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Love entangled with friendship can be a tricky business; many a level headed have tried figuring out their mysterious ways of working-both in real and reel life-but have remained baffled. It’s something can’t be deciphered, a fact more or less glorified by Hollywood.
And taking this ‘notion of togetherness’ to new heights of complication-re-defining its boundaries, and finding new ways to express it-is a timeless classic, a sort of Godfather of romance movies.
Set against the backdrop of a war-torn Europe, Warner Bros’ legendary film Casablanca is a toast to heart-wrenching romance, tales of passionate love, and ultimate sacrifices. This tale of adventure, based on Murray Bennert and Joan Alison stage play ‘Everybody Comes to Rick’ has its moments of stunning craftsmanship which have no doubt made it into one of those rare cinematic gems that have to be watched.
Casablanca tells the story of American expatriate Rick Blaine [Humphrey Bogart], who runs a much happening night club called Rick’s Café American in Casablanca, the French held Morocco, a springboard for escape to the many stranded refugees.
In this club, one day loiters in Ugarte [Peter Lorre] armed with ‘Letters of Transit’. Ugarte had appropriated these letters by killing two German couriers. He wants to sell them at a good price for they provide their bearers’ unhampered travel through German controlled Europe. What could be better than these to the many refugees that abound in Casablanca?
From the moment these letters come in Rick’s possession, begins a spine chilling saga of love and friendship, with overload of suspense, and tragic-comic thrills.
Enters the scene llsa Lund [Ingrid Bergman]. And she is on the trail of these precious letters. To make matters interesting, she and Rick shared a past; they had been lovers in Paris at a time when she presumed her husband had been killed, though on learning he was alive she had immediately left Rick without briefing him about the situation.
One thing leads to the other, and llsa ends up charming the club pianist, making him play ‘As Time Goes By’, a song specifically forbidden by Rick. Rick is furious as the words of the song reach him, marching into the club but halts in his tracks on spotting llsa.
Despite harbouring love for llsa, in the end Rick finally lets go of llsa, his lost love, with a stirring “May be not today, may be not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life”.
Rick also helps llsa to board the Lisbon bound plane with her husband Victor Laszlo [Paul Henreid] and also manages to hold sway over German Major Stasser [Conrad Veidt] who is in hot pursuit of Laszlo, the Czech Resistance leader and a fugitive.
Casablanca is a movie of rare genius by Director Michael Curtiz, where softer emotions of camaraderie are shown to overcome passionate love.