Casablanca is one of Hollywood’s most popular and iconic films. The plot of Casablanca advances through a chain of events, some of the important events that are central to the advancement of the story are Ugarte’s leaving documents with Rick, arrival of Laszlo and Ilsa, Rick’s refusal to give the documents to Laszlo, defiant singing of La Marseillaise in the cafe led by Laszlo and closing of the club, Rick telling Ilsa that he would help Laszlo escape if she stays behind with him, Rick’s conspiracy with Renault to release Laszlo in order to frame him for the possession of the documents, Rick’s double-cross of Renault; holding him hostage in order to let the couple escape, Rick shooting Strasser, Renault forgiving Rick’s action and deciding to join him in fighting Nazism.
‘Desire’ is a central theme in the movie. Rick is depicted a jaded former revolutionary, he used to desire freedom for everyone, now he just wants Ilsa, his actions throughout the film, especially toward the end of the movie show that the ‘do-gooder’ inside him was not too deeply buried after all at the, at the end he is again the hero he used to be. Laszlo, Ilsa’s husband is still a dedicated revolutionary wanting the end of Nazism. Ilsa is mostly a passive object throughout the film. Her one moment of action is when she tries forcing Rick to hand over the documents to her at gunpoint, but she fails at that. She has feelings for both Rick and Laszlo. Renault is depicted as a greedy, lustful, mercenary person, but at the end of the film it becomes clear that he is essentially a good person too, he does not only desire sex and money; he also wants freedom from the Nazis.
Humphrey Bogart has portrayed Rick in a truly masterful performance in this film. Rick exudes an air of mixture of mystery, cynicism, roguishness and charisma. Events throughout the film keep hinting toward his latent idealism hidden beneath the subterfuge of cynicism, that keep the viewers rooting for him despite his shabby behaviour. He refuses to sell his African pianist and singer Sam to Senor Ferrari, telling him, “I don’t buy or sell human beings”. He also saves the Bulgarian bride from having to sleep with Renault. The fact that Rick is an idealist at heart is also explicitly established through Renault saying “Because my dear Ricky, I suspect that under that cynical shell, you’re at heart a sentimentalist” and mentioning his past career as an anti-fascist, supplied guns to Ethiopians and fighting against the fascists in the Spanish civil war.
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