Casablanca Cinematography

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Casablanca Cinematography

The film Casablanca directed by Michael Curtiz and released in 1943—at the height of World War II—is set in December 1941 in Casablanca, French Morocco. It is a time of escalating power of the Nazi party, which attempted to gain control of most parts of the world starting with Europe and Northern Africa. As a result of the ascending power of the Nazis and anti-German sentiments, many Europeans were desperate to flee their homes. Because Casablanca was not yet taken over by the Germans due to its distance from Europe, it served as the holding place or middle ground for those trying to escape Europe, assuming they could get there. People would travel from Europe to Casablanca in hopes of receiving letters of transit or exit visas—the only official documents that permitted one to leave the country—in order to get to Lisbon, Portugal and then to the United States. Visitors and residence of Casablanca frequent Rick’s Café Americain, a place where they can drink, socialize, gamble, and enjoy music without the fear of German invasion. Rick and his café are symbolic of neutral territory, reminiscent of the United States at that time. Using World War II as its back drop, the film tells the story of an accidental love triangle which includes Rick Blaine, his lover Ilsa Lund, and her husband Victor Laszlo, a proud opposer of the Nazi regime. The film uses music, cinematography, and lighting to emphasize and dramatize the love, hate, and neutrality in the story. The musical score is the driving force behind the progression of the film. In fact, music or the absence of music is a major indicator of foreshadowing, characterization, and conveyance of important messages. Most of the film is shot in Rick’s Café Americain, where Sam, the piano player, and other musicians are the center of attention. In order to accommodate the different moods and interactions in the scenes, a wide range and variety of music is employed, such as patriotic...
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