Many films come and go, and many have, as of late, made their way to HD and Blu-Ray. Yet one film stands above them all--and not just because I say so. Most cinephines agree (and I would go so far as to say that contrarians are as shoeless rubes standing before the statue of David saying, "He's got his biz-ness out!").
Citizen Kane. The greatest film ever made.
Its remastering and ascension to the highest home cinema quality is befitting indeed for its 70th anniversary, along with the requisite bonus inclusions of PBS' The Battle Over Citizen Kane and the minor masterpiece of historical fiction, RKO 281. To watch Kane (along with those bonus films, and the two commentary tracks by Peter Bogdanovich and Roger Ebert) is to know all of cinema. It is the zenith that all afterwards have tried to climb.
How then does it fit into the question of the week--an actor's body of work? It is simple: only one actor could convincingly play a character from 24 to 80, all while being 24. Naturally, I speak of Orson Welles, whose all other films combined do not add up to his acting, directing, producing, writing, and overall micromanagement of this film. In short, some actors require 10 films for greatness (Daniel Day-Lewis comes to mind as having a nearly flawless resume); yet Welles achieves--if not surpasses that greatness on the strength of Kane alone. His other acting endeavors merely add to the greatness with varying degrees of success.
Great art appears static (take note, Mr. Lucas), yet grows with the viewer. This has been my experience with Citizen Kane, and cause to watch it yearly, as it reveals new things in myself. Indeed, I wonder what the HD viewing will reveal. To be clear, there are no changes to this latest release in the film (aside from some readjustments returning the film to its intended clarity--in Berstein's office, for example, the rain has returned!) Rather, I wonder if seeing the film with extra sharpness will yield any further reflections. Yet it really isn't about the picture; it's the story.
Ultimately Kane is an haute couture funhouse mirror: the mangled, charismatic, enigmatic, loveless, lovelorn Charles Foster Kane is us--his life is all that we aspire to be... at times, anyway. His fate, his regrets are what is reflected back in that mirror, leaving us to question if it is us, or will be us, at all.
And thus, in considering a body of work, it is as it was in the film. It is as it should be: Kane, alone.