Saturday, May 15, 2010

And so I Begin

Casablanca - 1944, USA

Recommended by: Amanda and Desiree

A couple people have asked what my first movie would be for this project of mine. I always sort of assumed it would be Requiem for a Dream, since it is the first movie I put on my list.

But as I sat here at my computer last night, I felt restless, and felt like I needed to start on this project of mine. And I felt like watching Casablanca. I wanted to watch a love story, and more importantly, I wanted to watch a tragic love story. Ultimately, this was a movie about sacrifice. Rick loved Ilsa. Ilsa loved Rick. Maybe they would have been happy together…maybe they wouldn’t have. But they’ll never get a chance to find out, because both of them made sacrifices that were, perhaps, for the best. In Paris, Ilsa didn’t leave with Rick because she received word that her husband, Victor was alive and hiding in Paris. At the end, Rick refused to leave with Ilsa because he told her, in the iconic line, that she would regret it if she stayed, "maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life." And Victor sacrificed too. He begged Rick to take Ilsa to America because he loved her so much, he just wanted her to be safe, even if she was with another man.

During my first year of University, I wrote a paper on film censorship for my Academic Writing class. I focused on the Hays Code, which set the “moral” standards that films had to maintain. This code was in effect until 1968, when the MPAA rating system was put into effect. One of the principles stated that “the sanctity of marriage and the home had to be upheld”. So, according to this code, Ilsa could never end up with Rick. I must wonder: would the ending change today? I hope not. I love the tragedy of it, and the sacrifice involved from all parties. Plus she married Victor before she met Rick, so surely she must love him?

I read in the Wikipedia article that the film was colourized in the 80’s. What a crime. When I was watching the movie, my Mom teased me, and remarked that I needed to “adjust the TV” because it wasn’t in colour. But while I was watching the movie, I found myself admiring the cinematography, and the striking contrast between the black and the white. It was gorgeous. There are screenshots from the colourized version on Wikipedia, and it takes away so much, in my opinion.

So why hadn’t I seen it before? I’ve seen very few “classic” films. An ongoing theme of this project will be me rectifying all of my “cinematic embarrassments”. I’ve seen a good number of films from about 2003 onwards, but there are many important and respected movies from before that time that I’ve just never seen. Part of it is the fact that I love going to the theatre, and often, if I don’t see a movie in the theatre, it’s months or even years before I catch it. I love the experience of sitting in a dark theatre, watching a movie on a big screen, and experiencing it with a group of people. Last year, I saw something like 50 movies in the theatre. This year, I haven’t gone nearly that often. I probably won’t go all that often, but I fully intend on seeing a few movies at the theatre. I will just need to prioritize them.

So movie number 1 is down. 199 more to go. I’m feeling pumped, and ready to watch more!


  1. That's not a lot of movies. heheh. A lot of movies to write about, sure. Writing a plot synopsis can be tedious.

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  3. Casablanca is a great film, although I don't really enjoy watching it. I find it to move waaaaay to slow, but the acting is on a whole other level.

    Fun fact, Pamela Anderson starred in a movie called Barb Wire (1996) which is a post-apocalyptic remake of Casablanca and it is set in a strip club instead of a bar. And it is awful! Except for a pretty cool/original action scene involving a car, a forklift and a crane at the end.

  4. The acting was outstanding!

    And I did not know this. That movie sounds like a train wreck! But I may have to watch it, so I have something to compare Casablanca to.

  5. Casablanca is one of my all time favorites. I agree about the coloring, I just ignore that version. I still get teary eyed during the German/French music bit...I really also love the lighting in the film, especially the shadow usage in the safe scene.

  6. I got teary eyed during that scene too! I thought the lighting was just lovely, everyone's faces were illuminated very well, and the entire movie just looked beautiful.