New on Blu-ray: Citizen Kane (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition)

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941) Movie Image

Arguably the greatest movie ever made, or at the very least, the most innovative film of its time, Hollywood wunderkind Orson Welles’ cinematic masterpiece “Citizen Kane” (a film that the then 20-something co-wrote, starred, and directed in) gets a Blu-ray rebirth just in time for its 70th anniversary. The 1941 film arrives in stores September 13, 2011 in the form of a 3-disc Blu-ray Ultimate Collector’s Edition set courtesy of Warner Bros.

Citizen Kane, Orson Welles’ tour de force which the American Film Institute (AFI) chose as the #1 film of all time, celebrates its 70th Anniversary with an all new 1080p hi-definition restoration from original nitrate elements in stunning 4K resolution and revitalized digital audio. Warner Home Video will bring the iconic masterwork to a new generation with their new Blu-ray™ 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition, complete with more than three hours of bonus content and an array of rare and collectible premiums including a 48-page collector’s book filled with photos and behind-the-scene details, 20-page reproduction of the original 1941 souvenir program, lobby cards, reproductions of rare production memos and.

It’s impossible to understate just what a cinematic accomplishment “Citizen Kane” was for its time, and in many ways, it still remains the best example of what genius can accomplish when left alone. Orson Welles was, for the most part, left alone during the production of the film (though as you’ll be able to see via the accompanying films and documentaries, the same can’t be said for the film afterwards), and the result is a wildly creative film that begs to be called a “masterpiece”. That word is thrown around a lot, but let me assure you, you don’t have to be a film school snob to take one look at “Kane”, consider the era in which it was conceived, and realized that Welles one hell of a special filmmaker.

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941) Movie Image

Even if you have just a passing interest in film, the storyline of “Citizen Kane” should be pretty old hat by now. Welles stars as Charles Foster Kane, a media mogul who dies old, alone, and in bed uttering the infamous line, “Rosebud”. Told primarily in flashbacks, the film then follows a reporter’s attempts to investigate the rich man’s life, beginning with Kane’s childhood, his rise as a newspaper mogul (his brand of journalism being of the yellow variety), his failed marriages and scandals, and his run for New York Governor. What secrets does “Rosebud” hold? Telling you would be unfair, since the big reveal at the end is worth it.

It’s hard to believe, but Welles was only in his mid-20s when he made “Citizen Kane”, his feature film directorial and acting debut. You would have to had some set of brass ones to think you could pull something like that off, especially with all the new cinematic techniques he would end up introducing to the world. Imagine being that young, then telling everyone you’re going to “try something different”. Which is probably why, as highly regarded as “Kane” is, Welles the man is equally as astounding. Watch “Citizen Kane” and you’ll realize that there hasn’t been another genius like him in film in quite some time.

“Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition comes in a 3-disc Blu-ray set that includes a gorgeously restored print of the movie. You also get a small hardcover book featuring storyboards from the movie, along with a press book with the film’s original movie posters in greeting card-sized reproductions. Interesting, but the movie should be the real treat here.

Citizen Kane 70th Anniversary Blu-ray

Of the three discs, Disc 1 includes full-length audio commentaries by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich and movie reviewer Roger Ebert, along with some extras including:

  • Opening: World Premier of Citizen Kane Vintage Featurettes
  • Interview with Ruth Warrick
  • Interview with Robert Wise
  • Storyboards
  • Call Sheets
  • Still Photography with Commentary by Roger Ebert
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Ad Campaign
  • Press Book
  • Opening Night
  • Theatrical Trailer

Disc 2 contains the 1996 PBS documentary “The Battle Over Citizen Kane”, which chronicles the epic battle between publishing titan William Randolph Hearst and Orson Welles. At the heart of the conflict, of course, was Welles’ Kane, created as the cinematic version of William Randolph Hearst. The lesson here? Don’t mess with a man who can buy ink by the bucket, even if you’re a young, brash filmmaker with more creativity in one pinky than most people have in their entire body. Great, captivating stuff. Power versus vision — who ya got?

Disc 3 contains the film 1999 movie “RKO 281”, essentially the cinematic version of “The Battle Over Citizen Kane” (above). Liev Schreiber stars as Welles, the young Hollywood upstart filled with piss and vinegar, with James Cromwell as his adversary, the dominating paper mogul Hearst. The all-star cast includes Melanie Griffith, Liam Cunningham, Roy Scheider, and John Malkovich as “Citizen Kane” co-writer Herman Mankiewicz. “RKO 281” is the docudrama for those of you who finds documentary boring.

Buy “Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition” on Blu-ray from Warner Bros. September 13, 2011.

Citizen Kane 70th Anniversary Blu-ray