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CLOSE-UP: ET IN ARKADIN EGO

Orson Welles, Mr. Arkadin, 1955/2006, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 105 minutes.

For Jonathan Rosenbaum

MR. ARKADIN (1955) and Citizen Kane (1941) are bookends for the same themes—the quasi-tragic fall of the (anti)hero, the psychology of domination, and the ruthless exercise of power. In Arkadin’s case, throw in the poetics of murder. What a Gothick mix! Arkadin’s germination has even more mysteries attached to it than Kane ever had. To prefer Arkadin, Kane’s mutilated sibling, as Godard did, is heretical. The film is usually dismissed in the annals and chronicles of the King Actor (as he liked to call himself), partly because Welles dismissed it, indeed would never discuss it seriously.

In Welles’s oeuvre, Mr. Arkadin occurs between Othello (1952) and Touch of Evil (1958). Arkadin was a good idea—possibly, as Welles said, “the best idea I ever had.” A wealthy, omnipotent man of grubby origins (played, of course, by Welles) wants to eliminate all

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