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Citizen Kane Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 12+

Classic should be required for any movie lover.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Citizen Kane is a serious, grown-up film that will have little appeal for young kids. For teens (and any older kids who shows a budding interest in the art of movie-making), however, it is the must-see portrait of an early 20th century media tycoon. Made in 1941, it's thought by some to be the best movie of all time, both for its audacious techniques and for the depth of its characterization. Several scenes show principals drinking or drunk; there is pipe, cigar, and cigarette smoking throughout. Kane's implied adulterous affair has an impact on the plot, but there is no overt sexuality and no swearing or offensive language.

  • Families can talk about how Kane used his newspaper to influence politics and stir up the public's interest in war. Do newspapers and other news media still do that?
  • Why do you think he said "Rosebud" when he died?
  • Have you ever visited Hearst Castle, which was the model for Citizen Cane's Xanadu? (An overhead shot of William Randolph Hearst's estate on the California Coast at San Simeon is shown in the film as Xanadu, where Kane lives.) It's now a California State Monument and is open to the public for tours.

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: No amount of money or possessions can ensure being loved or being happy. The deep hole in the heart of someone who feels unloved or unworthy can never be filled.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Charles Foster Kane is a classic case of a man searching for love and losing everything in his misguided efforts to find it. Seemingly idealistic and compassionate in his early adult life, he is eventually destroyed by self-destructive and delusional behavior that adversely affects everyone he appears to care about.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: Two brief incidents: Kane slaps his wife; and in a moment of fury he wrecks everything in the room.

  • sex false0

    Sex: The discovery of his affair ends Kane's marriage and upends his political aspirations. No scenes of a sexual nature.

  • language false0

    Language: Not applicable

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Leading characters are drunk in two sequences. Several other scenes show characters drinking alcoholic beverages. Smoking (pipe, cigar, cigarettes) appears occasionally throughout.