• This essay challenges the dominant discourse on two highly controversial 1941 films Citizen Kane and How Green was my Valley.
    Film critics tend to be outraged and marvel today how this miscarriage of aesthetic justice ever could have happened. Why, they cry, did How Green was my Valley ever get chosen as 1942’s Best Picture of the Year over Orson Welles’ artistic triumph Citizen Kane? Citizen Kane’s innovative cinematography and stream-of consciousness narration fit with the aesthetics of high modernism, such as breaking the frame of linear time, detailing ruptures in Kane’s psyche. But was this merely a mistake? Or is something else going on? Did “the heart” win over “the head” and a “sentimental” film about the hardships and changes over a generation in a Welsh coal mining village temporarily surpass a “timeless” masterpiece? How class-encoded are judgments about the two films?