Citizen Kane: what a crappy ending!

The ongoing thread about what you hate in movies got me to thinking about how much I dislike the ending of Citizen Kane.

What the hell was Wells trying to say? Why did Wells think it necessary to reveal Rosebud to the audience, but not the reporter?

Looking on the Internet I find one page that states Rosebud is symbolic: “the dominating symbol of the need for love and acceptance in childhood.” Well, that’s what I took it to mean also, and all I can say is YAWN.

To me, a far more effective ending would have been to never reveal Rosebud at all. Now that would say something provocative.

What would it say, precisely?

If the audience never found out what ‘Rosebud’ meant, they would have felt a bit cheated. I think it was a great ending.

You don’t think there’s something a little poignant about this man of power and wealth, this captain of industry, with his sordid past of business, sex, politics and regret, pining on his deathbed for his childhood sled, his last possession before his mother basically sold him?

Man, some people are jaded. Not only is Kane a great story, Welles’ direction and staging changed the way people make movies.

Ok, so what would be your ending of the film?

Rosebud is a powerful symbol of Kane’s loss of innocence. It’s there because an audience would have a hard time accepting the mystery being unsolved after wondering about it for two hours.

At the same time, it’s explicitly stated that Rosebud doesn’t explain Kane – “It’s just another piece of the puzzle.” It’s evocative, but Kane is not intended to be explained that easily.

BTW, “Rosebud” was William Randolf Hearst’s pet name for Marion Davies’s clitoris. I have absoultely no idea how Welles or (more likely) Mankiewicz got ahold of this fact for the screenplay.

You’re missing Mood’s point. He’s not so much objecting to the sled being symbolic as to the reporters never finding out what “Rosebud”" means. Certainly it’s important for the audience to find out. All I can suppose is that this indicates that there are similar such mysteries in real life that we never DO learn the meaning of.

This probably falls into the “too good to be true” category, but I heard a rumor that Orson Welles chose the name “Rosebud” for the sled because it was the pet name William Randolph Hearst (the model for Charles Foster Kane) used for one of his mistress’ … uh … private parts. If the story is true it gives added reasons for Hearst to have hated the film (can you imagine watching the film in his company? )
All I know is that, if I ever get to remake “Citizen Kane” his words on his deathbed are gonna be “Flexible Flyer”.

That’s specifically covered in the screenplay in the line I mentioned. One reporter says (paraphrased) “I’ll bet if we found out what Rosebud meant, we’d know everything about Kane.” The reply is: “No. That’s just another piece of the puzzle.” (This idea is also alluded to when Mr. Bernstein tells his story about the girl on the ferry.)

The reporters don’t need to know what Rosebud is; they have learned about Kane from everything else (and, from a practical point of view, they can’t spend forever looking). Knowing what Rosebud is would have been interesting, but is not essential to understanding Kane.

Well, in 25 words or less… I’d think it’d say that a man - no matter his fame or wealth - dies alone, and there’s no guarantee of understanding, or cosmic pat answers, and that human life really is a complete riddle, and possibly a meaningless one at that. Or something like that. :slight_smile:

Maybe you do or don’t agree with this, but at least it’s somewhat thought-provoking. Instead we get a sermon on the beauty of childhood. Groan.

Those of you that mentioned that the audience would “feel cheated” have hit on precisely my problem with the ending. An ending that didn’t reveal Rosebud would have been admittedly damn disquieting, but I think far more intellectually honest and, frankly, more interesting.

I think Cal has missed my point. I think the “lesson” the reporter learns in his investigation is much more profound than the one the movie’s viewers get.

Anyway, I don’t think many people die wistfully thinking of their childhood toys - they die thinking “I can beat this traffic light” or saying “The nourishment is palatable” or “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…”

But maybe that’s just me. One of my favorite movie endings is from Five Easy Pieces, if that tells you anything. :slight_smile:

If you want a Wells movie with a fantastic ending, try The Third Man. You’d never been able to get that ending in a major studio pic these days.

Let’s not discuss the Magnificent Ambersons…

moodtobestewed, you need to watch a video about how Citizen Kane was made. Citizen Kane has been talked about here quite a bit. But most of it should be clearer to you if you’d watch the film about how it was made. I think that film is called: RKO-280 Im still a bit fuzzy on that but I think thats also the name of the studio that made it.

Well you like The Third Man, so I’ll be nice:

But the ending does say that. And more, even down to the “something like that”.

I always liked that one, too. The idea of abandoning Karen Black at a backwoods truck stop is powerfully attracive.

As is the idea of passing away comfortably in one’s bed with a blonde movie star’s clitoris on one’s lips.

“BTW, Rosebud was William Randolf Hearst’s pet name for Marion Davies’s clitoris. I have absoultely no idea how Welles or (more likely) Mankiewicz got ahold of this fact for the screenplay.”

Source on this, please? Exactly who was hiding under the bed? Or was this—gasp!—something made up years after the fact for a good dirty story?

[Ike, stop holding Lupe’s head in that toilet!]

But why does he show us Rosebud? It just seems to confuse the issue.

Looking around on the net, I found this line of dialogue near the end of the movie from the reporter:

“Perhaps Rosebud was something he couldn’t get or something he lost. Anyway, it wouldn’t have explained anything. I don’t think any word can explain a man’s life. No, I guess Rosebud is just a piece in a jigsaw puzzle.”

Yeah, ok, then why bring in the jigsaw piece during the climatic moment of the film and try to attach some deep symbolic meaning to it? The reporter is right - it doesn’t explain anything. So why not leave it out, Orson?

I think RealityChuck was absolutely right, nobody needs to know what Rosebud was to understand the movie - and I think the fact the Wells felt the need to tell us only undercuts the film’s dramatic impact.

Ike to Police Dep’t heavy: “I dunno what happened. It’s Neu Yoik, she musta got lost lost in the cistern.”

Ike, I’ve noticed your excellent culinary posts before. What kind of garnish would you recommend accompanying this last meal ?

The IMDB cites Gore Vidal. I’ve heard it from several sources, but don’t know if they descend from that article or not.

It’s not all that far-fetched. Mankiewicz was a close friend of Hearst and used to spend weekends at San Simeon. A few drinks and cigars after dinner and men do tend to talk about their sexual adventures.

Quite the opposite. The film would have been terribly unsatisfying (especially to 1940s audiences) if Rosebud wasn’t revealed. It’s certainly a Maguffin, but the rules of narrative are that unless you have a damn good reason, you reveal any mysteries you set up. I know when my daughter saw the film for the first time, she was strongly moved by the power of the image.

A similar problem occurred in Psycho, where Hitchcock has the psychologist explain Norman’s mania at the end, primarly to satisfy those would would be bothered by a lack of explanation. Hitchcock has made it clear that we don’t have to accept that explanation.

You mean Rosebud is a sled?? Thanks for spoiling the ending of the movie, guys. Sheesh. I guess I’ll watch something else tonight. This tape of The Crying Game looks interesting…

To me, the point of the ending is the IRONY. Kane spent millions, perhaps billions on THINGS, wanting the one elusive thing he couldn’t buy. The fact that Rosebud was one of those THINGS means he DID get it back at some point in his past, but it, like so much else in his life, was junked and went to a huge warehouse where it because another unwanted/unknown item. After Kane’s death, this item is consigned to flames, perhaps to foreshadow Kane’s soul’s own treatment?

It’s IRONIC: Rosebud, which was what his last thoughts were about, is just another piece of JUNK in his huge collection of Junk, and ends up on a bonfire with a ton of other junk.

Final meaning: It’s all pointless, you can’t take your toys with you when you die.

“BTW, Rosebud was William Randolf Hearst’s pet name for Marion Davies’s clitoris. I have
absoultely no idea how Welles or (more likely) Mankiewicz got ahold of this fact for the

                     Source on this, please? Exactly who was hiding under the bed? Or was this—gasp!—something
                     made up years after the fact for a good dirty story? "

Rosebud, the clitoris, is discussed most excellently in that film I just mentioned, RKO-280…nuts or is it RTO-280, anyway, its out on video…see it. It EXPLAINS everything.

On the Tube: HBO’s ‘RKO281’ uncovers the mysteries of movie

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