229. “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree.”

MST3k Riff-a-Day

The episode:The Phantom Creeps pt. 2,” the short in front of “Rocket Attack U.S.A,” ep. 205

The riff: Spoken by Tom in a deep, halting voice as an ominous building is shown in the darkness and the prologue starts to roll.

The explanation: The actual line is the opening to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem “Kubla Khan,” originally conceived in an opium dream. The delivery, though, is meant to mimic the narrator of the opening “News on the March” newsreel segment of the film “Citizen Kane.” Kane’s pleasure dome is named Xanadu after the Mongol ruler from the poem, and the quote from the poem is shown as the newsreel begins. In the film, Xanadu is built in ridiculous excess to show the coldness of Kane’s heart, largely empty and ultimately his tomb.

Novelty factor: I am a fan of both…

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