The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996)

battle over citizen kane dvd cover documentary
8.5 Overall Score

Interesting story that adds layers to a classic movie

Pretty basic style of documentary

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Battle Over Citizen Kane

Studio:   Lennon Documentary Group

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  January 29, 1996

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

battle over citizen kane orson welles comes to hollywood

Welcome to Hollywood, Orson…you’re about to get rolled!

Orson Welles was an up-and-coming star in 1939.  When he creates a film called Citizen Kane which borrows (and mocks) aspects of the life of William Randolph Hearst, the paper magnet sets his targets on Welles…and sets out to destroy him and the film.  Citizen Kane was destined to become a classic, but William Randolph Hearst attempts to shut down the film and Welles became the stuff of Hollywood legend.

Directed by Michael Epstein and Tomas Lennon, The Battle of Citizen Kane is a documentary picture.  The film originally was aired as part of PBS’s The American Experience series and was well received by critics.  The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Feature Documentary.

battle over citizen kane william randolph hearst documentary

You want a fight, Welles? You got it!

Citizen Kane not only is one of the best if not the best film of all times, but it also is amazing that it was ever seen.  This documentary explores the lives of both William Randolph Hearst and Orson Welles and by comparing and contrasting the two larger than life figures who are characters themselves, the movie presents a compelling story.

It is hard to watch Citizen Kane without knowing some of this story.  Charles Foster Kane’s path is so similar to William Randolph Hearst’s path and knowing some of the story really enriches Citizen Kane…because it almost feels like you are watching a gossip rag.  Here, William Randolph Hearst’s successes and failures are played out to help you understand Citizen Kane.

battle over citizen kane documentary orson welles directing

A masterpiece in jeopardy!

The documentary pairs the history of Hearst with the rise of Orson Welles.  Through a very convincing argument, the movie shows how Welles and Hearst’s similarities lead to the conflict.  Both were arrogant, both were too smart for their own good…and it led to fireworks.

The real winner when watching The Battle Over Citizen Kane is the viewer.   It takes an already classic movie and adds even more layers to it.  How much was Welles just prodding the beast in picking on Hearst?  Was Hearst only defending his wife or was he enraged by his portrayal?  How did the movie survive to become what is often cited as the greatest movie ever made?  It is all a fun ride that the documentary tries to answer and does a good job in its attempt.

Related Links:

Citizen Kane (1941)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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