Mank Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Great acting by Gary Oldman; great acting ensemble; stylization of 40’s films, filming techniques, staging, music, lighting, special effects, etc.; terrific dialogues

The authors’ somewhat biased attitude toward Orson Welles

Mank Movie Meaning

Genre biographical drama
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Gary Oldman (Herman Mankiewicz), Tom Burke (Orson Welles), Amanda Seyfried (Marion Davies), Lily Collins (Rita Alexander), Tappence Middleton (Sarah Mankiewicz), Tom Pelphrey (Joseph Mankiewicz), Earliss Howard (Louis Bart Meyer), Charles Dance (William Randolph Hearst), Monica Gossmann (Fräulein Frieda), Bill Nye (Upton Sinclair), and others.
Netflix International Pictures, Netflix Studios
Year of release 2020
IMDb Sites

Orson Welles, director of Citizen Kane (1941), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), Touch of Evil (1958), The Trial (1962), Chimes at Midnight (1965), and F for Fake (1973), regularly listed as one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century, has won only two Oscars in his more than 50-year career. The first was for Citizen Kane, which was nominated in nine categories, but earned only one statuette – for Best Screenplay. And this “Oscar” Welles shared with his co-writer, Herman Mankiewicz. The second, honorary “Oscar”, the director earned only thirty years later, in 1971. The film Mank / Mank, largely based on the essay Raising Kane, written by film critic Pauline Kael and ironically released in the same 1971, disputes the role of Welles in the work on the script, directly stating that he did not deserve his first Oscar. However, Mank is not only about the conflict over the script, it is primarily about the very controversial personality of Herman Mankiewicz and the Hollywood of the 30s and 40s of the last century. It is also about responsibility for one’s words, fake news and the mystical connection between the author and his work.

A review of the biographical drama Mank

Like Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Fincher’s new movie should be approached only after prior preparation. For starters, it’s worth watching or revisiting Citizen Kane itself. It is indeed a very strong movie, and without knowing its plot and some of its episodes, you simply won’t understand the connection between the episodes of Herman Mankiewicz’s life shown in Mank, his screenplay, and Orson Welles’ film. Watching Citizen Kane will allow you to pay attention to the directorial techniques, shooting style, lighting, and other aspects of filmmaking that Fincher tried to copy. In addition, before watching Mank, it is worth reading about the people shown in the film to understand who is in front of you and what role he played in the formation of modern Hollywood. There are a lot of characters in Mank, sometimes they flash on the screen for only a few seconds, but the list of names of the stars of the 30-40 years of the last century, who appeared in the movie, will surely impress you. So open the movie’s Wikipedia page and start clicking through the movie’s characters. Trust me, it’s a highly entertaining read.

A review of the biographical drama Mank.

Jack Fincher, who has written for many periodicals and had a long association with Life, finished the script Mank, based on an essay by Pauline Kael, back in the early 1990s. The Herman Mankiewicz movie was supposed to be David Fincher’s next work after The Game (1997). The director saw Kevin Spacey and Jodie Foster in the lead roles. Alas, due to Fincher’s desire to shoot the film on black and white film and generally stylize it as Citizen Kane, the project was constantly delayed. In 2003, after a hard-fought battle with cancer, Jack Fincher died. His son didn’t return to the script until 2019, when Netflix found the money for the risky project. Of course, Mank will probably not reach the record viewings of Adam Sandler’s films, but along with The Boys in the Band and The Trial of the Chicago 7 will bring the service many nominations for Oscars, BAFTAs and other prestigious awards.

A review of the biographical drama Mank.

David Fincher’s decision to make a movie about the screenwriter of Citizen Kane in black and white is truly brilliant. By filming it in the manner of Citizen Kane itself, copying the style, makeup, frame construction, music (only instruments available in the 40s), lighting and imperfect special effects of the time, constantly interrupting the narrative with flashbacks, as it was in the original, the director draws parallels between this movie and the life of Mankiewicz himself and his acquaintances, who became the prototypes of Citizen Kane characters. Even the very first scene of the movie and the opening credits copy the movies of the 40s. Great stylization, a kind of tribute to the 1941 film and some polemic with it.

A review of the biographical drama Mank.

And although the movie shows us only three months of Herman Mankiewicz’s life, during which he, locked up on a remote ranch, worked on the script, thanks to constant references to the past we can feel the spirit of the 30s and 40s of the last century, the Great Depression, the beginning of the war, the spirit of Hollywood of that time. Interesting, for example, are the scenes discussing Hitler, the general fear of socialists and some election techniques that are still successfully used today.

A review of the biographical drama Mank.

Herman Mankiewicz was a remarkable man – a polymath, the owner of a great sense of humor and undoubted writing talent, as well as a complete alcoholic. Someone considers him, who took part in the work on more than forty films of the first years of sound cinema, a kind of link, a man who united famous Hollywood producers, screenwriters and directors. You can see that the authors of the movie are in love with their hero, no matter how unpleasant and difficult he may be at times, which is why the second party of the conflict around the script, Orson Welles, got a fair share of negativity here. In Mank he is shown as a narcissistic, capricious dabbler of fate, just by chance brought to the movie Olympus. That seems a little unfair.

A review of the biographical drama Mank.

Mank has assembled a really terrific cast. And both female and male. Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tuppence Middleton and Monica Gossmann perfectly conveyed the images of the women who surrounded Mankiewicz and helped him in working on the script (the character of Lily Collins, the screenwriter’s secretary Rita Alexander, even gave the main character Citizen Kane her name). Tom Burke, Tom Pelphrey, Earliss Howard, and the magnificent Charles Dance played the men who tried to influence the script work and became the prototypes for the Citizen Kane characters. Heck, Fincher even managed to get science popularizer Bill Nye into the movie! However, the main star here is still Gary Oldman, who else to play a brilliant alcoholic, as not a brilliant actor, who had serious problems with alcohol for a long time. Well, Gary Oldman is the best Herman Mankiewicz could ever wish for. This may be the best role of his career.

A review of the biographical drama Mank.

Mank is a declaration of love for Hollywood. Yes, at times incredibly ugly and ruthless, but still conquering hearts. How David Fincher’s movie won our heart and hopefully will win over the members of the Film Academy jury.


A very personal film by David Fincher, based on his father’s script and stylized to look like the paintings of the 40s of the last century

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