Casablancais a film is a classical American movie that was released in New Yorkin November 1942. Its release came the same time that North Africawas invaded by allied forces and captured the city of Casablanca. Astrong force emerged that sought to take dominion over several areas.They invade France but France offers resistance leading to war andfinally power sharing with Vichy, the then power regime in France.Rick isolates himself as all these events unfold, desiring to neutralalthough. However, Rick later joins the events. This paper seeks toestablish the relationship between the events in the movie and theinvolvement of the United States in World War II.
Casablancatries to bring out the then cynical social trends, includingpsychoanalysis and its influence on popular culture, neutrality andisolation on both political and personal fronts. The first time theproprietor of Rick’scafé Americainis brought into the scene is during the Chess game. The game of chessin the movie symbolically represents the competition and struggle forcontrol and, choreography and counter-choreography that was dominantin the WW II (Hudson, 2). Introducing Rick at this time was a symbolof a psychoanalytic therapy session whereby Rick’s personalitycharacteristics were revealed. Rick’s attitude to the opponenttries to indicate that he is further convoluted beyond thenon-partisan representation he tries to uphold. The position assumedby Rick is a factual representation of the United States foreignpolicy prior to Pearl Harbor administration. US seemed neutral justlike Rick.
Inthe scene where Rick and Captain Renault are conversing, a shortconversation is captured between the two
Rick:"I stick my neck out for nobody."
CaptainRenault: "Wise foreign policy." (Hudson, 6)
Ricktried to obscure his political inclination, but his compassion withthe underdogs ultimately resurfaced. Rick is discovered to be in the“Roll of Honor” in 1935 when he supplied guns to Ethiopian afterthey were invaded by Mussolini. During the Spanish civil war of 1936,Rick fought in favor of the royalists, against the rebels led by thefascist, Franco. On both occasions, Rick claimed to be well paid.However, this was a scheme to conceal the contribution to ademocratic cause. His battle engagement against the Axis powersincluding Germany and Italy is a significant revelation to theaudience that the onset of the World War II was not the actions ofPearl Harbor but the war had a deeper origin (Film Education, 3).
Aclear exposure of Rick’s liberal political inclinations is revealedduring his conversation with Ferrari. Ferrari is the orchestrator ofthe local black market. When Ferrari makes an offer to Rick for thepurchase of Sam’s contract, he replies by claiming that he is notinterested in buying or selling human beings. This reveals that Rickhad a good relationship with Sam and the two had respect for oneanother. It also denotes that Rick was against the fascist practicesof trading with humans.
Ilsaand Laszlo’s arrival in Casablanca create a political climax. Theyarrived dressed like ordinary town dwellers and refugees who ran fromone country to another to avoid being captured by the Gestapo. Ricksat to drink together with Laszlo and Ilsa, thus breaking his rule ofisolation. Earlier, he had made a commitment not to drink with aclient (Polan, 364). This suggests that Laszlo and Isla were not truecouples. Rick sympathized with Isla and responded to their situationemotionally suggesting that isolation policy was no longer practical.His earlier commitment to stick his neck for no one is finallybroken. The government of the United States had committed not to belured into war by any ally during the World War II. However,President Franklin Roosevelt violated this stand when an allypersuaded him to enter into war.
Thenoir premise of foreboding the dominance of Nazi is brought out whenRick inquires whether if in Casablanca it was December 1941, whattime it was in New York. Sam does not reply to his inquiry, but Ricksuggests that in New York, people are asleep (Hudson, 9). He assertsthat across America, all people are in slumber. This connotation isnot on physical sense, but in the political sense. On December 7,1941, there was spurious war in Europe and scores of Americans wereinjured in the Pearl Harbor bombing. Americans could no longer closetheir eyes to the raging war that had affected about half of theworld. Even though Rick wanted to focus on New York City, he had tobegin preparing for war. The scary Nazi search lights surrounding theGerman-Vichy protectorate were sufficient to make Americans intensifytheir support for the war.
Casablancawas encamped by more scaring Paris flashback scenes of Nazi’sdestruction and domination. Before Nazi invaded France, Paris wasvery gorgeous, peaceful and untroubled. However, following theincursion, Paris became a city of disorder, commotion, fear, deathand French military desertion. In addition, the military shatteredthe romance between Ilsa and Rick. The moments of joy and laughterwas suddenly replaced by tears and tension. There were Gestapo voicesin every place. Rick is finally left with nothing but a broken heartand tries to offer regretful apologies. Rick tells Ilsa “we’llalways have Paris” (Polan, 369). Even though the love relationshipwas now lost, the memories will never fade away. This flashback is anillustration of the brutality of the war that was to bring massivedestruction of property and scores of people could be left dead.There was a need for a strong force to intervene and end the war.America was at the best place to engage its strength for the big taskof ending the war.
Thereis a strong relationship between the movie events and the World WarII. Rick is a representation of American stand. United States wantedto keep distance from the roaming war events and instead concentrateon its reconstruction and keep positive relations with its allies.However, this concentration was interrupted by the war events thatforce the country to get involved, thus violating its initial stand.
Ebert,Roger. Casablanca:Great Movie. 1996.Web, Accessed October 15, 2014<http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-casablanca-1942>
FilmEducation. Casablanca.2007. Web, Accessed October 15, 2014<http://Www.Filmeducation.Org/Pdf/Film/Casablanca_New.Pdf>.
Hudson, David.Casablanca:The Romance of Propaganda.BrightLights Film Journal 55 (2007).
Polan,Dana . Casablanca:The Limitless Potential And Potential Limits Of Classical HollywoodCinema.1942. pp.362-377