Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Casablanca, 1942
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Nominated for 8 Oscars, Won 3

Synopsis: Rick Blaine is an exiled American, living in Casablanca, Monaco, during World War II. He is running a hot nightclub in the city, which attracts all sorts of different people. It attracts Europeans who are trying to flee their homeland, to Lisbon so they may get to America. It attracts those selling Exit Visas for the desperate. It attracts Nazi's, who are seeking a man named Victor Laszlo, a Czech Underground leader who has escaped from a Concentration Camp. And it attracts Victor Laszlo himself, and his pretty lady friend, Isla. Rick is shocked to see Isla, a one-time lover, when he (and she) lived in Paris. He's very bitter towards her, for she left him, but there are many secrets between them, and those around them. Rick has been handed some important Travel Letters many people are desperate to have, and could be helpful in aiding Victor in his escape from the Nazi's. But Isla just may have more shocking secrets than Ricks...

Merry Christmas everyone! Happy Boxing Day! Happy Holidays, etc, etc. This is my first, of what will be many reviews, over the next few weeks as I'm off for the holidays! I settled down this Boxing Day Evening after a day of Christmas with family.

Opening up on this film I had absolutely no idea what this film was about. I didn't know Casablanca was a place, or that it was set in WWII, or anything. All I knew was that Humphrey Bogart was in it, it looked romantic, and is said to be a classic. Other than that I went into this film with very little expectation.

Like many films, this was in black and white (I didn't know this either, before starting it). It opened up, showing the nightclub, introducing the circumstances and political climate of the time, and why so many people flocked to Casablanca (it was easy to get to Lisbon, and Lisbon was constantly shipping people to 'The New World'- or America). We see those desperate Europeans, and we see the arrival of the Nazi's. And we are quickly introduced to our main characters, Rick Blaine, Isla, Victor Laszlo, and the Nazi's.

This story was told with suspense. We slowly learn bits and pieces about each character, and nothing is revealed quite off the bat. My mother and I were constantly trying to guess at what was going on, and what these characters were about. They were all portrayed with much mystery, which can be quite crucial. Nothing was obviously told to us, and it was very well written.

Of the nominations that year, this film racked up noms for Best Cinematography (Black and White), Original Score, Editing, Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Best Writing. All of which were very much deserved. Humphrey Bogart was great, and did a truly wonderful job as the mysterious, irresistible man, all while pulling off the heartbroken man, that is still in love with Isla. The Original Score was really great, and I really noticed it. It played up every moment really well. Swooning music for the love scenes, suspenseful music for the heightened scenes, and so on. The cinematography was also quite good; the film overall looked really nice, and well filmed.

In the end, I enjoyed the film, though it wasn't my favourite. It was well-told, and had enough romance, but didn't over do it. I liked it, it was a classic, though I don't find the need to watch it again. But that's just me.

Update (2014): I had the opportunity to see this film, along with a large audience, at Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall, and to have the Toronto Symphony Orchestra play the score live alongside the film. Watching the film with an audience, and hearing and seeing their reactions always gives new insight to films. Casablanca had more sarcasm and humor than I remembered. The score was especially sweeping and romantic, and the performances were larger than life. I have since updated several of the scores on my score chart, giving it with a final total of 80/100 rather than the 77 it previously held.

Acting- 8.5/10 
Directing- 8.5/10 
Screenplay- 9/10 
Visuals- 9/10 
Music- 9.5/10 
Emotional Connection- 7.5/10 
Entertainment- 7.5/10 
Rewatchability- 7.5/10 
Overall Enjoyment- 7.5/10 
Overall Package- 9/10       

Total: 83.5/100

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