Casablanca, a classic tale of romance mixed with the flavor of patriotism, redefined the film industry. The ambiguous yet enchanting dialogues, Bergman’s cynicism regarding the past and passion for Ilsa, the setting of a new era represented by the dazzling casino, the presence of the evergreen Ingrid Bergman, the impending doom and the supremacy of lady luck make this movie ageless and a classic.
This film produced some of the most famous dialogues, like, “I stick my neck out for nobody”, “and this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship”and“Play it, Sam”. These dialogues depicted the past and the pain of the characters. Rick’s dialogues that he never sticks his neck out for nobody establishes his identity as a cynical bitter person in the film, but it is through his help that Ilsa and Victor Laszlo.
The romantic tale and the strong sense of patriotism have been built around the main conflict of Ilsa and Laszlo leaving Casablanca. Rick Blaine confronts his past and bitterness when Ilsa comes back to Casablanca and then finally accepts his fate that he can never be with her when he tells her to leave with Laszlo.
The whole movie has been set in Casablanca, which is the best gateway for the people to flee from the Nazis. The backdrop is that of World War II and the Nazis have conquered France and are ready to invade Africa as well. Despite the dire setback, what is interesting is that no character is completely bad or good. Everyone have a shade of grey which make them come true to life. Rogert Ebert writes in regard to this movie, “What is intriguing is that none of the major characters is bad. Some are cynical, some lie, some kill, but all are redeemed. If you think it was easy for Rick to renounce his love for Ilsa–to place a higher value on Laszlo’s fight against Nazism–remember Forster’s famous comment, “If I were forced to choose between my country and my friend, I hope I would be brave enough to choose my friend.”
The themes, the settings, the lights, the dialogues and the music amalgamate perfectly and the result is astounding. One of the main themes is that you have to face the past, no matter how much you try to run away from it. Like Rick never speaks of his past but one day it just appears in front of him in the form of Ilsa and Laszlo. The music is in perfect accord with the themes of the play and undoubtedly “As time goes by” steals your heart away with the majestic lyrics and soulful music. Moreover, as this movie has patriotism as one of its strongest ingredients, La Marseillaise (French anthem) serves its purpose beautifully.
As for the acting, Laurie Boeder very pertinently writes: “Bogart and Bergman shine in their only screen pairing, but it’s the flawless direction and ensemble cast that make this movie, from the nameless pickpocket in the opening sequence to the elderly Jewish couple earnestly fracturing English phrases as they prepare for the passage to America. With a few spare lines of dialog, a glimpsed gesture, a few moments on screen, all the characters are fully sketched, and Rick’s café seems very real.”
The lighting of the movies is also quite apt keeping in mind the despair times and heartbreaking confessions. But despite the overall tear jerking affect, the warm and beautiful ending, “this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship”, makes you press the rewind button again and again.
Furthermore, another unique aspect of the movies is that you cannot tell till the very end that how it will end. After the passionate embrace of Rick and Ilsa, the viewer’s eyes shine with optimism that they will finally get back together but the movie has something totally different in store for you. In regard to this, Rogert Ebert wrote: “In her close-ups during this scene, Bergman’s face reflects confusing emotions. And well she might have been confused, since neither she nor anyone else on the film knew for sure until the final day that would get on the plane. Bergman played the whole movie without knowing how it would end, and this had the subtle effect of making all of her scenes more emotionally convincing; she could not tilt in the direction she knew the wind was blowing.”
The movie which was made on a tight budget created a boom in the industry and wooed the heart of millions of people. “The richness of the supporting characters (Greenstreet as the corrupt club owner, Lorre as the sniveling cheat, Rains as the subtly homosexual police chief and minor characters like the young girl who will do anything to help her husband) set the moral stage for the decisions of the major characters The black-and-white cinematography has not aged as color would. The dialogue is so spare and cynical it has not grown old-fashioned” (Ebert).
It is still as beautiful as it was in the day it was made and one can never get tired of the heart warming dialogues, the intriguing cynical comments and the unforgettable romance of Ilsa and Rick.
Boeder, Laurie. “Casablanca – Bogart and Bergman in a Timeless Romance.” About.com-Classic Movies. N.p. Web. 12 Dec 2012.
Ebert, Roger. “Casablanca (1942).” Roger Ebert.com. N.P., 15 Sep 1996. Web. 12 Dec 2012.