22.4.09

The Meaning of 'Rosebud'


You remember how in that great scene from 'Citizen Kane' the glass snow jar thing (what are those things called?) slips from Kane's lifeless hand to role on the floor and he breathes the one word 'Rosebud' and dies? Well reading the incomparable Simon Callow's first volume biography of Orson Welles- 'The Road to Xanadu' it turns out that Randolph Hearst, the monstrous newspaperman on whom Kane is based, referred to his mistress Marion Davies's pudenda as 'rosebud.' Now dear reader, tell me Heart of Balance blog doesn't pluck facts from the trembling lyre strings of history for your amusement!


What?


What's a pudenda? Ye gods you do not want to know.


But Rosebud? The name in fact comes from the co-writer Herman Mankiewicz who in his youth had a bike named pudenda, I mean rosebud. What kind of kid calls his bike rosebud?

Is it the greatest film ever made? Well there ain't such a thing. At that level of supernal artistic achievement it's how the work touches the very soul of the viewer. And we are all touched differently. That's the miracle of the Shakespearean Sonnets-how they universalise emotional life.


It may well be the finest American film ever made, though David Thompson recently said it might be the most overrated  American film ever made-it's probably both those things.  But it also just might be one of the most insightful studies of the corrupting nature of power. That's not so bad considering it was Welles's first film.  And it changed film-making forever.
Oh and the meaning of 'rosebud'?  Well it was the name of Kane's full-suspension mountain bike!  Wasn't it?

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