Sunday, February 17, 2013

Oscar Month: Casablanca (1942)

Last year, I started a journey that I am still on. A journey through classic cinema. Before that, some of my favorite movies included Transformers and other destruction based features. And while I still like a good action film (Skyfall, Super 8 and The Dark Knight Trilogy are prime examples), I have come to appreciate a different kind of cinema. I began to look at movies in a different light. One of the films that I watched while I was looking at classic films was Casablanca. I liked the film but I didn't think it was great. A year ago, if you had asked me my favorite classic movies, the list would have been as followed: Psycho, Singin in the Rain, The Graduate, Sunset Boulevard and The Bridge on The River Kwai. But now that list would include Casablanca, a film that I love more and more each time I watch it and is closer to becoming my favorite film. Everything about it is good. I went from liking it to loving every minute of it in several viewings. Out of all of the films, I have ended up watching Casablanca the most. There is just something about it that draws me back.

If you haven't seen it, you are missing out, but here's a synopsis. The film is set in WWII. Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is a cafe owner in Casablanca, Morocco, who sticks his "neck out for nobody". Everybody wants out of Morocco to go to America because Hitler may take North Africa. One night, "of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world", Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) and her husband Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid) decide to stop into Rick's. Turns out that Ilsa and Rick have a past. Then there is the Nazi general who wants to keep Lazlo in Casablanca. Then there are the people who want to go to America. Then there's the piano player who needs to "Play it again" for Rick and Ilsa. Everything culminates in decisions for the good of mankind. 

I had a hard time writing that summary. I actually had to go to Wikipedia to look up some information. It's actually extremely difficult to describe the plot of that film. There is just so much going on and so many great storylines, it is hard to describe them all. A film like this could have ended up being a mess. But it isn't. It actually is one of the greatest films of all time. It is so rich and everything is important and you always feel like you miss something. There is so much there. Then there's the setting and the cinematography. It is all amazing and you will be in awe. 

The performances are also great. Everybody in the film is stunning, from Bergman's conflicted Ilsa to Bogart's heartbroken Rick. They are both stunning and some of the best performances ever. The script is also fantastic. I can't honestly find a single thing wrong with it. Then there is its length. It is compact and I can watch it several times without getting tired of it.

Casablanca is simply one of the greatest films of all time. You must see it or you cannot call yourself a movie fan. It is a mixture of tons of great elements and that makes for a great film. It's why we go to the movies. Casablanca is one of the greatest films of all time. 



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