The making of the greatest film of all time, made by one of the greatest filmmakers of our time.
Mank, director David Fincher‘s new film for Netflix (and first feature since 2014’s Gone Girl), dramatizes the story of how the screenplay for Citizen Kane came to be. The streamer has released the first look images for the film on September 5, the same day that Citizen Kane debuted in theaters back in 1941 (see gallery below).
Considered one of the best scripts ever written (for the best film ever made, or so used to be the consensus opinion), it was drafted by writer Herman Mankiewicz, a notorious alcoholic and social critic. Actor/producer/director Orson Welles (a notorious figure in his own right) hired Mankiewicz to write his vision for fictionalizing the life of William Randolph Hearst, a controversial uber-rich media mogul who was (you guessed it) a notorious American figure.
Nominated for 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture (it lost to John Ford‘s How Green Was My Valley), Citizen Kane won only one Oscar — for Best Original Screenplay. Mankiewicz and Welles shared the prize, but the credit for who actually wrote what in the final version has been the stuff of Hollywood legend.
This movie (written by Fincher’s late father Jack, who was obsessed with Mankiewicz) aims to present the details of that legend in era-appropriate black-and-white, shot by cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt (Fincher’s DP on his Netflix series Mindhunter).
Oscar-winner Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour, the Dark Knight trilogy) stars as Mankiewicz, who quarantined himself at an alcohol-free retreat to knock out the initial 300-page draft (then titled “American”). The cast also includes Lily Collins (as Mankiewicz secretary Rita Alexander), Amanda Seyfried (actress Marion Davies), Arliss Howard (producer/MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer), Tom Pelphrey (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Herman’s brother and renowned All About Eve director), Charles Dance (William Randolph Hearst), and Tom Burke (as Orson Welles).
Per the first images, it looks as lush and gorgeous as one would expect from a David Fincher film. Even so, Fincher’s commitment to digital buffers the full nostalgic possibilities. Too clean in some respects and not sharp (or granular) enough in others, one wishes (or, at least, I do) that Fincher would’ve opted for film stock on this one, but given his obsession for endless takes it’s unlikely he’ll ever ditch digital capture again.
With a score by Social Network composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, (read more about their classic approach to producing the music here on Collider), Mank is expected to open on Netflix and in select theaters sometime this fall (date TBA) and likely be a major contender in this year’s Oscar race (whatever that may end up looking like).
Click on any image for larger gallery