Monday, July 18, 2005

"A kiss is just a kiss...

... a sigh is still a sigh, the fundamental things apply, as time goes by"

I was feeling a little melancholy over the weekend, and Sunday morning I decided to watch my all-time favorite film, "Casablanca". I can’t really remember exactly how many times I’ve seen it, but I still keep returning to it like a well-worn dog-eared paperback. You can almost recite it verbatim you’ve read it so often, but it pulls you in like a moth to a flame.

Bogart’s character pulls me in like that.

It’s like looking into a mirror sometimes. I've been called a "Rough~Tough Creampuff" before, and I'll have to admit, I am a hopeless romantic at heart. Gruff exterior covering a heart of gold.

Humphrey Bogart’s character, Rick Blaine is a man who stands alone and looks out for no one but himself. By holding onto that pitiless tough-guy persona he reveals to the crowd, he's able to hide emotion and stray away from heartache, which as the movie progresses, takes the focus away from the romance and the Nazis and places it on Rick's struggle to redefine himself.

But who is this Rick? What is his magical power? His secret weapon?

Rick is the anti-fascist with hard feelings, the former soldier of fortune who has grown weary of smuggling and fighting, and is now content to sit out the war in his own neutral territory... Even loyalty to a friend doesn't move him as he refuses to help Ugarte, (Peter Lorre) a desperately frightened little man of ill-repute who is running for his life...

Emphatically, Rick says, "I stick my neck out for nobody." But we know he will do just that in a very short time, for into his life comes a haunting vision from his past, the beautiful woman he still loves and bitterly remembers... She is married to an underground leader and she desperately needs papers of transit Rick now has in his possession...

The cynical Rick's facade of neutrality begins to weaken as he recalls the bittersweet memories of his past love affair, memories triggered repeatedly when the strains of "As Time Goes By" come from Sam, his piano-playing confidante... But Casablanca’s basic message is a declaration of self-sacrifice... War World II demanded all.

The words stated by Rick at the airport had their impact:

"The problems of three people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."

It goes without saying that Bogart is incomparable when he seems most like himself... His way with a line makes "Casablanca" dialog part of the collective memory:

"Paris? I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray. You wore blue."

Besides the main character’s similarities is some ways a lot like me, lost and alone, erecting a wall around myself to insulate me from further heartache, but still with a caring and sensitive inside struggling to get out. It also lets me know that there really is hope out there, however elusive.

I know I’ll go on. I’m smiling a little broader today than yesterday, which is at least better than I was doing yesterday morning.

If you still haven’t seen Casablanca, do yourself a favor and rent it sometime. Pop a huge bowl of popcorn, curl up with someone you care about and enjoy it.

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

1 comment:

Becky said...

Play it, Sam. ;) I love this one, too. Headed to blockbuster for a fix.