Casa Blanca Key Scenes
After the French Resistance agent is shot the camera points upward respectfully at the words “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” at the entrance to a building, the Palais de Justice, suggesting that these are the values we should aspire to. There is a sense of hope in the people looking up at the plane, especially the young couple we see towards the end of this scene. ”Perhaps tomorrow we’ll be on that plane”. Cultural Context: The opening music has elements of a North African flavour – to go with the map of Africa prominent in the opening credits. The theme ends with the French National anthem, suggesting that a French/African (i. . North African) setting or context is involved. The last notes suggest danger and threat. The narrator’s voice over provides useful information on the cultural context: “With the coming of the second world war many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully or desperately towards the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation point. But not everybody could get to Lisbon directly, and so, a tortuous, roundabout refugee trail sprung up. Paris to Marseille, across the Mediterranean to Oran, then by train, or auto, or foot, across the rim of Africa, to Casablanca in French Morocco.
Here the fortunate ones, through money or influence or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon, and from Lisbon to the New World. But others wait in Casablanca, and wait —- and wait —- and wait”. With this voice over we get a revolving globe, then a flat map to indicate where the context fits in global terms. We also get footage of refugees on the move, giving more texture to the words. As the map fades we get a shot of a minaret (tower beside a mosque), suggesting the Muslim context of North Africa. The busy shot of the teeming street full of traders further enhances ur sense of the place – there are many Muslims in the picture, but the signs on shops are in French, again suggesting the colonial background. As the script puts it: “The facades of the Moorish buildings give way to a narrow twisting street crowded with the polyglot life of a native quarter. The intense desert sun holds the scene in a torpid tranquillity”. The second world war background is emphasised by the shot of a policeman reading an urgent newsflash – German couriers murdered, “suspicious characters” to be rounded up. These are Europeans or Westerners, one of whom is shot trying to escape.
Casa Blanca Key Scenes Essay Example
He had been carry French resistance leaflets, giving us a further insight into the war context. In the background we see a poster of Marshal Petain, leader of the Vichy Government that collaborated with the Nazis. The confusion of the place, especially for foreigners is shown by the couple at the cafe – “We hear very little and we understand even less”. We hear about the “customary roundup of refugees” and there’s a hint of the exploitation inherent in this kind of context – beautiful girls included in the roundup, for Monsieur Renault, the Police Chief.
The expected crime in such a context is also there – the European who pickpockets. Ironically he had previously spoken of the “scum” and “vultures” who have “gravitated” to Casablanca. At the end of the scene we are again reminded of the war context by the arrival of the German officer. Relationships: Not much of interest yet. There’s a strong suggestion that Renault is exploiting vulnerable women, while we see a romantic couple hoping to get out of Casablanca by plane – a genuine relationship contrasted with relationships based on exploitation and abuse of power. 2. Ilsa and Laszlo visit Rick’s for the first time
Relationships: When Ilsa comes into the bar she exchanges some knowing glances with Sam, Rick’s pianist suggesting a past relationship of some kind. Considering when the film was made (1942) this wasn’t going to be anything between Ilsa and Sam, so the implication seems to be that there was a past relationship with Rick. The song As Time Goes By acts as a kind of symbol or shorthand to suggest this – Ilsa asks Sam to play it, but we learn that Rick had told him never to play it – presumably because of the fact that it evoked painful memories of a past and failed relationship.
Sam suggests that Ilsa is bad luck for Rick. When Rick and Ilsa meet they are in company and so cannot be frank with each other. We have to read between the lines, to guess from tone and body language what was going on. Rick is obviously sore at Ilsa but still interested enough to make him break his rule about not drinking with customers. The fact that she asks Sam to play their song from Paris suggests she still has an interest more than mere curiosity. Laszlo and Ilsa seem to get on well. She shows concern for his safety and we know that he plans to take her away to freedom if they can get out of Casablanca.
Laszlo seems unconcerned about his wife’s past relationship with Rick (assumes it was just an acquaintance presumably) and doesn’t seem to notice the chemistry between Rick and Ilsa. There’s no sense that Rick has any resentment towards Laszlo as a rival, in fact he praises his political work – “I congratulate you … We all try. You succeed”. Cultural Context: More aspects of the cultural context are filled in here. The jazz music in the bar provides an American flavour, appropriate to “Rick’s Cafe Americain”.
Laszlo subtly hints at some political realities – hinting to Renault that the present French administration has not always been as cordial as Renault is now. He refers to life in a concentration camp by hinting to the Norwegian that one tends to loose weight in such a place. The underground resistance movement is represented this time by the Norwegian, whose front is selling jewellery. The international flavour on this context is again highlighted by the variety of nationalities – Rick the white American, Sam the black American, Laszlo the Czech, Renault the Frenchman, the Norwegian underground man, Major Strasser the German.
The cultural context of the time, the same as the context in which the film was made is evident in the way Ilsa refers to Sam as the “boy”, but she doesn’t mean any offence, nor is any taken. At the time in films black people would only be shown in menial roles (including entertainment), and wouldn’t be the main characters. The culture of bribery is shown by Renault’s being allowed to tear up bills he incurs at Rick’s. General Vision and Viewpoint Obviously we’re meant to admire the work of Victor Laszlo. Rick, the main character, expresses admiration for his work – “we try, you succeed”.
It must be special if Rick, who usually seems cynical, admires it. Laszlo is set up in opposition to the Nazis who are presented as nasty militaristic bullies. Especially in a film made during the war, and considering the nature of the Second World War, we are obviously meant to see the Germans as the bad guys, and those who oppose them as the good guys, and this includes Laszlo. Sam says that Ilsa brings bad luck to Rick, but there is no sign that the viewpoint of the film goes with such a superstitious attitude (interesting that it’s the black person who is superstitious).
If anything the film is about the free choices people make and the consequences of those choices. 3. Rick’s Flashback to Paris Theme or Issue: Relationships This scene returns us to an earlier, happier phase in the relationship between Rick and Ilsa. We see this in their happy smiling faces – e. g. when they are driving. It’s obviously a romantic relationship. There’s plenty of kissing, dancing, romantic conversation, flowers etc Having Paris as a backdrop adds to the romantic atmosphere. This is reflected also in the happy music.
The music sounds a note of threat when the Germans’ arrival in Paris is imminent. We see what can happen to a relationship under threat from outside forces (“With the whole world crumbling we pick this time to fall in love”). It doesn’t damage the relationship; they react in a way to protect it – planning to escape. However we also see how a relationship can be threatened by secrets within the relationship. Both accept they don’t know much about each other’s past – but Ilsa tells Rick there was a man in her life but he’s dead.
This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but there’s something wrong – at their last meeting Rick is enthusiastic about their plans to escape and even proposes marriage, but she’s obviously uneasy about something. She, at least, senses the separation – is she agonising (as in the present) whether she’ll go with Rick or stay with Victor? ) “…if something should keep us apart”. We see the breakdown of a relationship when Rick is left at the station without Ilsa – only a letter that doesn’t really explain her motives for not turning up. There’s obviously something going on that Rick doesn’t know about.
We see what a severe effect this abandonment by Ilsa has on Rick in his reaction at the station, and even more so in how upset he still is in the present – shown by the way he is just before and just after the flashback. We learn that relationships can be hard to let go – in the bar just before the flashback Rick says that he knows she’ll come back Cultural Context Many aspects of the cultural context are conveyed in this sequence. Stock footage of the Arch de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, along with scenes of Rick and Ilsa at the cafe show that it’s Paris.
The announcements over the loudspeakers and the newspaper headlines fill us in on the war background – the Germans about to take over Paris. The takeover is conveyed simply by the announcements being in French the first time we hear them, and then later in German. The atmosphere of intrigue is suggested by Rick’s being wanted by the Germans, with a price on his head – it’s never quite clear why. The difficulties of keeping a romantic relationship going in such a context is conveyed subtly by the way we hear shelling as Rick and Ilsa embrace – Ilsa says: “I hate this war so much.
Oh it’s a crazy world. Anything can happen”. There’s a strong sense of tension when the German arrival is announced – we can see it in the streets, and especially in the crowds at the station as people rush to escape. General Vision and Viewpoint The film views war as a bad thing – causing stress, danger, tension – by contrast there’s a happy mood before the German invasion.. The invasion is seen in terms of bullying – “They are telling us how to act when they come marching in” (Ilsa interpreting the announcements). We see stock footage of the aggression – the German army on the march.
The romance between Rick and Ilsa is seen as something happy and good. The film sees it as sad, tragic or unfortunate that Rick and Ilsa split – he is seen as being very upset, and the rain emphasises the mood. . 4. Rick and Ilsa meet after the flashback Theme or Issue: Relationships In this exchange we see there can often be bitterness in a relationship, and how alcohol can have a damaging effect when introduced into a relationship. Rick has been drinking a lot, feeling sorry for himself and is unpleasant to Ilsa, who, we learn in the later market scene (see below), came to explain why she left him in Paris.
She is upset and tearful at his harsh talk – “Why did you have to come to Casablanca? There are other places”. He describes himself as a guy whose “insides had been kicked out”. He is cynical towards here: “Tell me, who was it you left me for? Was it Laszlo, or were there others in between? ”. We learn more about the relationship between Ilsa and Laszlo – on her part it seems to have been more a case of admiration. To her he was “a man about whom she’d heard her whole life, a very great and courageous man”. She describes herself as “a girl” who “looked up to him and worshipped him with a feeling she supposed was love”.
Rick is dismissive: “I’ve heard a lot of stories in my time”. There is a hint that Ilsa is unsure who she should be with – “I don’t know the finish yet”. This love triangle revolves mostly around Ilsa – Rick and Laszlo don’t interact very much and there’s no sign of jealousy or aggression between them. 5. Rick and Ilsa meet at the market Theme or Issue: Relationships There’s a different dynamic about this meeting. Rick is in an apologetic mood – “I’m sorry I was in no condition to receive you when you called on me last night”.
Ilsa is more distant, not emotional – “It doesn’t matter”. We see how relationships can change – “The Rick I knew in Paris, I could tell him. He’d understand. But the one who looked at me with such hatred [previous key scene] …” We also see the importance of memories in relationships – “We knew very little about each other when we were in love in Paris. If we leave it that way maybe we’ll remember those days and not Casablanca, not last night”. Sometimes revelations are key moments in a relationship – Ilsa tells Rick that Laszlo is her husband, and was so when they were in Paris.
Rick seems stunned by this news, though Ilsa had told him in Paris that she had a man before but he had died. At this stage he may not realise that the dead man and Laszlo are the same person. 6. Ilsa and Laszlo at the Blue Parrot Theme or Issue: Relationships We get insights in this scene into the relationship between Ilsa and Laszlo. We see their dedication, love and concern for each other. She won’t leave Casablanca without him. For her sake he wants her to go on alone, even pretending unconvincingly that if the situation were reversed he’d go alone. Ilsa’s smile shows she doesn’t believe him.
She reminds him of times he had a chance to escape and wouldn’t go without her, even though he was “in danger every minute of the time”. Laszlo declares his love: “I love you very much, Ilsa”. 7. The Nazis Visit Rick’s Cultural Context There’s a lot going on in this scene – the high point is the clash of songs – when the French drown out the German song with La Marseillaise. In a way it’s a clash of cultural contexts (which could describe the whole war), conveyed through music. We see the French finding their courage to stand up to the Germans. The clash surfaces in other ways e. . the fight between the French soldier and the German soldier who is with Yvonne. Also Rick asks Renault if he’s “pro-Vichy or Free French”, but Renault is evasive: “the subject is closed”. We see that loyalty is a hot issue and crucial value in this cultural context. Later Strasser asks Renault a similar question and this time he gives a more direct, but yet non-committal, answer – “I have no conviction … I blow with the wind and the prevailing winds happens to be from Vichy”. The issue of Rick’s political loyalties are brought up by Laszlo when they meet upstairs.
Rick says he’s “not interested in politics”, but Laszlo has heard he ran guns to Ethiopia and fought against the fascists in Spain, “always … fighting on the side of the underdog”. We see an example of this when Rick helps the Bulgarian couple to get money to escape by letting the husband win at roulette. The fact that the wife was being pressurised to have a fling with Renault, and was seriously considering it, shows how morally muddled this cultural context is and how it drives people to desperation. Once again America is held out as the ideal destination, the desirable cultural context.
The Bulgarian couple were trying to get there and the older German couple are particularly enthusiastic as they are leaving for America the next day. Presumably it’s the freedom from war and oppression that attracts them. General Vision and Viewpoint The clash of songs highlights the vision and viewpoint most strongly. We’re obviously meant to cheer with the French as the singing of the nasty Nazis is drowned out. We see the approval of the main and likeable characters – Rick gives the nod to the band to play the Marseillaise, Laszlo starts it and Ilsa looks proudly at him as he sings.
It’s a kind of patriotic high – even Yvonne, who came in with a German soldier, joins in proudly and tearfully – a scene that is meant to move us. We are presumably meant to approve of Rick’s favour to the Bulgarian couple (e. g. we see the cafe staff being very positive about it). While Renault can be pleasant there’s a sense of relief that isn’t allowed to take advantage of the wife, and his political pragmatism (“I blow with the wind”) isn’t necessarily approved. Themes or Issue – Relationships:
The soreness Rick feels about what Ilsa did to him surfaces when the Bulgarian wife talks about her husband’s love – “Nobody ever loved me that much”. He risks revealing the true nature of the relationship in Paris – when Laszlo wonders why he won’t sell them the exit permits he says: “ask your wife”, which puzzles Laszlo. We see Ilsa showing great pride in Laszlo’s stand against the German song, but this again suggests admiration more than romantic love. Another variation on the theme of Romantic love is shown in the relationship of the Bulgarian couple (Jan and Annina).
The are a young married couple, very much in love (like Rick and Ilsa in Paris? Or Ilsa and Laszlo when the first married? ). But the danger of secrets in a relationship (as with Rick and Ilsa) becomes an issue when Annina considers an affair with Renault to get money without ever telling her husband – what she calls “this bad thing locked in her heart”. Rick helps her avoid this by letting the husband win at roulette. 8. Ilsa and Laszlo after visit to Rick’s Theme and Issue: Relationships We learn more of the relationship between Ilsa and Laszlo.
Laszlo is very gentle and patient – not pressurising her to say what was going on with Rick, offering her understanding – asking if she was lonely in Paris, and telling how he was lonely too. Probably he suspects what happened, but doesn’t want to force the issue. She chooses to keep the secret – says she has nothing to say. With more volatile people this may have put the relationship under severe pressure. Their relationship is more affectionate than passionate – e. g. the way they kiss, compared to the way it was between Ilsa and Rick in Paris. Ilsa again seems to look at Laszlo in admiration.
She seems unsure who to go with – “Whatever I do …. ”. Laszlo doesn’t over react to that. Perhaps it could be said he’s more or at least equally interested in and devoted to the political work – he’s off to an underground meeting. Much of the time they talk in the dark – suggesting the threat that hangs over the relationship. 9. Ilsa and Rick meet at his place Theme and Issue: Relationships The love triangle relationship is coming to a head in this scene. Ilsa comes to Rick to beg for the exit permits, and when that fails (Rick is again bitter and cynical with her, and she calls him a coward) she pulls a gun on him but isn’t able to shoot.
Finally she breaks down and admits she still loves him, and explains what happened in Paris – finding out that day that Laszlo was still alive, in Paris and in need of her help as he was ill. So the bitterness on Rick’s part was based on a misunderstanding, which often happens in a relationship. She kept the truth about why she didn’t leave Paris from Rick to protect him (he’d have stayed if he knew and got caught by the Gestapo) and kept the marriage a secret because Laszlo wanted it that way to protect her.
We see how people can be confused in a relationship – Ilsa says: “I wish I didn’t love you so much”, and that she doesn’t know what’s right or wrong anymore and wants Rick to make the decision “for both of us, for all of us”. Perhaps it’s rationalising when she says she “can’t fight it anymore”, that she’d “never have the strength” to leave Rick again. In her relationships she wants to avoid choice (and guilt? ), letting Rick (rather than Laszlo) make her decision. Rick agrees to do this but it’s not clear at this stage what his decision is.
There are several possibilities – he keeps the permits so that Ilsa and Laszlo have to stay in Casablanca (his original intention); he gives the permits so that Ilsa and Laszlo can leave (what Laszlo at first and then Ilsa want him to do, and in fact what he finally does); he lets Laszlo go and holds on to Ilsa (the solution that Ilsa seems to be gravitating towards); Ilsa goes alone and Laszlo finds a way out later (what Laszlo wanted when they were negotiating with Ferrari); Rick and Ilsa go, leaving Laszlo behind (what seems to be happening until the very end).
All this goes to show how complicated relationships can get, especially a love triangle like this. 10. Ending (at the airport) Theme or Issue – Relationships: Things get complicated as they often do in relationships, but it is more the plot twists that are complicated – the basic nature of the relationships hasn’t really changed – the characters still feel the same about each other (keeping in mind that Rick has overcome his bitterness because of Ilsa’s explanation of what happened in Paris). Now it’s down to the choices people make. Ilsa wanted Rick to make the choices and he has done so.
It seemed like he had chosen at first that Ilsa and himself would go leaving Laszlo behind, or as Ilsa seems to see it that they would get Laszlo to go on alone and that they would stay behind. Whatever he may have planned or considered Rick now has other plans – insisting that Ilsa and Laszlo go, and that he should stay. He chooses what’s right (morally? politically? film wise? ) despite the rekindling of his relationship with Ilsa. In what he says at the airport it’s hard to know when he’s stating what he really believes or what he reckons will persuade Ilsa to go.
In a sense the love triangle is dismissed by Rick: “the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”. And yet human relationship is still valued – Rick arranges for Ilsa and Laszlo to be together (just for political reasons? ) – “inside of us we both know you belong with Victor. You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going”. And he also shows he values his relationship with Ilsa: “We’ll always have Paris”. To make the relationship between Ilsa and Laszlo easier he plays this down when alking to Laszlo: “that was all over long ago. For your sake she pretended it wasn’t, and I let her pretend”. Once again there is no overt rivalry between Rick and Laszlo – they shake hands and Laszlo is grateful – “Thanks. I appreciate it”. We see in this scene how in relationships a parting can be painful. Counterbalancing this, to an extent, is the progression of the relationship between Rick and Renault. Up to now it has seemed a cat and mouse relationship, each using the other for personal gain, swapping favours (e. g.
Renault allowing the gambling in Rick’s, Rick allowing him to win at roulette), making bets (over whether Laszlo will escape). In this scene they find a common patriotism – Renault: “ … you’ve become a patriot”. Rick: “ … it seemed like a good time to start”. Renault: “I think perhaps you’re right”. Though earlier he had been prepared to betray Rick to Strasser, now he covers up for Rick. We see that relationships can take interesting and unexpected turns – “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. Cultural Context:
Again the war context is prominent – the intrigue, the danger of capture (for Laszlo and Rick in particular), the violence (the killing of Major Strasser), the last minute escape (for Laszlo and Ilsa). There is a suggestion of a new patriotism in Renault (symbolised by the way he throws the Vichy water in the bin) and in Rick in one of their final exchanges: Renault: “ … you’ve become a patriot”. Rick: “ … it seemed like a good time to start”. Renault: “I think perhaps you’re right”. There’s an awareness of the wider war context, as Renault suggests to Rick that he go to “a Free French garrison at Brazzaville”.
General Vision and Viewpoint: Sometimes an author will put his viewpoint into the mouth of a sympathetic (likeable) character. Are we meant to agree with Rick that: “the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”? Overall, and considering the ending especially, the film seems to suggest that human relationships are important, but that sometimes a greater cause must take precedence, that individual relationships must give way to the common good. Rick’s thinking leads him to this conclusion: “ … it all adds p to one thing. You’re getting on that plane where you belong … inside of us we both know”. The heavy message is lighted by the relatively cheerful ending, as the value of friendship is flagged: “ … the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. Finally, the patriotic message of the film is emphasised by the triumphant playing of the French anthem at the end. It’s important to keep in mind that the film was made during the war, when many films were made to boost morale. Casablanca is no mere propaganda, but the ending sends out a clear message.