MM's Robert Johnson revisits one of cinema's most reverred classics ahead of it's 70th Anniversary screening at Cornerhouse on Friday.
Well, here’s an Easter treat! To coincide with the film's 70th anniversary Cornerhouse are showing a digitally remastered print of Casablanca, arguably cinema’s most romantic hour and an absolute ‘must see’ for anyone with a love of the big screen.
The year is 1942, the place, the Moroccan town of Casablanca, a city thriving on double crossings and corruption, where everything and everybody has a price.
Nobody understands this better than Rick Blaine, an American expatriate and owner of the popular piano bar ‘Ricks Café Americaine’, who spends his time embroiled in shady dealings and generally looking after number one. That is until the sultry Ilsa Lund walks into his bar and back into his life.
With her husband, the famed Czech resistance fighter Victor Laszlo, in tow Ilsa needs Ricks help but that help will require sacrifice and selflessness and that’s not Rick’s style…is it?
You can look at several factors that explain the enduring appeal of Casablanca. Of course there’s the atmospheric, noir-esque cinematography and the razor-sharp, inch perfect script but this film is so much more than the sum of its cool dialogue and iconic imagery.
The supporting cast would have been a filmmakers dream. Claude Rains is inch perfect as the twisting, turning Capt Renault and any film is made substantially better by the appearance of Peter Lorre but where this film strikes gold is in the leads.
Ingrid Bergman has never looked better and balances her Ilsa with the right amounts of vulnerability and sass that ensures she never strays into clichéd Femme Fatale territory and Humphrey Bogart simply epitomises cool. Everything he does drips with it. The way he talks, the way he smokes, even the way he leans on things. His performance and his on screen persona give us a very large proportion of what we think of when we think of ‘cool’ and you simply can not replicate it.
Combine the performances and the style with what is simply a very good love story and you begin to understand why places like the Cornerhouse want to celebrate Casablanca’s 70th birthday. It’s about love and about how love is never simple.
It hurts, confuses and, unlike the film, is seldom black and white. We might not be being pursued by Nazi’s across North Africa but I still think its something that we, as a contemporary audience, can relate to.
Casablanca is being screened three times at the Cornerhouse.
Good Friday 20.30, Easter Sunday 15.50 and Monday 13.30. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see a piece of classic cinema on the big screen and is well worth 102 minutes of your time. Go, even if it is only to find what exactly did happen in Paris.
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