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Of ships and wax and snow globes...in CK


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As an oneiric entity in CK the snow globe for me is the heart of the storyline. Historically...though snowglobes go back in Europe to the 16th century, possibly beginning production in Thuringia they first received mass adoration during the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1878 and became a Victorian phenomenon, which figures as a time period in Orson's exposition, just as it did in TMA.


Many believe that early snow globes with scenes and landscapes originally represented Marie Antoinette and her search for the past in her charming replica of a peasant village and chalet at Petit Trianon.


Much like Kane, Marie fantasized a bourgeous life of continual contentment in a past time yet this type of artificial sentimentalized setting never really existed and would have probably proved boring to her in reality, as would Kane's life if he has persisted with his beloved Rosebud and lived on in dire poverty.


Time trapped and suspended in animation in a blizzard globe, is an artificial and petrified state of nature and the snow globe in CK is a still life, with Kane's memories crystallized in a static state expressing his melancholic view of times gone by.


Some say that every souvenir one collects is a symptom of the subconscious knowledge of impending death which is why a mania for collecting objects is known as "collectionism" in neurology.


The only difference between a hoarder and a collector, is the value of such and the way one houses their objects of adoration, and Kane was definitely a hoarder with the first object hoarded being the blizzard form of a presse-papier which represented the lost Rosebud.


The mnemonic landscape of the film portends perhaps that actually it was Welles pinning his own story onto the Hearst bandwagon, to disguise his own evanescent images of reminiscences of his childhood, as that is why travel souvenirs and dream spheres, as they were named by Ludwig II, the mad king of Bavaria who had his own demons, became so popular...to reestablish one's past in one's memory.


This is my exegesis of the importance of snow globes in CK but you may disagree or have other ideas as relevant. Perhaps the resemblance of Kane in old age to Peter Lorre in "Mad Love" or the infamous cockatoo scene.


By the way, speaking of "Rosebud" it seems odd that it is continually Robert Osborne introducing CK in the prologues, when TCM has an actual Mankiewicz relative on the payroll. I feel perhaps Ben could add some pertinent insights into the gynecological connections that have been referenced in books on Hearst, the word "Rosebud" vis a vis Marion Davies, and W.R.'s distaste for the film.


Please extrapolate at your leisure!

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Sfpcc2...yes, brilliant!


I'd forgotten about that. What an amazing conclusion to a series.


I wonder if it had been planned from the beginning or was come up with later.


But regardless...thanks for the great reference!


Edited by: CaveGirl on Oct 1, 2013 5:17 PM

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Okay, I have probably watched CK at least a dozen times over the years, and I still don't understand how anyone knew that "Rosebud" was his final word, as his nurse doesn't open up his bedroom door and walk through it until after he's uttered this now famous line and drops the snow globe.


Sure, there was the scene much later on in the film in which his butler(Paul Stewart) and the rest of his staff witness him tearing up Susan's bedroom after she's left him and he utters the word after they've watched him doing that, but that was not his "last word".


(...so what gives here?...and not that I have to be THAT "literal" here, mind you...I just wanna know, THAT'S all)

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OMGoodness, I also forgot about that snowglobe ending and how St.Eligus and everyone was in Tommy's autistic mind. But the instant I started reading your post it all came back I never missed an episode of that OUTSTANDING series, for me one of the best ever on TV. I remember being really thrown for a loop with that ending. There's no question that was a CK reference,.Good thinking sfpcc, glad you remembered that :)

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In the Disney version of "Annie" (1990) Victor Garber is holding a snow globe of New York while beginning to sing "NYC".




Here is a scene in "The Santa Clause" (1994)




And better fitting the movie called "Snow Globe" (2007)




Edited by: hamradio on Oct 1, 2013 10:51 PM

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>With all that 'stuff' on her dresser, it amazes me how you were able to spot the snow globe !


After seeing the same movie many times, my eyes are no longer required to stay fixed on the faces of the main characters, so I often look around the rooms they are in. I look for clues. :)


Also, at that particular point in the dialogue, Kane told her that he was on his way over to a warehouse to look over some of his childhood belongings that had been shipped to New York from Colorado. So, I figure he was going over to look for his sled. I find it interesting that Welles thought about putting the globe on her dresser, but not mentioning it to the audience. So we could discover it 70 years later. :)

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The shot over the opening credits of *Little Women* (1933) is certainly snow globe-like, although I don't recall if it's an actual snow globe. The music adds to the tone of a cosy, distant past -- a quaint house, warm within, despite the romantic snowy mood without. It is evocative of a comfy time, just as author Louisa May Alcott's work is in tune with another staunch New Englander, John Greenleaf Whittier, who evokes that scene with his poem "Snow Bound." Both Alcott and Whittier offer up a New England which may be contrasted with the South of Scarlett O'Hara and Tara. I think *Little Women* and *Gone with the Wind* offer two windows into a snow globe of very different life styles, each dealing in its own way with the Civil War.

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I believe Welles had prophetic knowledge of the outcome of World War

Two, and that the snowglobe is a reference to the wartime career of

Dwight D. Eisenhower. Snowy white as in the white hair on Ike's head.

It is also a secondary reference to the old saying 'There may be snow

on the roof but there's still a fire in the furnance,' as a nod to Ike's alleged

sexual realtionship withhis wartime driver Kay Summersby. Snow itself is

for the Battle of the Bulge, which was fought during the winter. The globe

refers to the world wide war and the world wide fame that it brought

Eisenhower. And this dream world was rounded with a sleep, as he was

a devotee of naps. Though he lacked a beard, in other respects Ike is

an archtype of the wise old man and is thus linked with the figure of

Santa Claus and of course, Christmas time and winter. And naturally

the abbreviation CK is a reference to C and K rations and the old saw

that an army travels on its stomach. It appears that Welles was quite

the amateur semiotician avant la lettre. Now, how Welles gained this

prophetic knowledge is still a mystery.


I believe Pauline Kael referred to the link between Welles' bald look in a

section of CK and Peter Lorre's look in Mad Love since Gregg Toland

worked on both films. She also made the observation that while Hearst

didn't know Welles very well, Mankiewicz had often been a guest at

San Simeon. So while the work of Little Orson Annie could be dismissed

as that of a raw yute, Mank's exposure of some of the Hearst intimacies

was seen as a personal betrayal, a much more serious sin. And I guess

the debate will go on for a long time if, in real life, Hearst was himself

Rosebud whipped.

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Scfy's idiotic "Snowmageddon" (2011), they shake a snow globe and all hell breaks loose.








And in "Heidi" (1937) the snow globe faced the hell of Miss Rottenmeier's wrath.




Edited by: hamradio on Oct 2, 2013 12:17 AM

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I think it's true that there was no one present to hear Kane's last word. Let's just chalk it up to a continuity error.


In that same scene, something I noticed on my umpteenth viewing was that at one point the snow seemed to be falling *outside* the globe! How could this be? I believe it was intended to show the way Kane saw it in his delirium.

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I think snow globes are used in films to denote innocence. There's something simple and charming about them, and they almost always seem to fascinate children.


I've always thought that Kane's murmur of "Rosebud" at the film's (and his life's) conclusion was not so much about the word itself - that reporter was barking up the wrong tree in that respect.

It was that the sled reminded him of the long ago days when he was a young child, when he was playing with childish things and his life was uncomplicated.

A simple pleasant day playing in the snow with his sled.

That was the last time he had a day like that.


The sled is a metaphor for his earlier happier life, and also, perhaps, what his life might have been like if he'd never come into all that money.


True, it is implied, by the great Agnes Moorehead, that he had troubles even in that life, troubles related to his relationship with his father. We never find out anything about that, and I kind of like it that way.


I've also heard a theory from a very good friend of mine that what *Citizen Kane* (the film) is saying is that we cannot sum up a person's life by obsessing over one word. All the characters in the film had a different version of Kane, who he was, what he was really like. No one word, no one thing, can explain a human being.

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>misswonderly said: I think snow globes are used in films to denote innocence.


Unfaithful (2002) - A snow globe is given by an adultress to her lover who is murdered in an emotional rage by her husband - with the snow globe. The husband returns the globe to their family's home where his wife discovers it in it's original spot. Only now does she begin to realize what has transpired. This is a good movie.

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Kitty Foyle possesses a snow globe with a figure of a girl riding a sled, one hand in the air. Early on in the film, Kitty's mirror reflection lays out the metaphor of the snow globe for her, that it is time for Kitty to stop and think instead of just careening madly along on her sled in one direction--downhill.

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