Saturday, September 12, 2009

Casablanca (Review)

     I say this without hesitation; "Casablanca" is the greatest movie of all time. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains, "Casablanca" is the quintessential movie.

     "Casablanca" is both a World War II drama and a simultaneously tragic and happy love story. Set in unoccupied French Morocco during the early days of World war II, shortly after the Nazi Invasion of France, "Casablanca" is about an American, Rick Blane, a stoic, mysterious figure who owns and runs Rick's Café Américain, (The inspiration for the title of this blog) a popular night spot in Casablanca. "Everybody comes to Rick's," including Rick's ex lover, Ilsa, accompanied by fleeing resistance leader Victor Laszlo. From there, there is a murder mystery, complex webs of relationships between the three afore mentioned main characters, and, in the end, love lost, love found, redemption, and "the start of a beautiful friendship."

     The acting, as well as the actors, are all top notch. The directing is superb. The characters are all fully developed, three dimensional individuals, each with complex sets of motivations who grow and change throughout the course of the movie.

     Bogart plays Rick Blaine, the owner and proprietor of Rick's Café Américain in Casablanca during the early days of World War II. Rick is a strong character; Absolute master of his domain. He's also a character who is hiding in Casablanca. Running away both from his native America and from his broken heart, Rick is a character who has tired of fighting the good fight and had found a safe haven from the war and romance in Casablanca.

     Bergman plays Ilsa Lund, a young, naive girl who traveled from her home in Oslo to Paris where she and Rick enjoy a time of carefree romance and no questions.

     Henreid plays Victor Laszlo, a leader in the resistance, who is being perused by the Nazis. He arrives in Casablanca with Ilsa, and the intricately woven back stories and complex interactions of these characters begin there. I'm not going to ruin this movie with too many details after that, but each of these characters has a past haunting them, and all of them being pulled by multiple sets of loyalties.

     Claude Rains quite expertly plays the almost comical Captain Louis Renault, Perfect of Police in Casablanca. While he is the least developed main character, He, like all the other main characters, has his motivations and ends up changing, for the better, in the end.

     Over sixty-five years old, "Casablanca" has withstood the test of time. Most films that old feel dated or quaint. "Casablanca" can stand next to any modern World War II film and hold its own. It is truly a masterpiece and I can, without hesitation, recommend watching this film.

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