The Academy Awards are the set of awards designed to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements. These Awards were established by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the first presentation of them occurred in 1929. Everybody knows the unofficial name of the Academy Award of Merit, which is Oscar. The question of where the name “Oscar” came remains unanswered up till now, though there are several suggestions. From the time the Awards were established, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences never ceased to carry out the ceremony, even during the World War II. Still, the book “All about Oscar: the History and Politics of the Academy Awards” mentions a curious episode regarding the Oscars: “During World War II plaster statuettes were awarded as every piece of metal was needed for the war effort. After the War, though, the Academy went back to the original gold statuettes”. (p. 40) The last Academy Award up till now was the 84th, on the 26th of February 2012.
The film Casablanca was nominated on eight Academy Awards and won three of them in the 16th Academy Awards ceremony of 1944. The categories in which the film received awards were “Outstanding Motion Picture”, “Best Director”, “Best Screenplay”. This movie is undoubtedly special. As the book “Bigger than Blockbusters: Movies that Defined America” cites: "Casablanca has become one of the most beloved films of all time thanks to its timeless themes of love, manhood, romance and courage”. (p. 41) The story lying in the plot is touching and breathtaking. Rick Blaine, rich and rather powerful man who immediately impresses the audience with his strong character and bravery faces a very difficult choice. He is American expatriate and owns a nightclub in Casablanca. In the very beginning of the film the narrator describes the situation in the city as follows: “Here the fortunate ones through money or influence or luck might obtain exit visas exit visas and scurry to Lisbon, and from Lisbon to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca – and wait, and wait, and wait”.(Casablanca, 1942) Thus, men of all sorts keep coming to Rick’s nightclub in order to play casino and just spend time and forget about their problems with a glass of good wine. Rick claims that in the war he is on the neutral side and often tries to create an impression that he has philosophical view on life and has absolutely no inclination to noble deeds. However his actual deeds speak more than words. It becomes clear in the beginning of the film that he is not so neutral and has his opinion of what is right and whom he should support, as Captain Louis Renault challenges him with a question why he had supplied guns to Ethiopia during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. Even though Rick answers, that he was well-paid for that, Louis retorts with the statement that the other part of the conflict would have paid him much more, therefore money were not the thing. In another episode a young Bulgarian woman asks him his opinion: is it fair to betray her husband and sleep with Captain Louis if she does that only for her husband’s sake. The girl confesses that she loves her husband very much, but the couple desperately needs to get to America and has no money to pay for the pass. It is not a secret that Captain Louis appreciates beautiful young women a lot and he actually told the young lady that one night spent with him would solve all the problems. It is hard for young girl to trade her body, but she is almost ready to do it, though it is obvious that the decision was hard for her and that she really loves her husband deeply. Rick remains cold and dry during the conversation with the young woman. However, a couple of moments later he helps her husband to win, therefore the young people receive the money to pay Captain Louis.
As it was mentioned Rick has to face a difficult choice, and here he has to choose between helping his beloved woman and her husband, a renowned Czech Resistance leader to leave Casablanca, or not helping them. Though it is clear that Ilsa Lund, the wife of Victor Laszlo loves Rick as well, the situation is too complicated. The woman cannot leave her husband: she respects Victor and knows that as a good wife she has to be by her husband’s side. The matter is not only love: Ilsa feels that she must support Laszlo as he is and important figure in the fight against Nazis and without her love he would be too devastated to continue this fight. She is torn between her feelings and her duty. As a real man, Rick finally takes the responsibility of making the heart-breaking decision on him and helps Ilsa and her husband to leave Casablanca, telling her that she must go with her husband. The ending is quite touching, sad and dramatic, but in my opinion Rick made the right choice, as he understood that Ilsa would never forgive herself for leaving her husband and thus he spared his beloved woman from greater sufferings. Her feelings were more important for him, than his own ones.
Casablanca is a great film that is beloved by lots of people all over the globe and remains popular even nowadays. It undoubtedly deserves the awards that it received. This good old romantic drama will surely be watched with pleasure and admiration by many future generations.
Casablanca. Dir. Michael Curtiz. Perf. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid.
Warner Bros., 1942. DVD.
Levy, Emanuel. All about Oscar: the History and Politics of the Academy Awards. New
York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003. Print.
Roman, James. Bigger than Blockbusters: Movies that Defined America. Westport, CT:
Greenwood Press, 2009. Print.