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"Citizen Kane": The Pain of Loss

Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles, traces the life of fictional newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane (played by Welles) from childhood to his deathbed. The film pieces together witnesses' testimonies of Kane's tumultuous personality and lifestyle, as news reporter Jerry Thompson (William Alland) tries to determine the meaning of Kane's dying word: Rosebud.

Early in the film, a young Charles happily plays in the snow in front of his mother's boardinghouse. Unknown to Charles, his mother (Agnes Moorehead) meets with Mr. Walter Parks Thatcher (George Coulouris) inside the boardinghouse, where she signs papers that give Thatcher guardianship of Charles. The adults then bundle up and go outside to deliver the news to Charles that he will be leaving his family and home.

Mrs. Kane says, "Mr. Thatcher is going to take you on a trip with him tonight, Charles. You'll be leaving on Number Ten."

"You goin', Mom?" Charles asks.

After Charles realizes his mother will stay behind, Thatcher tries to introduce himself to the upset child.

"Come on, Charles. Let's shake hands. Now, now! I'm not as frightening as all that! Let's shake, what do you say?"

As Thatcher comes closer, Charles hits him in the stomach with his wooden sled and runs into the safety of his mother's arms.

Mr. Kane says, "Sorry, Mr. Thatcher! What the kid needs is a good thrashing!"

Mrs. Kane responds, "That's what you think, is it, Jim? That's why he's going to be brought up where you can't get at him."

Throughout the rest of the film, Thompson learns that Kane looked for love and fulfillment in many ways. Kane rescued a dying newspaper. He married for love and then left his first wife to pursue a relationship and marriage with his mistress. He even constructed an elaborate palace (Xanadu) and filled it with riches from around the world.

But Kane died alone and forgotten. And when he died, he thought only of Rosebud.

As the film comes to a close, Thompson walks around the basement of Xanadu, staring at all of Kane's wealth. He says, "I guess Rosebud is just a piece in a jigsaw puzzle—a missing piece."

While workers shovel trash into a furnace, the camera rests on a pile of burning junk. Kane's abandoned wooden sled burns on the top of the pile. Amidst the flames, you can decipher one word on the sled: Rosebud.

Elapsed time: Measured from the beginning of the opening credit, this scene begins at 00:19:00 and ends at 00:23:00 (DVD track 6).

Content: Citizen Kane is rated PG.

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