Citizen Kane’s unchallenged reputation as one of the greatest films in all cinema is matched only by the accumulation of critical commentary that surrounds it. What more can there be to say about a masterpiece so universally acknowledged? As Laura Mulvey shows in a fresh and original reading, the richness of the film, both thematically and stylistically, is inexhaustible. In a lucid and perceptive critique she investigates the psychoanalytic structure that underlines the film’s presentation of Kane’s biography, for once taking seriously what Orson Welles himself disparagingly referred to as “dollar-book Freud.” She also illuminates the film’s historical context, revealing it to be a prescient commentary on the isolationist politics of prewar America.
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