Study Guide

Citizen Kane Summary

Citizen Kane Summary

  

We open the movie with a long panning shot of a huge castle mansion with a big fence around it. Then for some reason, we see two monkeys hanging out at the top of the fence, which makes us wonder where this castle is located. A quick shot inside the house shows us the mouth of an old man who whispers "rosebud"...before dropping a snow globe and dying.

Yes—this is one of the most enigmatic and confusing openings to a movie ever.

A newsreel flashes across the screen and tells us all about the life and death of Charles Foster Kane, the dude we just saw die. Apparently, Kane was a super rich dude who used to own a newspaper empire that spanned the entire United States. But now he's dead and the news reporters want to find out what he meant by saying "rosebud" as his last word. 

(Any guesses?)

The news boss tells a reporter named Thompson to investigate the issue so they'll have something unique to put into their newsreel.

Thompson sets out to interview the people who were closest to Charles Foster Kane. First up? A library where he can read the diary of Walter Parks Thatcher, the man who was Kane's legal guardian until he reached legal maturity. In the diary, Thatcher tells the story of how Kane's mother sent him away from home when he was just a boy. She had come into a lot of money and didn't want Kane's upbringing to be spoiled by her abusive husband. 

Thatcher's diary then tells the story of how Kane grew up to be a rebellious fool who just wanted to use his fortune to attack the wealthy class of America. Thatcher saw this as class warfare from a young communist. Ah, politics.

When he's done reading Thatcher's diary, Thompson visits Mr. Bernstein, a guy who served as Kane's right hand man when he took over his first newspaper, the New York Inquirer. Unlike Thatcher, Bernstein is sympathetic toward Kane and says that he was once one of the greatest men in America. But (yeah, there's always a but), he also admits that Kane let his pride get the best of him, especially when he ran for governor and ended up destroying his public reputation by having an affair with a woman named Susan Alexander.

Yowza.

After talking to Bernstein, Thompson goes to visit Kane's ex-best friend, Jedediah Leland. Leland tells the story of how Kane went from a young idealist to a bitter old egomaniac that tried to use his fortune to force people to love him. Over the years, Leland tried to point out Kane's faults, but Kane eventually fired him for disloyalty.

After marrying Susan Alexander, Kane decided to put all his energy and money into making her a famous singer. But the plot doesn't work—do plots ever work?—because Susan just doesn't have the talent. Eventually, she gets him to give upon the scheme and they move together to Kane's giant castle mansion in Florida called Xanadu.

Guess where Thompson goes next. Yep: to visit Susan Alexander and ask her about the time she spent with Kane living at Xanadu. Susan dishes, saying it was a life of total isolation and boredom. In fact, she got so fed up with Kane that she left him. He threw a total fit and whispered the word "rosebud" after she had gone.

What. Does. This. Word. Mean. It. Is. Killing. Us.

At the end of the movie, Thompson visits Xanadu to speak with Kane's butler Raymond. Like every other stinkin' person in the movie, he has no clue what Kane meant by saying the word "rosebud" at his death. Thompson finally gives up and decides that he'll never find out. Plus, he figures that even if he found out, it probably wouldn't bring the closure everyone wanted.

In the movie's final shot, we get a look at a room full of Kane's old possessions. Among these is "Rosebud," the sled that Kane owned as a child. A little anti-climactic? Maybe. But it at least closes the loop, letting us in on the fact that Kane was thinking of his lost childhood when he died. 

But...he's dead now.

And as the movie ends, a mover picks up the sled and tosses it into an incinerator.

So yeah: now we're good and depressed.

  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • We open with a sign that says "No Trespassing" on a chain link fence. The camera slowly pans upward and we can see that the fence is incredibly high.
    • Beyond the fence, we see a giant mansion/castle-like building. For some reason, there are two monkeys hanging out on top of the fence, which makes us wonder if this mansion is in some tropical location.
    • We see two boats on water, then another shot of the mansion. An old sign tells us that there was once a golf course around the home. There is only one light on in the whole gigantic building.
    • We look in on the light and see a bunch of snow. But it's just the snow inside a snow globe. A man in a bed utters the word "rosebud" before dropping the snow globe and letting it break on the floor. A nurse runs into the bedroom to check on the man.
    • Next thing you know, the nurse is pulling the man's sheets over his head. It looks like he's died.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • A sudden transition shows us an old-timey newsreel called "News on the March." We see an obituary for a man who once built a giant mansion called "Xanadu" after the mystical location found in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, "Kubla Kahn."
    • The place represents pure wealth and a life of pleasure.
    • Apparently, there are enough valuable objects in the mansion to fill ten museums. The place also has a huge private zoo, which explains the monkeys in the first scene.
    • Well, it turns out that the owner of Xanadu, Charles Foster Kane, died in bed. So that's probably our guy from scene #1.
    • The newsreel tells us that Kane was the biggest newspaper tycoon of the 20th century. He also owned a bunch of paper mills, grocery stores, etc.
    • During the newsreel, we look in on a room full of old white dudes discussing how Charles Foster Kane first came into fortune.
    • One man tells the story of how he believes Charles Foster Kane is a communist because he has spent his life attacking the right to private property. But according to the working people of the U.S. Kane was the exact opposite—a fascist. So go figure.
    • In all his life, Kane ran in many elections but never managed to win one. At one point, it looked like Kane was going to become governor of Florida. But he was caught in a sex scandal just a week before his election and his political career went up in flames.
    • During the Great Depression , a bunch of Kane's newspapers went bankrupt.
    • During an interview, Kane is asked about his predictions regarding a war in Europe.
    • He guarantees there will be no war because it couldn't possibly benefit any of the countries involved. Little does he know that he'll turn out to be dead wrong on this, because the war turns out to be World War I.
    • Apparently, Kane spent the final years of his life watching his empire crumble. He lived alone and couldn't get the public to listen to him.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • When the newsreel stops, a room full of men try to figure out how they can change the newsreel to make it more entertaining. One man suggests that they change the title.
    • After all, everyone already knows that Charles Kane is dead. So the reel has to add something new.
    • The guy (Mr. Ralston) wants to know what Kane's final words were. Apparently, the last word he ever said was, "rosebud." The guy wants to know what Kane meant by this word, so he asks his men to investigate what it could possibly mean.
    • So now, we've got a nice mystery powering its way through this movie: what does "rosebud" mean?
    • We look in on a woman named Miss Alexander (Charles Kane's ex-wife) who's crying in a restaurant. Another man named Mr. Thompson sits down with her to ask her some questions. She yells at him to go away.
    • Thompson gets on a phone and tells his boss that Alexander won't say a word about Kane or anything else. Before leaving, Thompson asks a waiter about "rosebud," and the waiter confirms that the former Mrs. Kane has never heard of anyone or anything called "rosebud."
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • Mr. Thompson heads over to a library to look at the diary of a man called "Walter Parks Thatcher." The secretary gives him some strict rules that he must follow while looking at the diary.
    • Thompson sits down and reads from the diary, where Thatcher talks of how he first met Charles Kane in 1871 at his mother's boarding house.
    • We flash back to 1871, where Charles Kane's mother signs some papers with Mr. Thatcher. Apparently, one of the old tenants at her boarding house tried to pay her with mining rights that were supposed to be worthless.
    • Well, now it turns out they're not and that Mrs. Kane has a lot of money. But another condition of her getting the money is that the bank will take her son Charles away and raise him as it sees fit until he turns 21. At this time, he'll come into full possession of his fortune.
    • Mrs. Kane goes outside with Mr. Thatcher and tells little Charles that he needs to go away with Mr. Thatcher to live with him.
    • Charles takes his winter sled and shoves it into Mr. Thatcher, knocking the man down. Then Charles tries to run away but his mom catches him. Mr. Kane thinks his son needs a good beating… and this is exactly why Mrs. Kane wants to get Charles as far away from his father as possible.
    • We hear the train heading away from the Kane house while snow collects on the top of Charles' old sled. In the next cut, we see Charles getting a brand new sled from Mr. Thatcher for Christmas.
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • Mr. Thatcher paces in an office dictating to his secretary. He says that on Charles Kane's 25th birthday, he'll become completely independent from the bank and receive the world's 6th largest private fortune.
    • Charles Kane (now all grown up) writes back to Thatcher saying he's not interested in all the mines or whatever. The only thing he cares about is a little newspaper called The Inquirer, which he'd like to run himself.
    • Next thing you know, Charles Kane is going after the rich folks of America and using his paper to expose all kinds of corruption.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • Mr. Thatcher meets with a young Charles Kane to tell him to back off on all his exposés about corruption.
    • Kane says he's sick of watching the working people of America get robbed blind by the rich just because they don't have anyone looking out for them.
    • Thatcher storms away while Kane says that he's just the man to look after the poor.
    • Before he leaves Thatcher says that Kane should give up the newspaper because he lost a million dollars on it the year before. Kane agrees with him, but if he goes on losing a million a year, it'll be sixty years before he has to close down.
    • So he's not worried about money at all.
    • We flash forward again to 1929, the beginning of the Great Depression. It looks like some of Kane's newspapers have gone bankrupt, and Mr. Thatcher is happy to be the dude from the bank who tells the news to a middle-aged Charles Kane.
    • It also looks like the Depression is wiping out a bunch of Kane's fortune.
    • Mr. Thatcher asks Kane what he'd like to have become if he hadn't gotten his fortune so young. Kane's answer is, "Everything you hate."
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • Mr. Thompson finishes reading Thatcher's diary and abruptly leaves the library. Next thing he does is visit a guy named Mr. Bernstein to ask about "rosebud."
    • Thompson doesn't buy the theory that "rosebud" is some woman who Kane might have known.
    • But Mr. Bernstein says that old men remember all kinds of stuff. He recounts the story of one day when he saw a woman in a white dress getting off a ferry. He never spoke to her and she never saw him, but there isn't a month that goes by when he doesn't think of her.
    • Bernstein called Miss Alexander the day after Kane died, but she couldn't even come to the phone.
    • Apparently, Bernstein was Kane's right-hand man from day one. Bernstein recommends that Thompson go visit a guy named Leland who went to a bunch of colleges with Charles Kane… since Kane was tossed out of every place he went.
    • Bernstein starts another flashback by talking about Leland was with Kane the first day he took over The Inquirer.
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • Charles Kane walks into The Inquirer office as a young 25-year-old man with his best friend, Mr. Leland.
    • He meets the paper's editor, Mr. Carter, and introduces himself. Meanwhile, Mr. Bernstein comes stumbling in and knocks a bunch of stuff over.
    • We see someone bring a bed frame into Mr. Carter's office, and Kane informs Carter that he plans on sleeping at the newspaper office regularly.
    • Before you know it, Charles and his buddies are driving Mr. Carter bonkers. Mr. Carter likes to run an old-fashioned newspaper that only reports on confirmed facts.
    • But Kane wants to run a paper that prints any rumor or gossip it can find because that's what people want to read.
    • Mr. Carter leaves in a huff. Back in the office, Charles Kane says he wants his paper to be as important to New York as the electricity and water supplies.
    • Kane wants to make a declaration of his paper's core values, which include telling the news honestly.
    • Leland points out that Kane is starting an awful lot of sentences with "I," meaning that he's a tad egotistical.
    • When they're done printing Kane's declaration, Leland says he'd like to have it.
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • One day, Kane takes his buddies on a field trip to the office of the New York Chronicle. Bernstein tells him the Chronicle is successful because they have the best staff in the world.
    • So Kane goes ahead and buys out the whole staff. Next thing you know, he has the biggest newspaper circulation in New York, with over 600,000 copies sold daily.
    • At a special banquet, Bernstein and Kane joke about how Kane likes to buy whatever he wants.
    • As a huge spectacle, Kane summons a huge marching band and a bunch of showgirls to entertain his newspaper staff. He says that the U.S. will go to war with Spain any day now. In this case, he's talking about the Spanish-American War.
    • A guy in a straw hat comes to the front of the showgirls and sings a special song about Charles Kane's many virtues.
    • During this whole party, it's clear that Kane's best friend Leland isn't happy about Kane's ego running wild.
    • Leland is worried that instead of Kane changing his new writing staff's opinions, they'll change his without him knowing it.
  • Scene 10

    Scene 10

    • Mr. Bernstein runs into a room where Mr. Leland is going through all the crazy stuff that Charles Kane has bought in Europe and sent back to America. Now it sounds like Kane wants to buy the world's biggest diamond.
    • Leland feels like a prude for the way he's always tut tutting Charles' spending habits. And when he asks Bernstein if he's stuck up, Bernstein answers yes.
    • When Charles Kane returns to America, he gives the secretary a brief note and runs off. The note says that Charles is now engaged to a woman named Emily Norton.
    • She's actually the niece of the President of the United States. The gang watches as Kane and Norton ride off in a carriage.
    • We flash back to the present, where Bernstein reminds us that things didn't work out between Kane and Norton.
    • Bernstein mentions that by the end of his life, Kane had lost nearly everything. Maybe "rosebud" is the name of something he lost in the process.
    • Bernstein thinks it might be a good idea for Thompson to speak with Kane's former best friend, Mr. Leland. The two of them had a falling out over the Spanish-American War, which Kane supported in his newspaper.
  • Scene 11

    Scene 11

    • Thompson goes to see Kane's old friend, Leland. Leland says that Kane was never a brutal man. He just did brutal things.
    • Leland claims that Kane never believed in anything but himself, despite all the opinions he printed in his paper.
    • Unfortunately, Leland can't tell Thompson much about "rosebud" because he doesn't know what it means. He offers to tell Thompson more about Kane's first wife Emily instead.
    • He says that after the first few months of marriage, Emily and Charles never saw much of each other. But for Leland, there's nothing unusual about this.
    • We flash back to scenes between Kane and Emily. It doesn't take long for Emily to complain about the amount of time Kane spends working at the newspaper.
    • Before long, Emily starts arguing with Charles about the things his paper says about her uncle, the President.
    • Kane thinks her uncle is running a big scam with a bunch of crooks.
    • Over time, we can see Charles getting more brooding. Finally, Emily mentions what people might think of Charles, and he famously answers that they'll think, "What I tell them to think."
    • Before you know it, Charles and Emily read the papers without saying a word to each other.
    • Back in the present, Leland says that Kane did everything in life for love. He wanted everyone in the world to admire and love him, except he didn't have any love to give to anyone but himself.
  • Scene 12

    Scene 12

    • Now Leland turns to Kane's second wife, Susan Alexander.
    • The night he meets his second wife, Kane is out on the street and Susan is goofy after taking toothache medicine.
    • She laughs at Kane when he gets splashed with mud.
    • She asks if Kane needs any hot water, since she lives just nearby. Kane agrees and follows her into her apartment. When he closes the door, Susan reopens it because it's her landlady's strict rule for her to leave the door open when there's a man with her.
    • Kane tries to distract Susan from her headache by wiggling his ears. Then he makes shadow puppets with his hands.
    • Kane likes the fact that Susan enjoys his company even though she has no clue who he is.
    • Kane tells Susan that before he ran into her, he was on his way to a Manhattan storage warehouse to look through all the things his mother left behind when she died. He wants to make a sentimental journey back in time.
    • Kane asks Susan how old she is and she answers that she's twenty-two. She used to want to be a singer. Kane asks her if she'd sing for him and she does. He's totally blown away.
  • Scene 13

    Scene 13

    • We look in on Charles Kane as he runs for governor of New York. We see him at the front of a huge rally. He rants about how he's the friend of the workingman and the underprivileged.
    • His wife Emily and his son are in one of the balconies. So yeah, it looks like Kane spent an evening with Susan Alexander while he was still married to Emily.
    • As Kane brings his speech to a triumphant close, a dude up in the balcony puts on his hat and leaves.
    • After the rally, Emily sends their son off in a car. Then Emily gets into a taxi and Kane wants to know where she's going. Emily has received some sort of anonymous message telling her to go to a certain address.
    • When the maid answers the door, she calls Mr. Kane by name. Kane and his wife Emily go upstairs and run into Susan Alexander, who says she was blackmailed to send the letter to Mrs. Kane.
    • Standing behind Susan is Jim Gettys, the man who's running against Kane for governor. Gettys wants Kane to withdraw from the governor's race or he'll publish the story about Kane's affair.
    • Emily says that Charles will withdraw from the governor's race immediately. But Charles refuses, even though he knows it'll destroy his family.
    • Gettys walks away calmly while Kane chases after him and screams at him.
  • Scene 14

    Scene 14

    • The day after Kane's run-in with Gettys, we see the story of his affair on the front-page news. When they know he'll lose the election, his newspaper prints a story saying there was fraud at the polling stations.
    • Kane walks alone in his newspaper office and runs into Leland, who is drunk. There are sagging party streamers hanging from everything in the office, which reminds us that Kane's victory speech was a little premature.
    • Kane knows that he's set back the cause of reform in the U.S. for many years.
    • Leland accuses Kane of treating "the people" as his property, as though he could give them their freedom like it was a gift.
    • But the workingman is about to step up and demand his rights and not expect people like Kane to give it to them.
    • Leland says that he would like to go work on Kane's Chicago paper, and Kane eventually lets him go.
    • Kane toasts to "Love on my own terms" because he thinks "Those are the only terms any man will ever know—his own." Kane is convinced that love is only worthwhile if it's completely on your own terms and if you can control it.
  • Scene 15

    Scene 15

    • Not long after his big affair scandal, Charles Kane divorces his wife Emily and marries Susan Alexander.
    • He thinks she'll be a big opera star, but he ends up having to build her an opera house just to give her a place to sing. No one else will take her.
    • Next thing you know, Susan has singing coaches yelling at her and putting her under all kinds of stress.
    • The curtain comes up and Susan starts singing. Meanwhile, two men up in the rafters look at each other and one of them pinches his nose to say that Susan stinks.
  • Scene 16

    Scene 16

    • Charles' writing staff at The Inquirer talks about the positive review they're going to give Susan Alexander's singing performance on the front page of the paper.
    • But Leland hasn't finished writing his piece yet, so Kane goes to see him. Bernstein informs the writing staff that Kane and Leland haven't spoken for years.
    • Bernstein follows Kane into Leland's office, where Leland is passed out over his typewriter with a half-empty bottle of liquor next to him. Kane tells him to close the door.
    • Kane wants to know what Leland has written, so Bernstein stoops over the typewriter to read it. Leland has totally panned Kane's new wife and her abilities.
    • Kane asks for a typewriter so he can finish Leland's notice in the paper. When Leland wakes up, he finds out that Kane is finishing Leland's review just the way Leland wanted it—scathing and negative.
    • When Leland heads out to the office, Kane fires him.
    • Back in the present, Thompson asks Leland why Kane would have finished his notice as a negative review. Leland says Kane did it to prove he was an honest man, since he was always trying to prove one thing or another.
    • Years later, Kane wrote to Leland when he was old and living alone in his mansion. But Leland never answered the letter.
    • Before Thompson leaves, Leland asks him to smuggle him some cigars into his hospital because his doctor won't let him have any. Then some nurses lead him away.
  • Scene 17

    Scene 17

    • Back at Susan Alexander's club, it looks like Thompson has gotten her to talk. She almost wishes she had never sung for Charles Kane the first time she met him.
    • Susan says that she was never interested in having her own opera house. Everything was always Charles' idea.
    • We flash back to Susan's life with Charles. Charles waits in the doorway, while Susan's voice coach aggressively coaches her through her singing.
    • When she's finished, the instructor says Susan will never be a good singer.
    • But Kane tells him to shut up and keep instructing her. The man is worried he'll be the laughingstock of the musical world if he keeps trying to coach Susan—a lost cause in his mind.
    • Then we flash right back to the opera scene we saw Susan Alexander in earlier in the movie (remember when the stagehand held his nose?).
    • Out in the audience, Charles Kane watches Susan sing. Somewhere else in the audience, we see Leland preparing to write his scathing review.
    • Later on, we see the people in the audience bored out of their minds. But Charles is still fixed on his new wife, even as he hears people nearby laugh at how horrible she is.
    • When it's all over, people clap politely. Kane claps extra hard and stands up even as other people let their applause die off.
  • Scene 18

    Scene 18

    • Charles Kane sits at home while Susan screams at him for the review that his "friend" Leland wrote about her in The Inquirer. Little does she know that Kane actually wrote half of the thing.
    • A messenger comes with a message from Jed Leland. The envelope contains some torn up paper and the old copy of Kane's Declaration of Principles. Kane calls the document an "antique" and tears it up.
    • Kane tells Susan to go back to her singing because that's what he wants. He also says he's sick and tired of explaining his reasons for doing the things he does.
    • Some newspaper titles fly across the screen and suggest that Susan's reviews are getting better. But we have to wonder how many of these papers are owned by Charles Kane.
  • Scene 19

    Scene 19

    • We see Susan lying in bed with a bottle of medicine on the nightstand. She seems to have a hard time breathing and doesn't acknowledge the bedroom door when people pound on it from outside. Charles busts in and runs to her bedside, telling a servant to run for the doctor.
    • The doctor arrives and tells Charles that Susan will be fine in a few days. Charles tells the doctor he isn't sure what made his wife make such a "mistake." In other words, he refuses to believe that Susan might have attempted suicide. Or at least he won't acknowledge it to the doctor.
    • When Susan wakes up, she tells Charles that she tried to commit suicide because she couldn't stand being on stage when the audience doesn't want her there. But Kane tells her that this is exactly the time when a person needs to fight.
    • After he looks at Susan for a while, Charles decides that he won't try to make her sing anymore.
  • Scene 20

    Scene 20

    • Charles walks in on Susan while she's putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle in a huge empty room in Kane's Xanadu mansion.
    • Susan says she might go crazy without someone to talk to or have fun with. She wishes she were in the hustle and bustle of New York City. She wants to have fun and be with people.
    • Charles will hear nothing of it though. In his mind, Xanadu is their home and they should be satisfied with it.
    • Now we get a montage showing Susan putting her puzzle together. It's all so boring it makes you want to go crazy… and Susan feels the same way.
    • Later on, Charles comes back downstairs and asks Susan if they can go on a picnic the next day. As they drive to the Florida seaside, Susan tells him he never gives her anything she really cares about.
    • She continues the same speech in their picnic tent, saying that Charles wants everyone to love him and that's what his money is all about. She only stops when Charles slaps her in the face.
    • Susan tells Charles not to tell her he's sorry, but Charles says he isn't sorry at all for hitting her.
    • Next thing you know, Susan is packing her things. Charles storms into her room and tells her she's crazy for leaving him while they have all kinds of guests in the house. She doesn't care about what they think, though.
    • Charles makes one last effort to keep Susan around by promising her whatever she wants on her own terms. But he makes the mistake of ending with "You can't do this to me." Once again, he's shown that everything in his life is all about him. Susan can tell by his language that he hasn't changed, so she leaves.
  • Scene 21

    Scene 21

    • We return to the movie's present, where Mr. Thompson is speaking to Susan in her nightclub. She mentions that she has lost all her money in the Great Depression and pretends she doesn't mind it all that much.
    • Thompson says that even with everything that's happened, he feels sorry for Charles Kane. Susan says that she does too, then notices that it's morning and they've been talking all night.
    • We return to Xanadu in the present, where Thompson is speaking with Kane's butler. The butler tells him he knows all about "rosebud" and he'll tell for a thousand dollars.
    • Thompson promises the money, so the butler goes on about how Mr. Kane used to do a lot of strange things. The butler specifically recalls the day Kane's wife Susan left him.
    • We flash back in time to see Charles throwing a fit and tossing his wife's suitcases against a bedroom wall. He goes on to trash the entire room.
    • The only thing Kane doesn't destroy is a snow globe, which he picks up and takes with him. Before leaving though, he looks down at the thing and whispers, "rosebud." We can tell now that this snow globe is the same one he breaks when he dies in the movie's opening scene.
    • The entire staff of Xanadu is in the hallway. They've heard him whisper "rosebud" and the butler steps forward. Charles just walks out of the room and past all of them in silence, pocketing the snow globe on his way.
    • Back in the present, Mr. Thompson asks the butler if this is all he knows about "rosebud" and the butler says yes. Thompson thinks this info is hardly worth a thousand bucks, so he walks away without giving the butler a cent.
  • Scene 22

    Scene 22

    • Thompson wanders down into Kane's main floor, where a ton of people are appraising all of Charles Kane's most valuable statues and possessions.
    • They pass a trophy that Kane's staff made to celebrate his return form Europe back when he was a young man.
    • One guy asks what it would spell if you put all of Kane's possessions together. Thompson suggests, "Charles Foster Kane" while another dude says "rosebud."
    • The folks want to know what Thompson found out about Kane, but Thompson says there isn't much.
    • At the end of the day, Thompson thinks that even figuring out what "rosebud" meant wouldn't have made sense of Charles Kane's life. At best, it would have just been one piece in a jigsaw puzzle. And with that, Thompson leaves for his train.
    • For our final shot of the movie, the camera pans over the hundreds and hundreds of crates in Charles Foster Kane's mansion and all the expensive objects that are supposed to go in them.
    • One guy grabs a child's sled and throws it into an incinerator with a bunch of other worthless junk.
    • As the camera pans in, we see that it's the sled that Charles Kane gave up on the day he left his parents' home as a boy. And of course, the sled's name is Rosebud.
    • If you didn't already know the ending to this movie, it's okay to gasp now.
    • We cut to an outside look at Xanadu, where the smoke from Rosebud is lifting into the night sky. Then in a mirror image of the opening scene, the camera pans down to the "No Trespassing" sign that sits on the chain-link fence surrounding the mansion.
    • So there you have it—the greatest movie ever made according to many of the world's top critics.