Monday, February 11, 2008
We'll Always Have Paris
Director: Michael Curtiz
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman
and Claude Reins
Since Valentine's Day is only growing nearer and nearer, it would be ultimately unjust not to include this classic. I had a few other movies in mind, Breakfast at Tiffany's but I had less to say about that movie. Match Point was another, but that's a dark movie about how love consumes us, so I figured I'd review it later. But Casablanca, that is a must for this day of love.
Set during World War II, Casablanca tells the story of Rick Blane, a man who runs a small cafe in Casablanca. During this point in time, Europeans were fleeing left and right, trying hard to escape from the Nazis, only problem is they aren't able to obtain exit visas. Rick is told by one of his acquaintances, Ugarte to hold some exit visas, for he is in great danger if the Nazis catch him with the visas. Two Nazis were killed holding these and the visas were stolen. When Rick hears that Victor Laszlo, the leader of the European resistance is to arrive at Casablanca. Only he doesn't know that he is in love with Ilsa, Rick's old flame from Paris.
What Casablanca gets right is that it is both a romantic and a memorable movie. The scenes in it are classic, the lines are just timeless. What makes this movie so enjoyable is that it is romantic, but not sappy. Sweet, but not melodramatic. But of all of the scenes that this movie has to offer, two stand out.
One is the scene where Ilsa finds Sam, the piano player of the cafe and asks him to play the song that she and Rick held close to their hearts. As soon as Sam starts playing, Rick tells him to stop and as soon as he sees Ilsa, he goes into a flashback that examines their romantic past, and how they were split apart. Though often quoted, the line "Play it Again, Sam" never appears in the film.
Second would have to be when the Nazis, led by Major Strasser begin to sing "Die Wacht am Rhein" the Nazi anthem, only to be drowned out by the French people in the cafe who begin to sing "La Marseillaise" it is so perfect you must see it to understand its true beauty.
Finally, this movie is also a romantic classic because of it's heartbreaking ending. To describe it is hard to talk about unless you have seen the movie, because you will not see it coming. (Caution: MAJOR Spoilers, highlight only if you've seen the movie!) When Rick and Ilsa are standing right by the plane, the plane that will take two lucky people out of war torn Casablanca, Rick does one of the most heartbreaking things in movie history, let her go. He tells her to get on the plane and says, 'We'll always have Paris." It is then you know that though they had a time, it would be a mistake to make Ilsa stay.
In short, Casablanca is a classic movie that is second to none, one of the best romantic classics. It is moving, it is beautiful, and it is timeless. And the final line, "This is the Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship" is said by Bogart with such gusto and emotion that all you want to do is join his friendship forever, as time goes by.