One approaches Citizen Kane slowly because of the enormous reputation that surrounds it like the vast fields, cages, and lagoons that lead up to Xanadu. Almost no one sees it for the first time without being over-prepared for it. All the plaudits, all the scholarly works, all the pop culture references—they sprawl about the film itself, always threatening to make it into the kind of museum piece Charles Foster Kane would have boxed up in Europe and shipped back to the states, never to see again. Sure, the film has lasted over seventy years, but so what? The relative youth of cinema (only about 114 years) gives us a trivial view of eternity. As Kane's director once said in another of his films, most of our art is destined to fall into the “universal ash.” Citizen Kane may yet become just another forgotten artifact.
But for now Kane still lives, and what an amazing film it turns out to be after the fifth, the tenth, the twentieth viewing. I lost count a long time ago how many times I’ve seen this movie—hell, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it projected in a theater—yet more than most other movies it continues to fascinate me. Perhaps more importantly, it continues it entertain me.