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Casablanca rightfully deserves to be one of the best motion pictures ever to come out of Hollywood. It is mysterious, idealistic, humorous, cynical, ambiguous and most importantly engaging.
The film was everything that others had said about it and more. One feels lost in the storyline from the moment the narrator describes the location of the movie. It is almost as if Casablanca has an incomprehensible power over its viewers. The white suits, smoky atmosphere and talk about the war all play a part in inviting a viewer to this distant place.
Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of the movie is its exotic location and all those nationalities involved in it. Alternatively, it could be the rich and engaging dialogue or the complexity of the characters. The magical piano played by Sam, as well as his bewitching voice when he sings “Time goes by”, adds to this winning recipe of a movie (Casablanca).
While Rick seems tough and indifferent at the beginning of the film, one later realizes that he is idealistic and susceptible to love. What’s more, although he is the protagonist of the film, the director still makes room for another admirable character in the film; that is, Lazlo. Nonetheless, Rick is more endearing because he has a certain unexplainable aura about him. As the movie moves along, one unravels these hidden aspects of his personality one layer at a time.
For instance, when Captain Renault blackmails a young married woman into sleeping with him, Rick makes arrangements for her husband to win at a game of roulette. It is admirable how he wants to help this lady preserve her marriage. Renault seems manipulative and self-centered, but eventually chooses to support his friend Rick when he opts to leave the country. All the characters seem to have one defect or more, yet it is these inadequacies that make them so endearing.
One of the things that will always hook audiences to this film is its love story. Unlike what one would expect of a love triangle, this story has a bittersweet ending. Ilsa chooses to stay with her husband but must struggle with the heartache and pain she caused Rick. Another element that I found surprising was that the love story would be appropriate for both sexes.
It is not a ‘chick flick’ as one would expect; the looming danger of war against the Third Reich and the capitalistic or opportunistic deals of people in the Café neutralize these mushy aspects. Besides, Captain Renault makes the story less serious through his timely interjections of humor (Casablanca).
Many aspects of Casablanca are ambiguous thus heightening its appeal. No one really knows why Rick cannot go back to the US. He assists Isla, albeit painstakingly, to leave the country with her husband Lazlo. The audience never learns why Rick himself cannot go there. Perhaps he did something regrettable in his past. Additionally, Rick comments to Lazlo that he will let Ilsa pretends she loves him, yet one can never really be sure whether it is Rick who is pretending. Sadly, the audience will never know.
The director of Casablanca succeeded in almost all levels of film production. The characters were deeply committed to their roles and conveyed the complexity of their personas flawlessly. The setting was impeccable as one can imagine oneself in this exotic location. The dialogue and plot could not be better as they are not too sentimental nor too serious. Casablanca is indeed a classic motion picture.
Casablanca. Ex. Prod. Michael Curtiz film.LA: Warner Brothers. 1942. DVD.