Casablanca: Casablanca and Michael Curtiz Essay

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Ngan Nguyen
FLM 102 WB
Prof. Kevin Finnigan
Unit Two Writing Assignment
“As Time Goes By”
There is no mystery that “Casablanca”, produced in 1942 by Michael Curtiz, is one of the most popular films ever made. The film reflects the early days of World War II by capturing the United States' perception of itself in the 1940s, cynical yet altruistic, independent yet worldly, idealistic yet naïve.
It’s an extremely well told story about a man who sacrifices love for greater commitment. Rick Blaine, an exiled American and former freedom fighter, runs the most popular nightspot in Casablanca during the early days of World War II. He later discovers his old flame Ilsa in town with her husband, Victor Laszlo, a Czechoslovak underground leader. Much to Rick's surprise, Ilsa comes to ask Rick to help them get out of the country, accompanied by unforeseen complications.
The film was shot entirely on Hollywood sets of Warner Bros. collaborative studio production using studio actors, directors, and writers. With its black-and-white enthusiasm and marvelous male and female lead, Casablanca is a film to remind us why we always go back to Hollywood, and why we call it "the dream factory."
Casablanca is a very simplistic film based on an unremarkable stage play, shot on a modest budget, and released with no one involved with its production expected it to be anything out of the ordinary. It’s the thought of the natural appeal it would carry for its wartime audiences living the horrors of World War II that creates a relatable affection. Casablanca may be a classic Hollywood film, but it lacks a classic Hollywood ending, in which Rick and Ilsa ride happily into the sunset together. Nevertheless it’s that twisted and complicated ending what gives the film a lasting enchantment. Rick and Ilsa have to split up a second time without truly knowing what the other is thinking. Ilsa tells Rick that her preference is for him but in the end she leaves with Laszlo; thus her true love remains a mystery.
Rick and Ilsa’s last conversation is one of the most memorable dialogues from the entire Classic Hollywood cinemas:
“…Ilsa: You're saying this only to make me go.
Rick: I'm saying it because it's true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that.
Rick: Now, now...
Rick: Here's looking at you kid…”
The film’s noir dialogues are interesting, compelling and beautiful in its own way; it’s something we don’t quite get to see anymore nowadays. The subtleties of the character are played out in the way they speak. Bogart’s delivery also perfects the iconic dialogue; they wouldn’t be so brilliant if another actor read those lines.
Besides dialogues, the opening voice-over narration is another typical narrative-functional device used in Casablanca. At the film's beginning, the credits are displayed over a political map of Africa; a voice-over explains the Nazi takeover of Europe, the coming of World War II, the political refugees fleeing Hitler, and the importance of Casablanca, where the story is set. This narration initiates an emotional connection between the audience and the characters, makes it easier for the audience to follow; thus makes itself the most favorite style of narration in the Classical Hollywood moviemaking. As the film develops, the audience also develops a feeling that they can relate to Rick, because they mostly see from the perspective of Rick