Casablanca was released in 1942 and why it took me until this long to see it for the very first time is a long story. To save time, I’ll skip to the part how we have a souvenir magnet of the film’s movie poster from our trip to Marakash. I couldn’t stand having it on our fridge without having seen the movie any longer so we finally watched it.
For a movie that is one of the most highly regarded ones of all time, I thought it didn’t live up to the hype. The dialog was hard to understand because there were so many accents (why couldn’t everyone just speak American?), some of the scenes/cinematography were comical because the technology was so old, it was hard to make out some of the scenes because of the black/white, and oh so many cliches. On initial glance, that’s a lot of criticism but surprisingly, I didn’t find the plot boring. I recall that old movies moved at a slower pace, but there was never really a period where I was bored; even the first couple of scenes in Morocco were interesting, especially in the market – it looked like the Jemaa el-Fnaa market that we visited (complete with monkeys).
As the story started progressing, there was enough tension to make it quite interesting, but after the movie finished, I was left with a feeling of wondering why this movie was so famous. Then I let it sit for awhile, and on reflection, it felt good to have watched it. I think the reason is that you root for the protagonist and you feel you made a great character bet based on what he does in the movie. Also you feel pity for him because of what he was so close to having, but he purposely sacrificed it for the greater good. Your bet (as well as choosing this movie to watch) won you moral superiority and so you feel good about it.
Even though my theory of why Casablanca was successful sounds like a bit of social engineering, I think that is the positive result of a good script and good actors. For that, I’ll give Casablanca 4 out of 5 stars.