The Significance of Lighting, Blocking and Panning in Kane’s Declaration of Principles

analytical Essay
898 words
898 words

In cinema, lighting, blocking and panning drastically influence what an audience will notice and take away from a scene. Orson Welles’s 1941 Citizen Kane has numerous examples of effectively using these aspects within mise-en-scène, cinematography and editing to portray the importance of specific events and items in the film. The scene where Kane writes and then publishes his “Declaration of Principles” (37:42-39:42) in the New York Daily Inquirer after buying them focuses on important elements of the film, aiding the audience by combining lighting, blocking and panning to define significant roles and objects that further the movie as a whole.

Mise-en-scène, what the audience sees in a film, is crucial to the movie’s development. Lighting and props are two of the many important aspects of this category. The previously mentioned scene has the goal of representing Kane’s early ideology of what the New York Daily Inquirer will become and provide for its readers. While writing the document, Welles constantly uses lighting to illuminate it for the audience, naturally drawing eyes to the paper even before it is introduced in the film. The lighting of the scene helps viewers identify the document’s value, especially in comparison to Kane as he tends to be less lit then the paper for the majority of scene. The other three cast members, Leland, Bernstein and briefly Sully, continue to be lit but almost never to the magnitude of the paper itself. The first cut of the scene shows Kane writing the document from outside; where a burning gas lamp is the key lighting, allowing the audience to easily notice both the flame and the paper. In the following cut, Kane continually looks at the paper and the gas flame as to signify their imp...

... middle of paper ... After following Kane’s movement the eye naturally moves to the glowing piece of paper that appears almost legible. Panning shots such as these allow an audience the ability to follow significant attributes in scenes.

Mise-en-scène, cinematography and editing are used in all forms of cinema. Within the “Declaration of Principles” scene of Citizen Kane, lighting, blocking and panning are three of the main sub aspects that work in unison to consistently demonstrate important aspects of the film. Welles uses these attributes to portray to the audience how this younger Kane is an important newspaper owner, with an even more important document. He creates a scene that has a heavy emphasis on panning to continuously preserve a frame that centers Kane while also lighting the document so viewers can constantly see the important plot and characters of the movie.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how lighting, blocking, and panning influence what an audience notices and takes away from a scene in orson welles' 1941 citizen kane.
  • Analyzes how welles uses lighting and props to represent kane's early ideology of what the new york daily inquirer will become and provide for its readers.
  • Analyzes how the use of blocking, an attribute of cinematography, is used very effectively in this scene. the inclusion of chairs pays tribute to the lesser roles of both leland and bernstein.
  • Analyzes how the lighting doesn't illuminate kane as much as the supporting cast, allowing the declaration of principles to be the main focus.
  • Analyzes how panning allows a quick and fluent flow of action to each cut and change of frame and helps the audience pay attention to the characteristics of each role and prop in the scene.
  • Analyzes how welles uses mise-en-scène, cinematography, and editing in the "declaration of principles" scene of citizen kane.
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