This year, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of one of the most overrated (but still great) films ever, ‘Casablanca’ (1942). Its blend of humor, romance and action has apparently riveted audiences in ways totally unexpected while the film was being made.
It remains probably the most quotable of movies to date. Off the top of my head, “We’ll always have Paris,” “Play it Sam,” something about problems of three people not being worth a hill of beans in this crazy world, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “The beginning of a beautiful friendship”… and on and on. But let’s face it, like practically all of wartime flicks, it was war propaganda, and appalling in that respect.
AND THE SLOW-CLAP AWARD GOES TO...
The single worst moment of the film was when the Germans were playing their anthem in Rick’s Café Américain. In what was meant to appear courageous and inspiring, the café clients, beginning with resistance leader Victor Laszlo, then sing the French anthem ‘La Marseillaise’ to drown out the German voices.
The French here were proxying for the Americans, it being French Morocco, but the message of loyalty to country was nonetheless being thrust down the viewer’s throat. As if it’s so admirable to be enslaved by one government rather than another!
ALL THE SAME
What makes ‘La Marseillaise’ anymore noble than ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über alles’ (in the film, they’re actually playing another anthem, ‘Die wacht am Rein’)? Even Morocco for God’s sake was a French colony; these people in power all have the same idea of dominating other peoples, of course with the same litany of buzzwords such as ‘liberty’ and national glory. And people actually compete to be associated with governments?!
Never mind the fact that the French government was in complicity with the Nazis in sending French Jews to their deaths. Or that the movie’s Captain Renault, for all his comic relief, was just as much a deutschbag, pun initially not intended.
All governments are oppressors, and they love war; the only difference is the degree of love for war, the amount of resources for such war, and the particular conquests in mind.
Article Previously Posted at C.R.