There’s really just one word that comes to mind when I think of Casablanca: elegant. It’s a very classy movie, and I mean that in the best sense possible. It has this inescapable atmosphere and tone, melded into a very tight, beautifully written script. It’s clearly a classic in every sense of the word.
I knew Casablanca was a classic romantic film, but I didn’t realize it had this political thriller edge to it. Humphrey Bogart stars as Rick, an American living in the titular city, running a popular night club. One night, Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman, shows up. This would make most men do a double take, but Ilsa is the former lover of Rick, and is trying to escape Nazi capture with her new man. The story works on many different levels, but I particularly appreciated the political side of things, which really hits its stride near the end of the film. It’s a surprisingly thrilling film alongside the dramatic romance Casablanca is famous for.
The other surprising element of this film was its sense of humour, which came directly from Bogart’s performance. Obviously it’s not laugh out loud hilarious, but there’s a level of wit in the tight and lively dialogue that impresses and pleases. Both leads in Casablanca are stunning. The film could not be the same without them. They portray their relationship with an amazing amount of honesty, despite it being a very grandiose and heightened one. The performances are really the heart and soul of this film, and I haven’t even mentioned the supporting cast, which is just as amazing. I think any one who has seen this movie can agree Sam is the best.
The black and white beauty of Casablanca is another star. Each set is so magnificently designed and shot, it’s a wonder to observe. The hazy streets, crowded bars and murky airstrips all create the atmosphere I mentioned at the top. If the plot wasn’t so strong, Casablanca could probably work as a mood piece, it’s tone is so memorable and enthralling, and stays with you long after the film is over.
Casablanca is such a memorable film, it’s easy to see why it’s considered one of the greats, and how it has influenced cinema history. It’s script is perfect, with masterfully written dialogue, powerful relationships and a great, multi-layered story. It’s also one of those films that’s difficult to discuss after just one watch, but I know I’ll be revisiting it sometime very soon.