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Orson Welles' 100th birthday celebrated at Vancouver theatre

05/14/2015 11:12 EDT | Updated 05/14/2016 05:59 EDT
Orson Welles, the film giant who revolutionized cinema and made what has often been hailed as one of the greatest films of all time, would have turned 100 years old this year.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Welles' birth, Vancity Theatre in Vancouver will not only be showing Citizen Kane, it will also feature other classics like Touch of Evil. Welles' lesser known work and tributes by other filmmakers will also be screened.

Year after year, Welles' 1941 epic Citizen Kane is hailed as one of the best films ever made. Vancity Theatre film programmer Tom Charity spoke with The Early Edition about why.

Note: This interview has been condensed for online. 

What was so exceptional about Citizen Kane?

When it was first released in 1942, the film was immediately recognized by critics as a landmark in cinema history.

It's the story of a tycoon, a powerful publisher, and it's his life story pieced together by a journalist after the man, [Charles Foster Kane] had died, and he's investigating Kane's last words, which were the mysterious "Rosebud."

It was told in a very novel way with seven different perspectives on the man. But also formerly, it was completely different from anything people had seen before. The way Kane was shot by the cinematographer Gregg Toland was full of dynamic, beautifully, intricately-choreographed camera moves, lots of long takes, lots of deep focus."

Do you remember the first time you watched it?

Like a lot of other people, I watched it at film school at college.

I fell in love with Orson Welles as a teenager before I went to college through TV.

He spoke to me because he seemed to be such an almost apotheosis of an artist, a maverick, an independent. You can look at any 30-second clip and recognize Orson Welles' style because it's so much style. He has immense charisma and I think that's very attractive to a young person."

Citizen Kane is talked about a lot in film schools, critic circles, people who study film. Do you think it has resonance at a more popular level?

One of the events we're doing at Vancity Theatre is a screening of Kane with a panel to kind of discuss that very question. Instead of putting academics and critics on the panel, we've decided to go a different route.

I'm really interested in whether the film still remains relevant to us today and whether it's a received classic or whether it's something that we're taught to respect, whether it actually still plays to a modern audience in 21st century.

I believe it does. It's really an invigorating piece of work. It's full of great wit, great charisma and just the kind of intellectual excitement of the film, I think, sings loud and clear to this day.

Welles 100 runs from May 14 to June 25 at Vancity Theatre and the Cinematique.

To hear the full interview with Tom Charity, listen to the audio labelled: Celebrating cinema great Orson Welles 

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