Interview (Video): Orson Welles

The famous 1960 Paris conversation is back online!

Over the years, I have featured snippets of this interview as they popped up online, then vanished as here, but I have never seen the entire 1960 Paris interview online… until now! It’s a fascinating conversation with one of the true cinematic geniuses of his era if only because of Citizen Kane.

At the 22:30 minute mark, Welles reveals that the idea of ‘home’ is very important to him because as a child, his family moved multiple times, so he never really had what he would call a home. Second, he confesses that his least favorite thing about Citizen Kane was Rosebud — he calls it a “rather tawdry device.”

May I humbly disagree. First, Rosebud serves numerous narrative functions: framing device for the narrative, source of a mystery as well as eventually the key to solving it, the sled and the snow globe powerful visual devices, taking on talismanic significance.

But beyond that, I wonder if Welles is doing a bit of deflection here. In response to the interviewer’s question, “Is there anything that came out of that [i.e., Welles’ family moving around so much] in the movie,” Welles offers a definitive no. But isn’t ‘home’ what Rosebud — the sled / snow globe — represents to Kane, that one time and one place where he was truly happy, his youthful winter wonderland, he and his friends, sledding in the snow, only to be yanked out of there by life’s sudden turn? And so isn’t it fair to think that Welles’ desire to have a single place he could call home (he says so point blank in the interview) is reflected in the experience of young Charles Foster Kane? Therefore, Rosebud can be seen to be much more than a “tawdry device,” it is precisely the whole point of Kane’s existence, constantly attempting in all his life endeavors to find some thing, some place he could call ‘home.’ Yet he could never satisfy that almost infantile need, which is why it’s so riveting to see him wandering the halls of Xanadu on the night of his death, clutching the snow globe, then offering up his final word, “Rosebud.”

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