Casablanca’s Best Scene Isn’t About the Romance

Casablanca’s Best Scene Isn’t About the Romance

Numerous moviegoers and critics alike think about Casablanca (1942) a masterpiece in most regards. One can be hard-pressed to discover a cinephile unfamiliar with these iconic quotes or the tortured, timeless romance of protagonists Rick (Humphrey Bogart at his most gallant) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman at her most radiant), and rightfully so. Casablanca‘s enduring significance 80 years later is a testomony to its script — concurrently glowing and dour — and an sadly nonetheless related thematic resonance.

Selecting a “greatest” scene among the many multiplicity of stand-out moments within the movie is the definition of being spoiled for selection, as a result of Casablanca actually is simply that well-written. However, one occasion distills the movie to its essence. The jiffy when the patrons of Rick’s Café defiantly sing the French nationwide anthem within the presence of Nazi officers carries layers of narrative that means and emotional grounding, evidenced via each the extras and the silent main characters. And it is all conveyed with out prioritizing Casablanca‘s bittersweet love story.

Setting the Stage for Revolution

The “dueling anthems” interrupts an argument between Bogart’s abrasive Rick and Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), Ilsa’s husband and a resistance chief needed by Germany. Rick continues to put the blame for his distress at Ilsa’s ft and her sudden reappearance with a shock partner in tow solely will increase his vitriol towards the world. He is a former insurgent with out a present trigger past his personal lonely survival, as empty as such a factor is amidst a warfare. Denying Ilsa’s husband secure journey throughout German-occupied Europe is Rick exerting what little energy his place in Casablanca affords him, and he wields it as a weapon towards the lady who left him damaged. “Ask your spouse,” Rick growls when Laszlo calls for a motive for Rick’s refusal.

All three characters (and the plot) have crashed right into a standstill that mirrors Rick’s meaningless wallowing previously and the refugees stranded in Casablanca itself. The latter are downtrodden and exhausted, trapped within the emotional cycle of hoping every day will likely be totally different as a lot as they’re bodily trapped by Germany’s domination.

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A gaggle of Nazi troopers proudly belting the German patriotic anthem “Die Wacht am Rhein” interrupts Rick and Laszlo’s confrontation. On a meta degree, the piece is an particularly heinous selection given its affiliation with the centuries-old French-German battle and the Vichy’s management over Casablanca. Narratively, it is additional emotional violence towards Rick’s refugee patrons. Rick’s jaw tightens in silent fury; his self-imposed coverage of non-interference calls for he settle for the insult and dwell to see one other day. Laszlo, in the meantime, channels his outrage by ordering the home band to “play La Marseillaise,” the French nationwide anthem.

All the institution immediately leaps to their ft and joins Laszlo’s in music, and the German Main Heinrich Strasser (an impeccable Conrad Veidt) tries and fails to overpower the peoples’ voices rising above totalitarianism. It is a socially small but immense act of defiant resistance and demonstrates the facility behind traditions and symbols. The dismayed refugees in Casablanca really feel uplifted and subsequently impressed into endurance. A shot holding on Rick’s former lover, Yvonne (Madeleine Lebeau), is particularly shifting given her romantic affiliation with a Nazi soldier and actress Lebeau’s standing as a refugee herself.

‘Casablanca’ Suggests That the Better Good Requires Private Sacrifice

Laszlo, played by Paul Henreid, leading the patrons in song in the famous La Marseillaise scene in 'Casablanca.'
Picture through Warner Bros. 

The scene’s placement inside Casablanca‘s narrative construction is not any accident. It represents the choices each the characters and society face throughout a fascist assault on freedom, much like how Yvonne needing an exterior pressure to coalescence her braveness into motion foreshadows Rick’s upcoming emotional sacrifice. Plot-wise, the second prompts Strasser to shut Rick’s and hunt Laszlo. “If Laszlo’s presence in a café can encourage this unlucky demonstration,” he says to Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains), “what extra will his presence in Casablanca convey on?” Very similar to in actual life, witnessing such unification causes the highly effective corrupt to panic.

The energetic menace towards her husband will pressure Ilsa’s hand, however as she watches him courageously lead the rapturous crowd in “La Marseillaise,” Ilsa’s a examine in concern. Initially afraid for his or her security, her face softens into affectionate admiration. She remembers the explanation she fell for him and realizes his passionate instance is price greater than the slim precedence of her private jeopardy. This second is why Ilsa belongs along with her husband, not Rick. She illustrates how sacrifices are rooted in private selection, even when Rick chooses for her and remaining with Laszlo is a reality she wants time to grasp.

“La Marseillaise” additionally marks the catalyst for Rick’s evolution. He acknowledges how Laszlo ignites hope and that one man may change the course of the warfare — so long as this one lady stays by his facet. Admiring the love of his life’s husband is a pivotal shift in Rick’s reignited morality and the first motive he lets the couple go and rejoins the struggle with conviction. Rick is, in spite of everything, at coronary heart a sentimentalist; he at all times remembered the distinction between proper and fallacious beneath that merciless, narcissistic shell. He had simply capitulated to his personal grief in tandem with obeying Germany’s overwhelming pressure. Re-embracing his rebellious nature means surrendering Ilsa and making himself weak once more as a substitute of a man-made isolationist island. Ultimately, hiding his head underneath the metaphorical sand helps nobody, least of all himself.

Though circuitously said (Casablanca’s script avoids lazy explanations), the dueling anthems additionally mark the turning level for Captain Renault, who up thus far was a spineless collaborator profiteering off others’ drawback. His prior actions are indefensible, but Rains’ infuriatingly charming efficiency turns Renault right into a fellow sentimentalist about his one and solely good friend. Rick’s decisions pressure Renault out of his inaction. Setting apart his straightforward life and affluent corruption does not erase his earlier laissez-faire practices, however his contributions to the warfare effort are totally different from Rick’s and born from totally different causes. Sacrifice does not at all times equate to shedding the individualism of braveness.

A lot Like ‘Casablanca’ Itself, the “La Marseillaise” Scene Prioritizes the Wider World

Cafe patrons sing “La Marseillaise” in 'Casablanca'
Picture through Warner Bros.

When the correct script meets the correct creatives on the proper time, film magic can work wonders. Nobody concerned with Casablanca anticipated a movie churned out by the Hollywood system throughout the uncertainty of World Conflict II to make an enduring affect. The “La Marseillaise” scene could contain the romance’s members, however it is not about them — its focus is the broader movie, identical to the characters put aside their ambitions when demanded by the next calling. Its deliberate modifying and thematic resonance represents the whole lot that makes Casablanca nonetheless affecting, and actually one of many biggest movies ever made.

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