1942, right in the middle of World War II. France, and most of Europe is occupied by the Nazis. A lot of people want to leave for America, but the only way out is by going from Paris to Marseilles, then taking a boat to Oran, crossing to Casablanca and finally getting on a plane in Lisbonne. Yet, to leave for Lisbonne, you need a transit letter, and many people have to wait and wait in Casablanca to get it. The Nazis are everywhere, and they won’t let anyone leave without their agreement. Ugarte achieved to get a hold of a couple of letters, but the cops are after his ass, so he has to hide them. He goes to Rick’s Café Américain and asks the owner to keep them for a while. Shortly after, Ugarte is arrested, leaving Rick with the liberty to use these transit letters. That’s when Victor Lazlo walks in. He’s a Resistance hero that must get out of Casablanca to fight for his cause. He needs the letters more than anyone else. The problem is that someone involved with both Lazlo and Rick is getting in the way of the deal: Ilsa. She’s been Lazlo’s wife for a while, but she also had an affair with Rick when Lazlo was sent to a concentration camp. Ilsa and Rick spent some very intense moments together, and when Ilsa had to leave to get back with her husband, Rick sank into desperation and went to Morocco to open his Café. And now, years later, Rick and Ilsa and reunited, and it’s as if they had never part. Their love for each other is as strong as ever, but what’s more important? Their happiness or the fate of the Resistance?
To many, this is the best love story ever, if not the greatest film of all times. You can’t say it doesn’t have “classic” written all over it. It’s both a World War II tale and an extremely intense romance. It’s truly heartbreaking to watch true love unable to bloom in a world gone crazy. All sorts of things come into play in what could be just a little romantic triangle: duty, honor, sacrifice, idealism… Things now long faded away, to the point where in watching the film we feel as bittersweet as Rick, not only for the woman that got away but for the values gone as well.
Director Michael Curtiz crafted an unforgettable film. The setting, Casablanca, is exceptional. It’s an exotic small town in the desert populated by people from Germany, France, America and Morocco. You can feel the desperation, the crowdiness, the desert heat, the dread of the Gestapo… But this is also an intimate film that mostly takes place in Rick’s Café Américain. Curtiz didn’t try to make a huge movie; his direction is flawless, but he’s never showing off. There aren’t lots of settings or characters, but the film is very powerful. The story is gripping, mostly because of Ilsa and Rick’s doomed romance. There are countless classic lines and scenes in the film. The performances are also fantastic. Rick Blaine is interpreted with style by the unique Humphrey Bogart. Is there another leading man with that much charisma? He plays a character angry yet touching, sad yet endearing. His female opposite is played by the wonderful Ingrid Bergman, a beautiful and gifted actress. Bogie and her have great chemistry, and they form one of the most memorables couple in movie history. The classy music and the elegant B&W photography also help making this a very special movie. “Casablanca” is the kind of film you can’t grow tired of: it actually gets better every time you see it.