Monday, 11 January 2010

Casablanca, and why I found it a fine film indeed

Yesterday I finally got around to watching that all-time classic film Casablanca. My guy told me I had to see it and after some pestering from him I did. I enjoyed it immensely. After the dark and grey, gritty things I had seen recently (Firefly, 9, Avatar…) the black and white images of Casablanca were a relief for the senses. Those were the days of film making!

Okay, I admit that after a while I wanted to slap Ilsa across the cheek and tell her to think for herself for a minute dammit! Okay, I admit that halfway through I wanted to throw some cold water over Humphrey’s face and tell him to get himself together man! But those are cultural differences. The past is, after all, another country.

In short: I loved the film. I loved how it presented its story. I loved how the characters were charming or convincing or downright funny. I loved the imagery of the film, and I loved its music. I loved how the film was set in its own time: usually in films about the war there is already a shadow of things to come. Not in this case because they didn’t know at the time how the war would develop.

Laszlo’s imprisonment in a concentration camp: it was presented as a long internment in a maximum security prison because nobody in Hollywood knew what went on in those camps at the time. Or what was going to happen. It’s an amazing blissful ignorance. Consequently Germans are only depicted as rude oafs and not as the vicious cruel men they would become in all Hollywood productions not much later.

Related to ‘the past is another country’: I must admit that I also loved seeing an onscreen romance without sex. Clothes stayed on. I am no prude but am I really the only one who gets fed up with characters immediately tearing each other’s clothes off because they happen to be male, female and approximately the same age? The peer pressure for anyone finding him or herself in an adventurous situation must be killing. "Oh look, we have a few minutes to spare before the alien invasion / grand shoot-out / criminal heist of the century. Well there’s nothing to it but to have sex now, no matter how tired, injured, or hateful we are. Here goes!" Gah.

1 comment:

  1. I can quote parts of this movie verbatim. Like, "Major, there are certain parts of New York I wouldn't advise you to invade."
    Captain Renault's "I am shocked, SHOCKED that gambling is going on in this cafe" is still used by Washington politicians to point out their opponents' hypocrisy.
    I also love that when questioned, the viewing audience (then and now) almost universally feel that Viktor Laszlo is a douchebag and Rick is a great guy.