Directed by Michael Curtiz
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergaman and Paul Henreld
Embraced in Casablanca, An American Classic
By Courtney Adkisson
For the first time (I have to admit), I have finally had the chance to watch Warner Brother’s classic Casablanca. This involved the famous characters of Rick Blaine played by Humphrey Bogart, the lovely Ilsa played by Ingrid Bergaman and the very authoritative Victor Lazlo played by Paul Henreld. After watching it, I believe there’s something throughout the film that really shines. It’s a great film for everyone who loves films as a general hobby/decompressing activity, it gives you a bit of history with a very dramatic, romantic and conflicting twists. But who doesn’t like twists?
The story itself is pretty complex if you don’t know the history. However, even with the in-depth conflicts of the war being portrayed, there is a simple story that everyone universally can understand. Rick is in love with Isla. The twist in this simple story is that she happens to be married to Lazlo. So how can he still fall in love with the girl? Well that’s when you have to watch and find out.
What’s iconic about Casablanca is the story and how it’s portrayed. Not just how the story is told written both in plot and dialogue, but also in how they execute the technical invisible aspect no one thinks of. This involves camera lighting, movements of the frame, how things are framed, etc. It actually all compliments the conflicts, the blissfulness and the overall atmosphere through the entirety of the film. For example: have you ever noticed that Rick is always more contrasted than anyone else? If you notice throughout the film, the lighting is very muted, mainly high key. However, even when you meet Rick Blaine for the first time, half of his face is shadowed. This distinct lighting is not seen on anyone else. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for a conflicted past? Maybe it’s his black and white demeanor or his ‘never stick my head out for anyone’ personality. However, the same goes with Ilsa. She is lit as if she’s a blissful fantasy. Every aspect of her lighting compliments her femininity. It also in some cases can show how much Rick actually sees her. The beautiful woman who would always come back to him and in some ways she did. If you notice the only time she is lit rather darkly or even contrast is when Rick is drinking and he looks at her with “hatred” as Isla calls it. It’s almost as if she’s feeling his remorse. Or even when Lazlo is about to head out, as they sit in the dark, it’s almost as if she’s still keeping herself of him and her secret in the dark. It’s amazing what lighting can do to capture the emotions of the story.
What’s also fantastic about this film is the simplicity of the camera. There is no composition that frames the same thing twice. That by far makes the story more interesting. Every camera angle, composition and movement has a purpose in film. In this case it was to show authority, struggle, liveliness, or even just love. Everything framed is always a compliment to the mood of the scene just as the lighting. The entirety of the film really is a classic. The costuming was on par, the acting was engaging even when simple, and it’s overall a very interesting love story. The dialogue is actually intriguing when Rick and Ilsa are around. You ever notice they always keep you guessing? Why are you here? No questions please. And the ending you’re like wow…he really does love her. All this build up in technical and artistic choices of storytelling make Casablanca is truly a sight to see. So go sit down relax, pop it rent it on Amazon and just watch the story unfold. An 8 out of 10.