This clip is from Michael Curtiz’ 1942 masterpiece Casablanca. The film takes place in the town of Casablanca, an unoccupied town in Morocco and popular location for french refugees from WWII.
Casablanca is a product of the studio system in Hollywood, released at the peak of the system. At this time when so many films were being produced, this being just one of them it is surprising how good it is and the success it has had. It is arguably the best movie of all time contending with Welles’ Citizen Kane. (I pick Casablanca, but both are awesome). Though produced along with other films of the studio system it stands in a class of it’s own. It is extremely socially and culturally relevant to the time, dealing with the effects of WWII. It stands the test of time because of its themes of lost love and morality, which will always be relevant. The film crosses a number of genres which was uncommon in the 1940’s. It can be considered a drama, romance, war movie, and also shows a number of film-noir elements though cant quite be grouped into that category.
In this clip we see a group of Nazi officers in Rick’s club singing the German anthem. though Rick, the former freedom fighter has now become a neutral bystander in the war, we see the beginnings of his revived patriotism as he gives the go ahead for the band to start La Marseillaise. as the band starts solemn mood in the bar changes as the customers rise to their feet, over powering the voices of the Nazis with their own anthem. it is a very emotional scene today, i can only imagine the response it stirred at its release in 1942 in the heart of the war. Towards the end of the scene we see Ingrid Bergman’s (Ilsa’s) face of love and approval for her new man Victor adding to the love triangle drama.
There are a lot of shadows in the club, showing the influence of german expressionist lighting. The most important way the lighting is used in this scene is when Rick appears, coming out of the shadows. it is symbolic of his neutral stance in the war. he comes out of that and back into the light as he give the nod of approval.
This particular scene represents the resilience of the people in Casablanca but outside the parameters of the film it is the resilience and power of good in the world.