Citizen Kane, once considered the pièce de résistance of classic cinema, has experienced a quick fall from grace over the past week as Rotten Tomatoes mysteriously unearthed a negative review of the film dated to May 7, 1941. The review is attributed to “Mae Tinée” of the Chicago Tribune (likely a pseudonym), and calls Citizen Kane both a “flop” and “bizarre”, labelling it interesting and different, but given too much to “eccentricity”.
It flies in the face of the general consensus towards the film, which is often considered a masterpiece of drama and narrative. In year’s past, Citizen Kane has been regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. But one single review has changed the consensus of the film — and movie history as we know it.
In adding this review to Citizen Kane’s Rotten Tomatoes score, the film has slipped from a perfect 100% fresh rating with 116 reviews down to just 99%. That knocks it down a few significant rankings and places it behind the perfect scores of films like Paddington 2 (2017), Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999) and The Terminator (1984).
So for all intents and purposes, yes, Paddington 2 is now considered a better film than Citizen Kane by movie critics.
While the decision to hold up a historical review might seem odd, it’s actually part of bigger changes happening at Rotten Tomatoes. According to IndieWire, the website is currently working on archiving and preserving classic editorial content relating to film and entertainment. So if you’ve ever wanted to know what critics thought of your favourite classic films in the era they were created, RT’s archival hub has you sorted.
It’s pretty amazing seeing just how many ‘classic’ films only gained a real cult following in the years after they released — and to see the critics of the past go against the grain.
In addition to collating these reviews, Rotten Tomatoes is also working on building a review archive of “lost” films in an effort to preserve their legacy and impact despite their status as “missing” or “destroyed”. (Many historic films were either lost during World Wars or destroyed in archival fires.)
While the restoration of these historic reviews spells bad news for movies like Citizen Kane, it is great news for modern masterpieces like Paddington 2. If Paddington’s victory comes at the expense of Citizen Kane‘s legacy, then so be it.
Long live Paddington 2, the new greatest film ever made.