Citizen Kane

The Long Take and Shot-Reverse Shot in Citizen Kane

Director Orson Welles, along with Cinematographer Gregg Toland and others, expertly controlled the atmosphere of Citizen Kane through the heavy use of long take and the occasional instance of conventional shot-reverse shot passages. Through careful use of framing within these shots, those in charge of Citizen Kane were able to focus the audience's attention on particular parts of the frame without forcing the viewer to observe only a small portion of the film's environment. When the shot-reverse shot technique was employed it signified dramatic turning points in the exuberant but troubled life of Charles Foster Kane. Taken as a whole, the long take adds realism, as it allows the audience to explore the setting on their own, while the shot-reverse shot passages eliminate deep space composition to focus attention on the dialogue and character emotions.

The first shot chosen for discussion is a particularly strong example of long take because it not only lasts two and a half minutes and has multiple elements of deep space composition, but it also utilizes a multitude of characters placed at varying depths. I have chosen this shot as it agrees with Jean Renoir's 1938 quotation that the characters are "set at...

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