Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rain
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Released by: Warner Bros.
Synopsis: Just as the world is facing the wrath of World War II, Casablanca becomes both a prison and a refuge for many victims of war. Cynical and cold man Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) runs a night club where its patrons think up ways of escaping while trying to have fun. But when the ghosts of his past haunt him with the arrival of his past love Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), he must now choose between her love and fighting against the enemy forces.
Review: Many film experts have declared Casablanca to be one of the best romance films of all time. While I won't argue with that notion, to me Casablanca is more than a love story. The film speaks a lot about the values of freedom and patriotism during the war, and presents many of its characters as victims of a battle between the world's forces. It gives the movie a lot of depth that at first is unseen. This creates some of the best scenes and lines ever committed to film.
That's not to say that the love story is superfluous to the plot as it's definitely one of the biggest driving forces in the film. This is thanks to some great performances by Humprey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as Rock and Ilsa respectively. Both are well developed characters whose passion is felt throughout the story. Rick in particular is a well developed character. Easily mistaken for the tough guy stereotype, Rick is actually a very complex character who is severely affected by the war as well as the betrayal of his true love. He is forced between each persona, and his decisions ultimately affect the outcome of the story. The scene in which Rick is drinking his pain away after the bar has closed perfectly presents this side of his persona. Ilsa is also a great female lead with just as much complexity as the male lead character, being forced to leave Rick behind for the sake of freedom. It's these elements that make the film one of the best romances ever conceived.
But like I explained already, Casablanca is more than just a great love story. It's a fantastic war story set in a beautiful and exotic land. The grandiose settings aid the film in its authenticity, giving us a memorable setting to accompany the already epic storyline. The supporting characters also give the film important plot points and expand on the film's ideals. We see all sides of the war, from the enemy forces to the victims caught in the turmoil. Each side adds significantly to the story, giving us clear characters to cheer for as well as detest.
In there's something to talk against the film, though, is that some plot points deal heavily with the war, making it at times hard to follow and might confuse the average viewer. There is also a slight problem with pacing. Some scenes tend to go on for a while without anything significant happening, and then we are thrown back into the melodramatic scenes. These two things make a film that at times is hard to follow.
Despite the presence of these small flaws it doesn't ruin the achievement that is Casablanca. The storyline, hailed as one of the greatest romance stories ever, is successful at being multifaceted. It presents us a great love story as well as a war story, giving us very intriguing characters that we care for and strive to be in our daily lives.
Rating: 4 filmstrips out of 5