The Obsessive Lives of Howard Hughes and Charles Foster Kane
The Aviator is a 2004 epic biographical drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, written by John Logan, and produced by Graham King. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the pioneering aviator and film producer Howard Hughes. The film chronicles the life of Hughes from 1927 to 1947, during which time he became a successful film producer and an aviation magnate while simultaneously growing more unstable due to severe obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).
Citizen Kane is a 1941 American mystery drama film directed by Orson Welles, who also co-wrote, produced, and starred in the film. Citizen Kane is frequently cited as the greatest American movie of all time. The story follows newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane as he dies and reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of his final utterance: “Rosebud”.
2. The Aviator:
The Aviator begins in 1927 with the young Hughes working on designs for a record-breaking airplane, the H-1 Racer, to compete for the $25,000 Orteig Prize for the first nonstop flight between New York City and Paris. Flamboyant and charismatic, Hughes captures the attention of America with his audacious plans and innovative spirit. He quickly establishes himself as one of Hollywood's brightest new talents, making huge box office successes with his films Hell's Angels (1930) and Scarface (1932). But even as he revels in his new-found fame and fortune, Hughes remains consumed by his obsession with aviation.
While flying the H-1 Racer at an air show near Los Angeles, an engine failure forces Hughes to crash land, nearly killing him. Disfigured from burns sustained in the accident, Hughes becomes a virtual recluse, withdrawing from society and turning his focus to developing a new airplane, the Spruce Goose. When World War II breaks out, Hughes is recruited by Pan American Airways board member Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin) to develop a new fleet of bomber aircraft for the U.S. military. As tensions mount between Trippe and Hughes over the delays in production, Senator Owen Brewster (Alan Alda) begins an investigation into suspected war profiteering within Hughes's aerospace companies.
With business rivalsAttempting to sabotage his work and government officials scrutinizing his every move, Hughes becomes increasingly paranoid, leading him to turn away even those closest to him—including aviation pioneer Glenn Odekirk (Aaron Eckhart) and Hollywood actresses Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). Haunted by memories of his tragic accident and tormented by crippling OCD, Hughes finally loses his grip on reality as he tries desperately to complete his most ambitious project yet: building a transcontinental passenger airline that will revolutionize air travel forever.
2. 2 Connection to Citizen Kane:
There are several similarities between The Aviator and Citizen Kane which suggest that Scorsese may have been influenced by Welles's film while making The Aviator. Both films follow their protagonists from early childhood into old age through a series of flashbacks; both protagonists are obsessively driven men whose pursuit of wealth and power destroys their personal lives; and both films end with their protagonists' death and a reporter's attempt to understand the deeper meaning behind their final words.
2. 3 Major Themes:
The major themes in The Aviator are obsessions, mental illness, and greed. Hughes was an obsessive perfectionist who was driven to achieve his goals at any cost. His obsessions led him to become one of the most successful businessmen and aviators of his time, but they also caused him to alienate those closest to him and ultimately led to his downfall. Mental illness is another major theme in the film, as Hughes's OCD gradually worsened over the years, becoming so severe that it caused him to lose touch with reality. Greed is also a major theme, as it was one of the motivations behind Hughes's actions throughout his life.
3. Citizen Kane:
Citizen Kane is the story of newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), who dies at his palatial home, Xanadu, in Florida. As reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of his final utterance—“Rosebud”—the film flashes back to Kane's early life, chronicling his rise from poverty to wealth and power.
Kane's beginnings are humble, as he is born into a working-class family in Colorado. He is soon orphaned and taken in by a wealthy couple, Walter and Emily Norton (George Coulouris and Agnes Moorehead), who raise him in luxury. As a young man, Kane marries Emily (Ruth Warrick), but his true love is journalism. He purchases a small newspaper, The Inquirer, and quickly turns it into a successful media empire.
Kane's business acumen is matched by his talent for self-promotion, and he uses his media outlets to further his own political ambitions. He runs for governor of New York State, but loses the election after a scandalous affair with a showgirl named Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore) is exposed by his political rival, William Randolph Hearst (Joseph Cotten). Undeterred by this setback, Kane continues to amass wealth and power, eventually buying an opera house in order to showcase Susan's singing talents. But as Kane's obsession with Susan grows, he neglects Emily and drives her away. With his personal life in shambles, Kane finally meets his downfall when he loses control of his newspaper empire during the Great Depression.
3. 2 Connection to The Aviator:
There are several similarities between Citizen Kane and The Aviator which suggest that Scorsese may have been influenced by Welles's film while making The Aviator. Both films follow their protagonists from early childhood into old age through a series of flashbacks; both protagonists are obsessively driven men whose pursuit of wealth and power destroys their personal lives; and both films end with their protagonists' death and a reporter's attempt to understand the deeper meaning behind their final words.
3. 3 Major Themes:
The major themes in Citizen Kane are obsessions, power, and corruption. Kane's obsessions with his work and with Susan Alexander eventually lead to his downfall, as they cause him to neglect his wife and lose control of his newspaper empire. Power is another major theme in the film, as Kane's wealth and influence allow him to amass an incredible amount of power, both in business and in politics. But Kane's abuse of power is also a major theme, as his attempt to manipulate the media and rig an election ultimately leads to his undoing.
The Aviator and Citizen Kane are two of the most influential films ever made, and it's clear that Martin Scorsese was heavily influenced by Orson Welles's film while making The Aviator. Both films follow their protagonists from early childhood into old age, chronicling their obsessions and the destruction of their personal lives. Both films end with their protagonists' death and a reporter's attempt to understand the deeper meaning behind their final words. The major themes in both films are obsessions, power, and corruption.