The Character of Rick in Casablanca
Casablanca is an American film set during the Second World War, and entirely focuses on the life of a character torn between love and virtue. It is classified as a romantic drama and it was produced in the year 1942 having been directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart as Rick, Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund, Paul Henreid as victor Laszlo, and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Dooley Wilson and Peter Lorre. The main character, Rick, falls in love with a woman who makes him confused because she insists on being helped by him, as well as facilitating a way for her and her husband to escape from the city of Casablanca in Morocco. The woman’s husband is a Czech resistance leader and therefore a fighter against the Nazis.
Rick is an American living in Casablanca and he owns Rick’s café that is a famous night club and a gambling joint. On the other hand, Ugarte is a petty criminal while Ilsa Lund is Rick’s former girlfriend and Sam the club pianist. Victor Laszlo is the husband to Rick’s ex girlfriend and is a fugitive escaping from a Nazi concentration camp. His quest to go back to America is set back by the arrival of a German major called Stresser who wants to make sure that the couple does not succeed. The two ex-lovers finally reconcile after talking about how they got separated. Towards the end of the movie, Renaults becomes friends with Rick and decide to join the free French at Brazzaville.
Casablanca is an A-list film that successfully achieves its objective as an excellent creation of World War 2 propaganda.
The character of rick in the movie may be described as controversial and cynical. He is the owner of the Rick’s café and he appears as a person too hard to impress because in most cases, he turns down offers granted to him by his customers despite the fact that some of them are his very good friends. He is described as too extreme in his behavior since he treats his girlfriend, Yvonne with utmost lack of respect and affection. He has a carefree attitude and he seems not to be moved by the war happening around him. In addition, he does not seem to care the influx of refugees into the town of Casablanca. In several instances, he further goes out and announces that he fears nobody and does not care what happens by saying that he sticks his neck out for nobody. Despite his high handedness, he seems not to grant any special treatment to high profile persons and clearly sympathizes with the less prominent people. In an incident at the beginning of the movie, he refuses entry to his bar’s private area to a respected member of the Deutsche Bank whilst less prominent people are allowed into the room. To support the fact that his sympathies are on the common people, he goes further and accuses the criminal sect referred to as the Ugarte of overcharging refugees in the process of acquiring visas to move out of the country.
The character of rick can also be described as sentimental since we learn later in the film that before coming into the city of Casablanca, he used to be a political activist, often supporting the losing sides in countries such as Spain and Ethiopia. He is generous, self participating and also discriminatory in his activities. His mysterious past comes to the light when his ex-lover, Ilsa, arrives in Casablanca. The use of flashback gives us a picture of a different rick from the one we have in Casablanca. Through flashback, we understand that he was very much in love with Ilsa back in Paris but his coming to Casablanca creates another totally different Rick because of the painful separation from his lover. Due to his heartbreak, Rick treats Ilsa roughly with anger and even denies Laszlo and her letters of transit he has. The whole film depicts three types of characters in rick. In the beginning, he is a very romantic character in Paris, a capitalist that can’t be moved in Casablanca and finally a committed idealist towards the end.
Rick is depicted as an American loner hero in the entire movie due to its purpose in promoting the World War 2 propaganda. Casablanca creates a very clear picture of those involved in the war. The life of the enemy, those that that the enemy has ruined and those agents who fight the enemy are clearly elaborated. Refugees of all nationalities flock in Casablanca where Rick has a business. These refugees face chaos and misery since many have no money and therefore they engage in unlawful acts like stealing, prostitution in order to have passes across the border. All this happens around rick who even criticizes the gang involved in charging for passes of overcharging.
Through his character, America is depicted as the haven for desperate refugees who are oppressed and homeless. The United States is regarded by these refugees as a land of freedom and security and therefore the film creates to the audience the obligation as Americans to keep this reputation and fight discrimination using whatever is available to them. Rick is seen as a hero because he defends the rights of refugees in Casablanca.
Moreover, the film brings out the state of the present American conflict. We come to understand that rick fought for the loyalists in the Spanish civil war, and often fought for the institution of democracy from as far back as 1935.he acts as a hero because he was involved in the smuggling of guns for the Ethiopians to fight their colonialists. Therefore the audience is helped to understand that the American war did not start with Pearl Harbor, but rather its roots started a long time ago. It is clearly shown that personal desire should not be coupled with the task of bringing down fascism and this is the clear objective of Laszlo and other underground fighters that want to end this vice. Rick, the hero and Isla, the heroine both sacrifice their personal happiness and desires bearing in mind that each may carry on the fight more effectively when separate. Both of these characters recognize the importance of losing their happiness for the benefit of the rest of the world.
In addition, rick acts as an American lone hero towards the end of the film when he sacrifices the possibility of a future with Ilsa and a comfortable life in Casablanca by allowing Laszlo to escape with her. He can’t go back to America because he may have done so many wrong things back there since we understand that he had run into exile in Casablanca. Through his character, the audience learns the importance of being committed and self-sacrificial in the fight against fascism.
In conclusion, the film is able to demonstrate the difference in the character of Rick from those of his predecessors in the film industry. In contrast to most of its predecessors, Casablanca is able to bring out clearly the picture of the enemy, those being targeted by the enemy and the underground forces that fight the enemy in his own territory and therefore creating a very effective content in war drama.
Marc, A & Tom, C. (2009). Casablanca: movies and memory. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press