A brief note on history: In the first few months of WWII, Nazi Germany overran most of mainland Europe. As France was being invaded, the French government split into two factions. The first was composed of those who accepted defeat and surrendered to Germany. The other refused surrender and continued fighting abroad, forming a government in exile. The remnants
of the French government that had capitulated formed a state that came to be known as “Vichy France”, after the French town it was based in. While nominally an independent nation, it was more like puppet regime of the Third Reich. The setting of the movie, the French colony of Morroco, exists in a sort of grey area: not under occupation by fascists, yet not really free from
This was the second time I’d seen Casablanca, and I really love it. I actually asked at the beginning if Casablanca was a real place, because it does feel like a hazy, gray in-between – not quite real. From our first introduction to Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick, we are given clues as to his history. The question of why he is in Casablanca reveals itself in time. Rick, or Richard, delivers many of the one-liners that have made Casablanca one of the most quotable movies of all time. The real strength lies in his dry, deadpan delivery. One detestable character, Vichy Captain Louis Renault, is an unscrupulous character throughout the film. A casual acquaintance of Rick’s who regularly polices his saloon/gambling den, he uses his power to distribute traveling papers as leverage to procure sex from young women desperate to fly out of Casablanca to Lisbon and then on to the United States. By comparison, Rick is fiercely ethical – he takes decisive action on behalf of others and is very fair. But he begins to crumble when his former lover Ilsa walks into his bar.
Here we are at a real Golden Age of Hollywood classic, no obscure footnote in film history here. Casablanca is a film about passions. Of course there is the love story/love triangle at the plot’s core. But also hatred, nationalism and heroism- the passions of the World War still ongoing at the time of production- and with the outcome very much uncertain. Casablanca’s great strength is it’s dialogue. Character is revealed and plot is moved along by the words of the characters, but rarely in the “now I am going to Continue reading