Sunday, 14 October 2012
Casablanca (1942) - ★★★★★
Writers: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, Peter Lorre
This movie is perfect. Of all the films I've seen, I believe that Casablanca surpasses them all when it comes to its ridiculously well-done acting, story and cinematography. That doesn't mean it's my favorite, but if someone asked me if it is better than another film, I would almost always say "yes."
During WWII, Casablanca was a city full of refugees looking for any chance to get their hands on an exit Visa so that they could go to America and escape the toil of the Germans. This meant that they often had to sell everything so that they could buy these Visa's at extremely high prices. At the centre of this city is Rick's Cafe' Americain, a booming nightclub filled with gambling, booze and a mixture of French soldiers, German soldiers and refugees of all nationalities.
The owner of the cafe' is Rick (Humphery Bogart), a bitter and straightforward man that sticks his neck out for nobody. After two German couriers are murdered and their letters of transit are stolen, the man responsible for the murder (Peter Lorre) confides in Rick and asks him to hide them for a little while until he can use them to leave Casablanca. The man inevitably gets caught, which left Rick in possession of the two letters of transit.
Then the reason for Rick's bitterness re-enters his life. Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) arrives with her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) to purchase the letters. Laszlo is a renowned Czech Resistance leader who has escaped from a Nazi concentration camp. They must have the letters to escape to America to continue his work. Ilsa and Rick were lovers years ago in Paris and their feelings remained unchanged since then, even after Ilsa left Rick with no explanation. This then becomes the most famous love triangle in the history of the cinema.
There is so much humour in this film, so much romance, so much drama, a very big mystey and tons of iconic scenes. Bogart gave one of the greatest performances of his career, while Bergman in my opinion did give the greatest performance of her career. Claude Rains was hilariously funny and subtle with his gestures, becoming the glue that holds the story together. Henreid was so likable and acted with such sincerity, that anyone would think that he did love Bergman. I could not stop smiling in this film because everything about it was so good. I could not fault it in one aspect.
The characters are vulnerable and human, they make mistakes and then make utilitarian decisions for the greater good of the world. There was such suspense that I could never guess what was going to happen next. I consider the ending to Casablanca to be the greatest of all time, not only because of how beautiful the setting is (with a foggy atmosphere on the airstrip at nighttime), but because everything Bogart said was just pure gold and has been quoted many times, "I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." That one line has so much truth in it, as do many others throughout the film. One more thing I might add is that the music is purely spectacular, with the main theme "As Time Goes By," Casablanca was divine, even without the dialogue and acting.
I cannot praise this film enough. It will remain relevent to men and women forever and shall always be remembered as a stepping stone for cinema. 10/10, Five Stars! Every accolade there is, this film deserves!