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Citizen Kane

(BFI Film Classics)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  215 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Citizen Kane's unchallenged reputation as one of the greatest films in all cinema is matched only by the accumulation of critical commentary that surrounds it. What more can there be to say about a masterpiece so universally acknowledged? As Laura Mulvey shows in a fresh and original reading, the richness of the film, both thematically and stylistically, is inexhaustible. ...more
Paperback, 87 pages
Published December 27th 1992 by British Film Institute (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  215 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
Laura Mulvey declares herself from the outset to be a feminist critic. She then quickly admits that a feminist reading of Citizen Kane wouldn't be that fruitful. However, she says that she will put the movie through the rigors of what she things is the cornerstone of feminist criticism - Freudian analysis. I am not familiar (or interested) enough in either Freudian analysis or feminist criticism to know if the result in this book is successful in either discipline. I can say that it made for p ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was interesting, but there was nothing really groundbreaking about it.
Steffen Seamon
Feb 03, 2021 rated it liked it
that’s enough Oedipal complex for today...
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
A bit too much feminist psychoanalist approach and comparison with William Randolph Hearst for my taste. Other BFI Film classic titles I read favoured the direct contact with the film (which I prefer also). But if you're into Mulvey you may be fully satisfied. ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
My wife picked up a stack of the BFI's classic film series books at a library sale, and if this one is any indication, it will be a pleasure to read them. Laura Mulvey is an experimental filmmaker and an academic focusing on feminist and psychoanalytic theory, and she brings these varied strands of her background together in her analysis of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. To my relief, she avoids the dry, overcooked insularity that plagues a lot of academic writing, presenting her ideas and analysis ...more
afoty boy
May 27, 2018 rated it liked it
i really wish this had been structured properly. it's free association style leaves a lot of loose ends which are glossed over real higgledy-piggledy - although that was the first time i'd read that term in an academic text and it was very exciting. Mulvey's problem seems to be in finding the proper structure to accommodate her compelling views. although i did find mulvey's notion of an ideological transition from kane as a radical leftist to staunch conservative/protofascism to be weak as it ne ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mostly convincing Freudian psychoanalysis of the plot with some fine historical underpinnings. The best of this series add real spice to the films, and this one does not disappoint. My main criticism is that I wanted more on the actors and their performances. For another day/source.....

Wrapped itself a little too much in Freudian analysis. I'm pretty partial to it, myself, but it's a not what you do its the way that you do it kind of situation.

I did appreciate how she tied the film in with the geopolitical situation of the time- Kane (hearst) is a conservative, rabidly conservative, isolationist. Earlier drafts of the script made more of this tie-in with fascism (or at least fascist sympathies- at that point in history, for Americans, not altogether that much of a difference)
Sep 05, 2012 rated it liked it
With a film as complex as "Citizen Kane," the possibilities of interpretation and analysis are really countless. Mulvey does a solid job of giving her own perspective on what is below the surface, and one that is interesting and insightful. She talks a lot about psychoanalytical factors or potential reasons for characters' actions or the structure of the film. I enjoyed reading her thoughts about "Citizen Kane" and think it's definitely worth reading, as I think there's a lot of validity to her ...more
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
My expectations for this one were simply a bit of a recap of the story along with some possible ways of interpreting it. As long as you don't expect an encyclopedia, I think this will prove very rewarding and useful.

There's a lot of background stuff regarding what happened in the making of the film, which was what I mostly wanted from a book like this. At the same time, it touches upon the various themes and topics that you might think about in relation to the film, which is why it works - seri
James F
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cinema
Another in the BFI Film Classics series. Although I have never been one of those who consider Citizen Kane the greatest film of all time, it definitely represented a landmark in cinema history, and this book explains why. It points out the many ways in which the film differs from the average Hollywood movie, and some of the innovations, both technically and thematically, which made it so outstanding. It also gives a psychoanalytic reading of the film which goes beyond the superficial Freudian in ...more
May 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 700s, language
Precise, economical, assured, but offered with a certain humility too. She manages to talk about the film's political and historical context and give a thorough analysis of the story's development without neglecting detailed examination of particular shots and choices of lighting, framing, cuts, script revisions, etc.

"The appeal to read the scene is made, and also frustrated." (28)

On Susan Alexander Kane: "as spectacle, attempting to impersonate the erotic codes essential for woman as spectacle
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
LOVE this series! This particular book is particularly one-sided towards the left, though, so be prepared for that. As someone who sees Kane neither as a protagonist or antagonist, but rather a person like any other who has great qualities as well as demons, I appreciated Mulvey's perspectives, even though she definitely seems mostly opposed to Kane. ...more
Sagar Jethani
Apr 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, mythology
Nice little bit of analysis. Brought out aspects of the film I had never noticed before. Could have done without all the Freudian interpretation, but I suppose that reflects contemporaneous literary analysis.
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Laura Mulvey is a British feminist film theorist. She was educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford. She is currently professor of film and media studies at Birkbeck, University of London. She worked at the British Film Institute for many years before taking up her current position.

Mulvey is best known for her essay, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema", written in 1973 and published in 1975 in the

Other books in the series

BFI Film Classics (1 - 10 of 180 books)
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  • Blackmail
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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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