riddle held by the movie on their own (Lester).  

            Welles the film writer never had to invent any techniques of the film techniques applied in the movie but he rather had a combination of a variety of ideas into one work. It was not until Kane was produced but earlier most movies had a snappy dialogue dominating and rather unusual situation as visual messages were not that important. So, Orson Welles brought out a combination of the most recent innovations in production of visual messages that bear choreographed actions demonstrated by actors as they move the plot in different levels. Gregg Toland, a cinematographer, took advantage of the latest lighting and stocking of films in perfecting a technique then known as “pan focus” though it has changed to be now called deep focus to avoid confusion with panning which is used in describing camera movement (Lester).

            Most films then were dominated by a style of soft-focus shooting as lamps of low wattage and slow films implied that the setting of the lenses had to be opened widely so as to obtain a depth of field that was shallow. But now with lights of high quality, lenses bearing wide angles and faster films, Toland may have had a depth of field that would carry approximately twenty inches to a hundred feet. As a matter of fact, Welles managed to exploit the advantage arising technically as he staged his actors. This way, action could have taken place concurrently in the background as well as in the foreground. This technique as highlighted by writers such as Bazin gave viewers additional freedom to decide the part of the screen they opted to watch. Such deep-focus needed that those sets used in the film be huge. It was Welles who made a request towards the inclusion of muslin ceilings in order that perspectives of extreme up angle could be utilized. As earlier reflected, not any other directors who had ever bothered with ceilings as an inclusion to their sets since most shoots were at the eye level. In addition, recording of actors and lighting are somehow difficult with inclusion of the ceilings in a set. Therefore, without denying the fact, Welles made a presentation of a much more realistic message with the inclusion of the ceilings. As a result high contrast of the lighting was eminent especially from behind. This effect created a dramatic separation of the actors from the surroundings. This is a contrast from previous films, which had a low contrast and lighting techniques that were flat (Lester).

            Hence, we can say that the character Citizen Kane, Citizen Kane the significant biography of William Randolph Hearst and the movie Citizen Kane are the aspects of a masterpiece which might never be understood completely. As it happens in most brilliant works of art, disagreements arise over their significance, problems are created due to the confusing messages, and questions are raised over their links to the actual people. On the other hand, the reason for the enduring of the motion pictures art forms is perhaps the hope of someone one day producing a work bearing equal importance to that portrayed in by Citizen Kane (Lester).

            The connection between Hitchcock and Welles is not as obvious as it appears, they are almost ignored although they have concurrent careers in Hollywood and their films are normally viewed via through various lenses. Welles in spite of various attempts by critics to revive his later standings, damaged films, and is normally perceived as the child phenomenon that edged out, his great personality and flamboyance was too much for Hollywood to digest. Hitchcock on the other hand is seen as the main example of a director that realized to uphold the honesty of his films as he used charm and also some production methods in convincing studio executives about the commercial appeal in addition to the profitability of most films. Also, in his black humor, he had managed to ignore several minor disappointments among studios and he moved on towards the next endless thrillers in hi line and thus turning each bit that could enhance publicity into a mock of big things that could have come (Morris). Eventually, the career paths they undertook diverged in the early 1941 as both were under fire from executive studios of RKO. Hitchcock had agreed to do a reshoot for the film suspicion avoiding the RKO’s hatchet fro targeting his films becoming the greatest studio then. Welles who went to South America to shoot It’s All True was less fortunate as he couldn’t keep off the RKO from mauling their editing room and killing it (Morris).  

            Although Alfred Hitchcock never invented the modern cinema, he has so much influence to the modern way of how movies have been directed by writers such as Scorsese, Coppola, Spike Lee and Spielberg. During his career, he worked through a wide range of genres in films starting from “court drama” and then “screwball comedy”. But he is remembered in the modern day film genres for his major contributions in horror movies and suspense in movies. He is the most emulated director in most motion pictures and most of his work including Vertigo, Rebecca, Rear Window and North by Northwest which has brought him international fame thus being labeled as the master of suspense (Wood). 

            Unlike those directors that were earlier before him, Orson Welles and the team used in the Kane movie had a major effect even to the modern day movies as it still appears contemporary in the current standards. The unique cinematography they employed which was accomplished via the use of “deep focus” lens which was created by Toland, reinvented any impact that any single image could bear. Thus, in the modern day films, nuance and pop of scenes could be put into deep focus in which Welles used in painting his pictures so as every viewing could bring a new thing to the audience (Wood).

            Despite Hitchcock immensely privileging the image above the word, he insisted that his most serious work were done during screenwriting. He had defined the process of screen writing as the space where directorial decisions had already been made. He never thought of writing apart for the arrangements he had planned for the camera.  Screenwriting meant creating the image that would not only be the core structure of the movie but also forming a complete system in which the visual and literary elements of any movie could be designed through a dynamic relation. To further clarify, Hitchcock had so much involvement towards the creation of the script not only words per se but also how spoken they would, the angle from which they were filmed thus he introduced a one-man production team in the stage used in planning. As observed from his earlier films, he could not give actors beyond a puppet status this makes him what the French refers to as “Auteur”. This word has been in common usage especially in describing an artist in any film. Although a bit criticized today only Spike Lee and Woody Allen as those involved in creative film making process. Although some has been referred as auteurs in the old days namely, Charlie Chaplin, Cecil B. deMille, D.W. Griffith, Mack Sennett, Welles and Selznick, nowadays, it is considered like the term had been invented for Hitchcock. In more than half a century, through above fifty films, Hitchcock was the innovator of mystery thriller and nobody since then has been able to duplicate (Haas).


           Works Cited

Haas, Werner. The early films of Alfred Hitchcock-Writer. 31 October 2006. 04 June 2011 <>.

Lester, Paul Martin. "Visual Communications Images with Messages." Motion Pictures (2004): Chapter 13.

Morris, Gary. Welles' Influence on Hitchcock. September 1994. 04 June 2011 <>.

Wood, Jennifer M. "The 25 Most Influential Directors of All Time." Movie Maker (2002): Online.