on Narrative within Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941) and Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950)

Known as two of the greatest films of the mid 20th century, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane and Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon share distinct similarities and differences that highlight “narrative” as they lay the groundwork for new interpretations on how stories can be told on the screen. Both films throw new, exciting plot devices into cinematic language. Both providing tilted, subjective and often times perverse and contradictory versions of the same events that lead us through the stories. What I mean is: Citizen Kane, a morally political film, often uses populism (the common man must rise up and form a union to overthrow the clutches of big government) in order to deceive the audience into letting Kane rise to power; therefore providing a subjective view that ultimately leads to Kane’s downfall. While in Rashomon; one character claims they’ve found a body in the woods, while others influence the narrative by offering different, subjective points of view to the same incident. This is all to say: narrative, as well as its narrator, is highly important in the execution of telling a story, and shows a natural flaw in ourselves that we may never be purely unbiased; that our own stories and historical accuracies are of the utmost importance as storytellers. Knowing this provides insight into why filmmakers like Welles and Kurosawa received millions to make their pictures as they provide their own perspective to making it: not Joe Shmo. (Joe’s my neighbor! Good guy.) Both films show us that man is only interested in himself, so much so that he’d go to extremes like ruining his only home in the pursuit of temporary well-being. To be able to influence within the narrative is critical, otherwise you’ve lost your audience.