Kael, Pauline. "II. Raising Kane." The New Yorker 27 Feb. 1971: 44.
(The Kael essay was published in two parts, 3a. is the first half as published in the February 20th, 1971 issue of the New Yorker, and 3b. is the second half as published in the February 27th, 1971 issue. Therefore, the annotations for the two parts are the same because they explain a single source.)
In this almost book-length essay, Pauline Kael provides a comprehensive and incredibly detailed examination of the film Citizen Kane. She asserts the premise that the risky subject material and the genius of those involved in the filmmaking process lead to a film that is as successful and real today as it was on it’s opening night in 1941. Her glowing review begins by addressing the film techniques that separate Citizen Kane from other movies of it’s time. It then moves to discuss the affect that the William Randolph Hearst controversy had on the success of the movie, concluding that Hearst was quite unable to limit the value of the film. However, she does note that RKO’s delay in releasing the film made it seem to have questionable popularity, which effectively reduced the popularity of the film. The bulk of Kael’s essay is dedicated to exploring how script-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz fits into the making of Citizen Kane. Mankiewicz is ignored by most reviews of the film, (largely due to direct actions taken by Welles) but Kael provides convincing arguments that it is Mankiewicz who deserves credit for some of the genius we often give to Welles. Her portrayal of Welles is not always complimentary as she reveals her view that Mankiewicz was treated very unfairly by Welles and the film community as a whole. Finally, Kael goes on to explain many of the symbols and mysteries contained in Citizen Kane. It is impossible to describe all that Kael covers in Raising Kane because it is both deep and comprehensive, but these are a representative sample of the arguments she defends.
Most applicable to my thesis is Keal’s discussion of the meaning of ‘Rosebud’. Notably, she highlights Orson Welles own conflicts about what to make of the mysterious symbol. She cites a discussion Welles has with Mrs. Alexander in which, when asked about the meaning of ‘Rosebud,’ he responds by saying that “My dear Mrs. Alexander, I don’t know, I’m making it up as I go along.” This quote illustrates that, concerning ‘Rosebud,’ Welles had to go through the same search for meaning that audiences must still undertake today. Again, this sort of assertion created a need for Welles to explain that he did indeed have and know a purpose for the symbol 'Rosebud.'