Balboa Park

Movie Citizen Kane Orson Welles (1941)
The story of newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane begins with a foray into Xanadu, his intimidating mansion. A legendary place at the center of a tortuous film, considered one of the greatest classics of the seventh art. An ambitious fresco whose conception is at least as exciting as the film itself.
Balboa Park
Balboa Park - Credit: Pixabay

“Kubla Khan had a sumptuous palace built in Xanadu. And the legend took hold of Xanadu. In Florida there is another Xanadu, the largest private estate in the world.”

Fictional documentary on Xanadu presented
at the beginning of Citizen Kane

On June 29, 1940, Orson Welles gave the first crank to Citizen Kane, his first feature film, in which he also played the lead role. While the story takes place in sunny Florida, the director chooses San Diego’s Balboa Park to film the opening scenes, which are supposed to introduce the audience to the main character’s spectacular home.

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Cult! movies: 100 mythical places of cinema [French Edition]

Want to know more about this place and its connection to Citizen Kane? Find the whole story and 99 others in the book Cult! cinema!

In the screenplay, co-written by Herman J. Mankiewicz, the estate in question, called Xanadu, is largely based on the Hearst Castle, the residence overlooking San Simeon Beach in California, where William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaper magnate, lived at the time. Charles Foster Kane, the central character of the film, also evokes this powerful boss, although Orson Welles has always denied it. After all, there are many similarities: Randolph Hearst also lives in his castle and the two men occupy the same dominant position, literally and figuratively.

In Balboa Park, the filmmaker takes his camera along the many buildings with elaborate architecture. In particular, he films the El Cid statue and the green expanses, before lingering in the San Diego zoo, which he links, through the magic of editing, to the domain of Charles Foster Kane.

686 033

The budget for Citizen Kane was $686,033in 1941; the equivalent of more than 11 million dollars today.

Opening scene of Citizen Kane
Opening scene of Citizen Kane – Credit: Mercury Theatre and RKO Pictures
Scène d'ouverture de Citizen Kane
Opening scene of Citizen Kane – Credit: Mercury Theatre and RKO Pictures

Balboa Park

If the name of this Californian park seems to evoke the famous boxer incarnated in the movies by Sylvester Stallone, it actually refers to Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the first European discoverer of the Pacific Ocean from its eastern coast in 1513.

Created in 1968 and preserved since 1835, this magnificent 4.9 km2 park hosted the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935. In addition, it houses theaters, shops, restaurants, and the San Diego Zoo. It is also home to the Museum of Man and the Museum of Art. It is one of the oldest parks in the United States. Fun fact: It was once home to a copy of the famous Rocky Balboa statue from Philadelphia.

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Cult! movies: 100 mythical places of cinema [French Edition]

Since the dawn of cinema, films have invaded the world and highlighted sometimes unexpected places. Every film location has its secrets. The latter are sometimes as exciting as the feature films themselves.

Did you know that the cemetery where the final duel of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was built from scratch and that no body lies there? Or that the bus ofInto The Wild has been moved to discourage fans from spending the night there? From the story of the construction of The Bridge on the River Kwai to the incredible encounter during the shooting of the last scene ofIndiana Jones and the Last Crusadeembark on an exciting world tour with the greatest stars of the seventh art. Shiver in the real haunted house ofAmityville and discover the terrifying anecdotes of the making ofApocalypse Now in the Philippines. Visit the building of Blade Runner before stopping at Hogwarts and finally landing in Jurassic Parkin the middle of the Hawaiian archipelago. What if we also took you behind the scenes of the making of the Hobbits’ village of Lord of the Rings ?

Produced by a team of pop-culture specialists and enhanced by numerous anecdotes, Cult! movies tells the secrets of the places that made the history of cinema.

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By Damien Duarte

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Passionné par la culture pop depuis son enfance, ses références vont de Donald Duck à Batman en passant par Marty McFly. Fantripper dans l'âme, voyager sur les traces de Ghostbusters, James Bond ou des héros de romans comme Cotton Malone fait partie d'un séjour idéal et réussi !

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