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Citizen Kane has been lauded by critics as the greatest American film of all-time, but should that make it a mandatory part of American students’ curriculum?

Michael Pinto of the beloved Fanboy.com was enraged when he recently met a “college bound liberal arts student” that hadn’t seen Orson Welles’ masterpiece, a film that topped AFI’s 100 Years … 100 movies list. Pinto was shocked that any American could graduate high school without having seen the film, which got him to thinking that the American schooling system should require students to watch it before graduating.

“There are so many reasons to teach this film — the screenplay alone is a great example of theater, a play with a rightful place in every English class alongside every other classic from Shakespeare to Arthur Miller,” Pinto said. He continued, “What’s wonderful about Citizen Kane is that it’s a film about all of the universal themes like love, greed and hope — yet it’s also a wonderful period piece about the history of the United States.”

Now, I don’t agree with Pinto’s statement that, “you can’t understand the character of our country unless you’ve seen this film.” I didn’t see Citizen Kane until I was in college and I still feel that I had a pretty decent grasp on what drives our country. The answer is money, right? But I think that Pinto may be onto something when he says, “Citizen Kane should be used to teach the subject of American history — it touches on so many topics that were critical to the formation of United States after the Civil War: the gilded age, robber barons, the Spanish American War, yellow journalism, progressivism, the great depression and even the isolationism that took America into World War II.”It is an exceptional character study of the American psyche, as well as a beautifully shot film. I still think it is overrated in some regards, however.

Tell you what, I will agree that Citizen Kane be mandatory viewing for students in American History classes, but only if the study of Orson Welles’ obesity is covered in health classes. Deal, Pinto? We can push for this teaching platform in 2009 under the slogan of “All’s well who study Welles!” If you want to see more Pinto’s argument you can check it out here.

Is Citizen Kane the greatest film of all-time? Should it be taught in the American schooling system?


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