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U Citizen Kane SE DVD (1941)
Reviewed by Almar Haflidason

updated 18th July 2003

reviewer's rating
three star


Orson Welles

Herman J Mankiewicz
Orson Welles

Orson Welles
Joseph Cotten
Everett Sloane
Dorothy Comingore
Ray Collins
Agnes Moorehead

119 minutes

Universal (UK)


21st July 2003


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Read our film review of "Citizen Kane"

If you're looking to study "Citizen Kane" on an academic level, then this DVD should prove ideal. While well made and a worthwhile release, the extra content is a bit on the dry side.


Picture Don't expect major revelations in this department. The picture on offer is good for contrast and the print is in reasonable condition, but it does deteriorate a little towards the end. It's better than on video, but not radically so.

Sound The mono sound has been beefed up a bit, and hiss levels are down from previous releases.


Disc One Special Features

Audio Commentary This DVD release should really be called 'Technical Edition' as most of the special features are obsessed with the mechanics of the film. This is quite a valid approach as the movie is cleverly filmed, but somewhere along the line the joy and drama of "Kane" has been left by the wayside.

Film historian and producer of this DVD, Ken Barnes, takes on the commentary reins. If you're after a fact-filled debate about the making of the film, then you've come to the right place as he dissects many important shots and how they were put together.

Disc Two Special Features

Anatomy of a Classic Hosted by Barry Norman, this documentary on the making of a classic is again a technical treasure trove, but does little to celebrate what has motivated people to consistently vote this the best film ever made.

The unusual development of the screenplay is covered, but a lot of the time goes into dissecting shots on a visual level and revealing tricks like the hessian ceilings used so that sound could be recorded without obtrusive microphone booms.

Restoration Comparison At eight minutes, the comparative shots of the prints before and after restoration go on for too long. The difference is impressive but the unrestored print does look suspiciously worse than old video releases.

Welles Off Screen This part of the DVD is an inspired idea. Not only can you listen to Orson's radio play "The Happy Prince" with Bing Crosby, but also the classic "War of the Worlds" broadcast, which still chills today.

Trailer If you look at this special trailer which Orson shot footage especially for, you see the humour, the salesmanship of Welles, and the excitement that he successfully conveys about "Citizen Kane". This makes this rather dry DVD release all the more confusing. It's an all-time great film, not a museum piece that should be discussed in purely academic terms.

Additional Extra Features Also on disc two is a photo gallery, cast and crew profiles, and a complete budget breakdown on what the film cost to make.

Chapters: 20
Ratio: 1.33:1 (fullscreen)
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono)
Audio Tracks: English
Subtitles: See Captions
Captions: English
Menus: Animated, with music
Special Features Subtitles None of the special features come with subtitles or captions.

This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.

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