Carlson, Jerry. "Citizen Kane." PMLA Vol. 91, No. 5 (Oct, 1976): 918-20.
In his piece titled Citizen Kane, Jerry Carlson provides support for the ideas of Robert Carringer, and adds an additional level of meaning to his interpretation of ‘Rosebud.’ He begins the piece establishing support for the idea that ‘Rosebud’ is a MacGuffin, used to forward Thompsons investigation of the life of Charles Foster Kane. He adds to this by claiming also that the destruction of ‘Rosebud’ the sled acts as a device to provide closure for the audience. Because the audience knows that ‘Rosebud’ is indeed a MacGuffin, they can take satisfaction from that fact that it is destroyed before it can be used to try and explain Kane as a man. He states, “the significance of Rosebud is not as a symbol or ‘symbolic imagery,’but as a rhetorical ploy to provide a sense of closure for a narrative generated upon epistemological concepts of incompleteness.” The destruction of ‘Rosebud’ makes it okay that the film leaves open the question that Carrington describes, as to whether or not Kane can actually be understood.
This article not only provides direct support for my thesis and the ideas suggested by Robert Carrington, but it also demonstrates that other aspects of the film makes sense in relation to this proposed thesis. Because the ending of the movie and the destruction of the sled follow seamlessly from the idea of the use of ‘Rosebud’ as a MacGuffin, this argument is strengthened.
Leff, Leonard J. "Reading Kane." University of California Press; Film Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 1 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 10-21
In this article, critic Leonard J. Leff comments on the meaning of Rosebud.
Leonard Leff aims to examine and explain certain questions regarding Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane. He writes that he wants to comment about the arranger of the images, the audience, and a method of reading the film that would allow one to understand his or her reactions to viewing the film and understand the meaning of what they are seeing. Leff begins by describing the methods of presentation of the character Charles Foster Kane by following the journey of Jerry Thompson, the newsreel reporter asked to discover the meaning of Kane’s last word “rosebud.” The history of Kane’s life is given as a summation of the experiences of those few people closest to him. Though Leff mentions the contributions of Kane’s second wife, Susan Alexander, and his long time companion Mr. Thatcher, he focuses on the revelations from Kane’s personal diary. From this point, the author moves his focus to the symbolic meaning of the sled called “Rosebud.” Does the sled give insight into Kane’s life? Does it help the audience understand the character? Can it be seen as a “missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle?”
Mr. Leff’s explanation of the meaning of the sled gives fascinating insight into Charles Kane’s persona. Rosebud is a sled. It is the sled that Kane was playing with on the day he was sent away from his home and his parents. Leff goes as far as to try to relate the sled as a symbol of Kane’s past – a symbol of his home before his great wealth. Leff writes of Kane’s reaction to leaving is mother, “From Charles’s sullen face, the film cuts to neither Thatcher nor the father. Instead, it dissolves to the boy’s sled. The sound of a train whistle far in the distance, connoting Kane and his guardian’s movement east…” Is the sled a huge puzzle that offers closure to the film? Leff argues that the film affirms this. The viewer is given a huge “rush” -- the timpani rolls, the music retards and crescendos, and the camera slowly zooms into “Rosebud.” The revelation may not solve anything because Mr. Thompson never makes the discovery, but the viewer is given a sense of closure.
However, one drawback to this approach is precisely that no difference seems to appear between a television screen and a computer screen. Baetens, in endorsing a theory by Anne-Marie Christin as well as his own views (which align rather closely with Christin’s), renders the material aspect of a screen virtually immaterial. I agree that there’s more to a screen than the technology to which it’s tied; but, nonetheless, we do see new technologies through this screen, and thus it has to have something to do with the technology itself. Utilizing Maynard’s definition for his argument may cause some of the problem here, because a screen might constitute more than “a surface with a symbol.” His definition also clearly encompasses more than I’d care to discuss (windows, maps, playing cards, etc.), which enters into metaphorical areas of screen culture and thus guide him even further from any discussion of possible physical connections between screen and culture.
Overall, however, I do like the fact that the theory links screens with visual elements, and with the act of looking at something. This is the only source I have that explicitly examines the concept of a screen, and I think it would provide a good background (and healthy opposition to) my own ideas on what a screen is in different media. His idea of screen-thinking, or a dialogue on thoughts about screen, as a technology whereby several meanings are constructed at once, holds much relevance (and much potential discussion!) for ideas about the place of the screen as a one-way or multiple-way medium of information release.
This article, focused specifically on Mario Puzo’s book, The Godfather, on which the film is based, and Puzo, who also did the screenplay for the film version, addresses the concerns and criticisms of the book. Firstly, the article states that the greatest criticism of the book is that it is too realistic, but it is argued in the article that this is in fact its best quality. Puzo should be praised for “making the outrageous plausible.” The trick, as described, in making Don Vito a likeable character is a strength, for example, because it creates a depth and complexity to the character.
The article continues with an extensive discussion as to whether or not Don Corleone is a barbarian where barbarian is a place between nature and civilization. He is not completely wild, and yet he is closer to his emotions and basic instincts than others. Yet he is still capable of complete reason, particularly when he is in the process of making a decision, as this stands out as a time when he clearly thinks things through.
Further, there follows a discussion as to whether the American dream, and American justice are dead within the movie. The article questions if this is one of the very bases of the movie considering certain symbols. They use the example of a character’s name to suggest it as a symbol that these are dying and something or someone will eventually have to come and fill their place.Don Corleone is then depicted as a god-like character, as it is stated, “ ‘Don Corleone had no desire, no intention, of letting his youngest son be killed in the service of a power foreign to himself.’ These words suggest not only the loyalty which a baron expects of his vassal, but the submission a god demands of his creation.” This very depiction of Don Corleone puts a very different emphasis on family than the remainder of the film. Because although Corleone loves his sone, his greater concern is with power and control.