Analyzing Citizen Kane through the Communication Model
Rosebud from the movie Citizen Kane, Orson Welles, 1941
Citizen Kane was a very powerful man. He owned many companies, had many employees working for him, he had lots of money and he owned lots of property. At the same time Citizen Kane missed something in his life. All of his possessions had no meaning to him. The only thing that had meant anything in his entire life was Rosebud. Rosebud was his sleigh as a child. Rosebud is symbolic for a traumatic transition in Citizen Kane’s life – a time when he was taken from his home and transplanted into another one. In his new home he was taught how to be successful in life – however the one thing that his new guardians did not consider was the fragility of the human soul. Intellectually Citizen Kane became powerful and strong but the opposite side of the same coin, Citizen Kane was a devastated soul. He always did what others expected of him, he became, in a sense, a man-made-monster. A monster that generated money like the machine cogs in a Charlie Chaplin movie but with a violent incongruence. Citizen Kane’s psychopathology lead him to be successful within the eyes of society – but at the same time he walked around with a crushed soul. This 1941 film is so remarkable because this film is not about defeat – but rather it is about victory. Orson Welles – who I believe is Citizen Kane – dies in the movie whispering Rosebud – the one thing he loved the most in his life – his sleigh. At the end of the movie he does not remember how much money he has, he does not think of all the companies he has owned – instead his last word – is the essence of his life. Citizen Kane’s final word before his death is his redemption. In the absolute last second of his existence, he connects to the world in a profound way – and this act frees him and hence makes him a saint-like human-being – liberated from earthly expectations. He transcends. This is the ultimate existence, even if it is for a fraction of a second – it is more then most experience in their lifetimes.
Written by Annuska van der Pol, BA, PDD-IMHA
Mental Health and Addictions Practitioner
TCM, PO Box 8825, Victoria, BC V8W 3S3 Canada
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