Friday, January 04, 2008

REVIEW: Casablanca


Year: 1942
Director: Michael Curtiz
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Dooley Wilson
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG

Casablanca is considered one of the best films ever made by many critics and people everywhere. I never really heard about this film until I saw someone over at the Teamxbox forums raving about it. The film is really old and came out way before my parents even met. There were many spoofs of the film on certain TV shows that caught my interest. I eventually rented it from my local Blockbuster just to see if everyone was telling the truth. Having just seen the movie, I am now making it one of my favorite films of all time.

Plot Outline:
Casablanca's most popular nightspot Rick's Cafe Americain which is run by Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a man who remains consistent at staying out of political affairs. One day he is given an order by police chief Louis Renault (Claude Rains) that a man wanted by the Reich is on his way to Casablanca and that Rick is to make sure that he stays in Casablanca. The man, Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid), escaped a concentration camp and is now a major figure in the French resistance and his transfer to Lisbon would cause a bit frustration to the Reich. What he doesn't know is that Lazlo is currently married to Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), a woman that left Rick standing alone on a rainy train platform a few years earlier with a John Dear letter soaking in his hand which resulted in Rick leaving for Casablanca.

The story of Casablanca is marvelous. I wasn't expecting a 66 year old film like this to really get to me, but I was wrong. The film is well directed by Michael Curtiz with every shot meaning something. The plot is very fascinating and interesting. The moment that goes by, it makes you wonder whats the next step in this great plot. The film has a narrative story that's really a romantic piece of art. I was sucked into this films interesting plot that I just couldn't resist watching it again after my first play-through. The characters are all really wonderful and make you care for them. The ending is whats really going down as one of the greatest endings in film history. While I cant say I fully loved the ending, but I didn't think it was bad either. I guess I was expecting a more lovely ending since this romance led me to believe that. Although the ending wasn't really satisfying, I very much enjoyed the story of Casablanca. I can sit here all day telling you how magnificent the movie really is, but honestly its something you should see for yourself.

The cast of Casablanca is really an amazement. Having not seen any Humphrey Bogart films prior to this film, I'm going to have to go with what I saw in this film. I thought Humphrey Bogart did an excellent job as Rick Blaine, he definitely pulled that confident, but interesting fellow that is Rick. Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund was a site to behold. She was very good and sexy in her role. Shes a very talented girl and this movie showed that. She has a wonderful chemistry with Bogarts character and the two of them look great together. I thought Paul Henreid was pretty good in his role. Even though he was mostly the guy caught in the middle of things, he did a good job in his character. I thought the cast overall was great. While I didn't really feel too sad for them as I should have been near the end, they were still well acted and really made the movie a whole lot better.

Casablanca is shown in black and white coloring. While this film was made over 60 years ago where color was hardly invented, its hard imagining this film in color anyways. Just like the Universal Pictures film "Schindler's List", this film was made to be in black in white. I think color to this would have ruined the look and feel of Casablanca. The film has a great atmosphere with many shadows used on the cast that makes their faces very real and effective. The look of the movie is just plain perfect. There were moments where I got distracted from the story because of how good this film really looks. Casablanca has a rare and wonderful look to it that amazes me every time I see the film.

The film has a great soundtrack that is used almost 95% of the time. While the film didn't really sound like it had a powerful score like Star Wars or Indiana Jones, it did have alot of music used in the film. A film doesn't need to have a powerful score if it has alot of music already being used and Casablanca certainly has alot of music being used in different scenes. The music gets very scene focused and trembles with every moment when theirs something big about to happen. I thought it made the experience more cinematic. I thought Casablanca had alot of music that was used frequently more than what today's movies use. The film doesn't consist of much bass, but what we have here is more than enough for a film like this. I enjoyed hearing every minute of it.

In the end, I thought Casablanca was an amazing film. I seriously didn't expect a 66 year old film like this to impress me, but I was dead wrong. The film has a remarkable story that is still remembered even to this day with a very fine cast to back it up. Its got an amazing soundtrack that is used very effectively with an outstanding black and white look that makes the film seem almost too good to be true. While I enjoyed the story, I didn't however fully agree on the ending, but I guess I was just expecting alittle more from the film. Casablanca is a perfect movie in my opinion and one that you should definitely check out. Its now one of my favorite films of all time.

Grade: A+

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