“It isn’t enough to tell us what a man did. You’ve got to tell us who he was.”

And boy, did you. The entries that we received for the Great Citizen Kane Debate were above and beyond our expectations. After quite a bit of reading (and re-reading) and discussion amongst ourselves, we have determined the prize winners!

The voting was quite close, particularly between first and second place, and we want to commend each and every blogger who participated for writing some truly thought-provoking, intriguing entries.

Without further ado …

First Place: The Mythical Monkey (A Mythical Monkey Writes About the Movies) for his insightful and humorous entry, Citizen Kane: Best Ever? Monkey raises some interesting questions about the film, and we felt that his approach to the debate was extremely well-written, refreshingly honest, logical, and heartfelt:

But more than its large, operatic aspects, it’s the fact that Kane also works on a deeply personal level that makes it resonate for me. Kane is above all else an uncompromising look at aging—the waning energy, the missed opportunities and the nagging sense as your days grow dim that nothing you’ve accomplished is going to make a damn bit of difference when you’re gone—certainly nothing you accomplish can stop you from one day being gone, and that’s a sobering enough thought for most of us.

Is Kane the best movie ever made? How can that even be defined? No one movie can ever satisfy every single urge or taste. Sometimes I want to see a comedy, sometimes a thriller, sometimes a romance. Sometimes I want fun-stupid and sometimes I want to take a nap. And sometimes I want something so involving I lose myself in it and come out the other end with a different sense of who I am and what it all means.

For me, Kane is one of those transformative movie experiences.”

~~~

Second Place: Rachel (The Girl With the White Parasol) for her passionate celebration of the film, Citizen Kane Takes the Stand. Rachel breaks down the elements of Kane that make it such a perennial critical favorite while highlighting the moments that resonate with her personally (including the story behind the name of her blog, which is just a damn beautiful piece of writing):

“I’m going to end my commentary on Citizen Kane with a personal confession. The reason why I named my blog, “The Girl with the White Parasol.” Anyone familiar with Citizen Kane knows Mr. Bernstein’s famous speech in which he remembers one fleeting glimpse of a girl with a parasol, years and years ago. “I only saw her for one second. She didn’t see me at all, but I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that girl.” When I chose that quote and title for my blog, I worried for a long time that people might think I was calling myself after that long-lost girl. And wouldn’t that seem like the height of arrogance? No one ever questioned me on the subject but here is my chance to set the record straight. The girl with the white parasol isn’t me. For me, the girl represents a brief flash of beauty in a person’s life. One of those brief moments that stay with us forever, no matter where we end up or what we do. The reason I watch films is so that I can find those moments of beauty, whether they come from a Technicolor image or from the throb in an actor’s voice or from a string chorus. That’s why I named my blog, “The Girl with the White Parasol.” That’s why I love film. And that’s why I love Citizen Kane.”

~~~

Third Place: Jill (Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence) for her laugh-inducing entry, Wait a Minute, There’s No Cane in Citizen Kane! Jill admits that her opinion of Kane is generally “meh,” but that she nonetheless recognizes its importance in the history of film. Of particular interest is Jill’s breakdown of some recent pop-culture homages to the movie (we were thoroughly amused by that “Ghostbusters” clip she posted–a sheer moment of “what-the-fuckery” if I’ve ever seen one):

“Is Citizen Kane the Greatest Movie Ever Made? No. I will say that it is quite possibly the greatest film to get away with mocking the biggest and most powerful media tycoon. Welles accomplished an almost impossible feat and ultimately suffered because of it. He didn’t get the credit he deserved. […] If Citizen Kane isn’t the greatest then what is? To be perfectly honest, I don’t think there can be a film with the distinction of being “The Greatest Movie Ever Made.” What’s so wonderful about movies is that they have different impressions on different people. […] The viewer decides what is the greatest…to them. Yes, some films surpass the norm to become masterpieces and perfect examples of a particular style of acting, directing or genre. To say there is one film that surpasses them all to become the greatest, I don’t think so.”

~~~

Congratulations to our winners, and thanks again to EVERYONE who took the time to pen an entry for this debate. I think all three of us can agree that we learned quite a bit about this movie from reading your thoughts about it! And personally, I can honestly say that reading your entries on Kane has given me some new perspectives from which to examine the film. I doubt it will suddenly become my favorite movie ever (I still love you, Casablanca!), but I feel as though I have a renewed appreciation for its strengths, and I’ll approach my next viewing of Kane (whenever that may be) with perhaps more of an open mind than before.

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3 thoughts on ““It isn’t enough to tell us what a man did. You’ve got to tell us who he was.”

  1. Hello Brandie!

    Many congratulations to the winners – well deserved! My personal favorite of the bunch has to be Rachel’s, although I have to admit it’s a very close decision. Thanks so much for hosting this event, was a lot of fun writing, reading, and discussing this film!

    Take care
    David.

  2. Thank you so much, Brandie, Nikki, and Carrie, for hosting this wonderful event! And I’m tickled to death at getting a prize. Now I’m off to go find M.M. and Jill and throw roses at them. And David, I’m honored by your favoritism; I really enjoyed debating with you.

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