in which Megan finally watches a classic movie and shares her thoughts

January 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm 2 comments

Last week some of my girlfriends and I were going to watch a movie.  The vote came down to Casablanca and Bolt, neither of which I had seen. 

We opted for Bolt, which was a thoroughly funny and charming movie, and Melanie sent me home with Casablanca and instructions to watch it. 

So on the long bus ride back to school (I went home over the weekend for a wedding), I obeyed.  Actually, my sister saved the day because I’d brought my laptop and the movie with me just so I could watch it on the bus ride….and forgot my headphones.  Yeah, I’m pretty sure everyone else on the bus would have appreciated me blaring a black-and-white movie.  So Katie is graciously letting me borrow hers.  (Ignore the fact that I have two pairs of my own earbuds up here already). 

But I digress.  Casablanca.

This review might be a bit biased, because you should know by now that I love ’40s movies, and I especially adore the darling hair and dresses and all that.  And Ingrid Bergman is downright gorgeous. 

But it was a stirring movie.  And I’m probably going to spoil everything, so don’t keep reading if you object to that.

You’ve been warned.

So we meet Rick when it opens, an embittered saloon owner in the “holding station” of Casablanca – people flock there in hopes of being able to get to Lisbon, and then America.  Rick has a booming business, but he doesn’t socialize with customers, and he doesn’t stick his neck out for anyone, as he repeatedly tells us.  There are Nazis in Casablanca (though it is officially neutral ground), as well as underground patriots. 

And then Ilsa walks into his saloon – the girl who broke his heart years earlier, when they were in Paris.  Nazis were marching in, it was about to be occupied, and they planned to catch a train and run off and marry.  And she never showed up; just left a note that said she’d never see him again but to believe that she loved him.  (How dramatic.)

She’s with her husband now, leader of a massive underground movement and desperately wanted by the Nazis.  They won’t provide him with an exit visa to America, of course – so his only hope to escape and continue the great work lies in Rick, who has exactly two special papers that will allow anyone to leave.  But he’s planning on leaving himself, and isn’t inclined to help anyone, and especially not Ilsa’s husband. 

Eventually it is revealed that Ilsa and Rick still love each other, and Ilsa believed her husband to have died in a concentration camp when she had the fling with Rick years ago.  She had just found out that he was alive, and smuggled out of the camp, and sick, when she was supposed to leave with Rick – so she arranged to meet Rick on the train, knowing that he wouldn’t leave without her if she refused to go, but knowing that he had to go for his own safety and she needed to stay with her husband. 

Over the course of the movie, Rick is awakened once again to the things that are good and noble; and at a cost to his own happiness with Ilsa he uses his two papers to send her and her husband to America.  And he joins the fight for freedom himself. 

I think the most refreshing thing about the movie was that while it was indeed a love triangle, it was a very unique love triangle of sacrifice.  Each of the characters sacrificed for the one they loved in a major way, and it didn’t subscribe to the rampant view of today – that if you fall in love while married, you’ve obviously married the wrong person and need to divorce them right away and follow your heart. 

Another underlying theme – one in most World War II movies – was that of living and dying and sacrificing for a glorious cause, so much greater than yourself. 

I love that.  I want that.  And it’s such a good reminder for me that it’s actually true: I do believe and fight for a glorious cause, so much greater than myself, even though it’s often so hard to remember.  We look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18).

I like movies that remind me to look at the things that are unseen, and remind me that they are, paradoxically, the most important thing of all. 

I’m not going to fuss about the state of movies today.  There are some great ones.  And some really lame ones.  And some really unneccessary ones.  But few showcase this kind of nobility.  And I miss it.

So.  I thought Casablanca actually deserved it’s “classic” title.  What about you?  Have you seen it?  What are other classic movies you love?


Entry filed under: art, random nonsense.

and the clock strikes midnight: whisked back to another world fun things

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Annie  |  January 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    My friend Tiffany found out I hadn’t seen Casablanca and disowned me as her friend for about thirty seconds. I haven’t really seen any classic movies, either, but I did see and like Roman Holiday, To Kill a Mockingbird, and White Christmas.

  • 2. overlapped  |  January 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I LOVE White Christmas!

    And I’ve actually never seen the other two you mentioned – though considering the fact that “To Kill a Mockinbird” is one of my favorite books, I should probably get on that 🙂


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