The Casablanca Conspiracy
Written By: Ash Catcher
I am going to switch things up around this week. Today I felt compelled to mention one of my favorite comfort movies, Casablanca. Now I get that it is old, I get that it is sexist, and I get all those little quips and one liners about detesting the French. I have watched this movie maybe about 50 times. All of these times were different. I have never seen this movie with the same person twice. I have seen this movie about 100 different ways. All from on a tiny portable DVD player when I was in college sick with mono, a laptop, even someone a few years back surprised me with a movie night and brought over their projector. I still absolutely still need to see this movie in a Drive-In still, but that is for another day I am sure of it.
When I was a kid I used movies, and films a lot to escape reality. I would write movie scripts at the age of 8. By 9 or 10 I was directing small plays in the basement of my friends houses in New Jersey. I moved around quite a bit as a kid, and even more so as an adult. Watching movies gave me that feeling of moving- or being transported somewhere else- if only for an hour or two from the comforts of my mostly temporary homes. There is still something super comforting to this day just popping on a movie and attempting to turn off my brain for an allotted time. Watching Casablanca for the first time in my critical viewing class in high school was pretty pivotal.
I am not sure if it was the on screen chemistry of Humphrey Bogart, and Ingrid Bergman that did it for me, because if it is one thing that is realistic about romance to me personally it's the dismissiveness and the unrequited love that was perfectly portrayed on screen. That hits home for me, relatable and I am always here for it. In a war torn country on the run of course the Universe will lead you back to that one chapter of your story that you seemed to "Dog Eared" and always seem to want to go back to. Was this age old timeless love story finished before the beginning credits even began? Is it pending?
I am by no means romantic, if you hug me for too long I'll probably have a slight panic attack. I show very little words of affirmation when dealing with relationships- both friendly and romantic. I am a big gift giver apparently. Lately I have only been able to offer people a few things, most of that being my time. Very rarely do I have the free time to sit down and dedicate time to a movie- but I always seem to make an exception for this one.
This is the movie I can most likely quote best, it is quick, and satirical and oddly enough holds my interest all the way through. What I really like to do is watch other people watch this movie for the first time. Often they will check out, or have issues following along with the story- it's really not that hard to follow. I personally think it would have been more shocking and progressive if Ilsa ended up with both Victor, and Rick. Like that door in the Titanic movie you bet that little plane could safely hold one other person. Scoot over.
This movie got me hooked on swing music, obsessed with crafting the perfect gin martini, and wanting to normalize the oddly weird non descriptive age gap between the two leading actors. When further looked into, I could denote a few underlying themes to this movie were love and sacrifice. I believe they do indeed go hand in hand with some things and while it's not the healthiest of a relationship between Bogart and Bergman they have since been seen in other movies together- I like to think they are all somehow connected and build off one another. Just in a different timeline.
All in all, most audience members will debate that this movie is just propaganda and sure it can be if you allow it. I also like the fact that its satirical nature seems to be almost undetected by the average movie watcher. I have people debate with me that this movie is... just okay. Everyone gets an opinion for sure, but half the time I am observing other people watching this movie I can tell they just miss the overall theme of it. It is more than a political allegory of World War Two, this movie needs to be watched a few times just to get everything out of this. I mean you could go as far as to say you can play it again Sam....
I'll leave you with that cringy & corny one off. See ya next Wednesday!