Citizen Kane's reputation as one of the greatest films of all time 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? Laura Mulvey, in a fresh and original reading, illuminates the richness of the film, both thematically and stylistically, relating it to Welles's political background and its historical context. In a lucid and perceptive critique she also investigates the psychoanalytic structure that underlies the film's presentation of Kane's biography, for once taking seriously what Orson Welles himself disparagingly referred to as 'dollar-book Freud.'
In her foreword to this special edition, published to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the BFI Film Classics series, Laura Mulvey focuses on the film's politics, highlighting the contemporary 'rhymes' in Kane's portrayal of a scandal-prone press baron in a time of economic crisis.
LAURA MULVEY is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of Fetishism and Curiosity (1996), Death Twenty-four Times a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image (2006), and Visual and Other Pleasures (2nd edition, 2010).
I'm a Brooklyn-based designer, probably best known for my design work with the Criterion Collection, my graphic novel Liar's Kiss or my (currently neglected) process blog Cozy Lummox [ericskillman.blogspot.com].
Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of citizen kane?
This design is a drawing of Kane's classic campaign poster, rendered in a style I've developed over the years to highlight an image's iconic qualities. Kane spends so much of the film building up the mythology of himself, rendering him as the noble icon he aspires to be seemed appropriate. And hopefully the handmade, slightly ‘off’ quality of the image hints at the complexity of the man underneath. (The film itself is also, of course, a monumental icon in film history, so the style was appropriate for that reason as well.)
What is your earliest film memory?
Hmmm… probably the dun dada-da-dun, dun dun dun John Williams score to Superman: The Movie.
What inspires you?
I try to let my inspiration for a given project come from whatever the project is – in this case, the great Citizen Kane. (That said, this drawing style is also a bit inspired by Egon Schiele, Art Chantry, Ted McKeever, and plenty more…).
What are you working on now?
Currently working on: a couple Criterion covers, a concert poster, a cookbook, and a few comics-writing and -coloring projects.