BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY Citizen Kane★★★★★ 9.00-11.00pm BBC4
So, is Orson Welles’s masterpiece truly the cinema’s greatest product? Whether it is or not, it must be in the squad. It tells of the life and death of Charles Foster Kane (Welles), a media magnate closely based on William Randolph Hearst, and is certainly one of the most influential films ever made. Somehow Welles, the 25-year-old debutant director, incorporated pretty well everything that had been learned since the birth of talking pictures and threw in several innovations of his own. In the use of light and shade and camera angles and in the clear telling of a convoluted story, which begins and ends in the same place, he provided an object lesson for every film-maker since. It is undeniably a great film, though it’s interesting to note that Welles himself thought his next picture, The Magnificent Ambersons, was, in its original form, even better. Unfortunately, the studio thought it too long and so hacked it about and all that remains now is a magnificent ruin.