Literary Genre is the way the author builds or tells the story for the reader. The Literary genre of a text consists of the devices and techniques that impact on the reader’s emotions and thoughts.
Exploring the Literary Genre of ‘Casablanca’ by Michael Curtiz.
‘Casablanca’ is a melodrama; a war move that explores of the universal themes of love and sacrifice, but when the film was released in 1942, audiences viewed it as a political allegory about World War II.
In ‘Casablanca’, the story is told in the third person. What we see and hear on screen has been carefully selected and presented to us by director Michael Curtiz. However, during the film we also see events from different characters’ points of view. In ‘Casablanca’, the audience for the most part sees from the perspective of Rick and his experiences. Most audience members feel comfortable with this type of narration because they feel like they can relate to one character. Rick, for example, as the central character, is framed by the camera in particular ways, and events are often seen through his eyes. A brief series of shots introduces Rick and is designed to align the viewer’s consciousness to his. First his hand is seen signing an advance slip; the shot is positioned so that it appears that a (right-handed) person in the audience is reaching up to the screen to sign the slip. Then the camera pans up to his expressionless face as he drags on a cigarette; he is playing a solitary game of chess while monitoring activities in the casino. Moments later, when he confronts a pompous German who has been denied entry, his whole body emerges from the viewer’s space as he walks into the frame. Presumably the director, Michael Curtiz, felt the need positively to persuade viewers to identify with Rick because he is not immediately likeable or worthy of admiration, in contrast to resistance leader Victor Laszlo, a more attractive heroic character who consistently articulates anti-Nazi sentiments. Also, as the story centres on Rick’s redemption from unmediated self-interest to active involvement in the Allied cause, and most of what happens takes its logic from Rick’s point of view, Curtiz wanted to discourage the audience from having to make a choice between Rick and Laszlo.
Within the opening shots of ‘Casablanca’ one can see how it conforms to the basic principles of Classical Hollywood Narrative structure. At the film's beginning, the credits are displayed over a political map of Africa. In the first five minutes of footage, a few details are told to the audience in the form of a voice-over, explaining the Nazi takeover of Europe, the coming of World War II, and the political refugees fleeing Hitler. A trail is also drawn upon this map of the route these refugees take, leading to ‘Casablanca’, where the story is set. This narration allows for an easy following from its audience. There is nothing that they need to figure out themselves, it is simple and allows the story to develop.
One can establish that the story is beginning in a chronological order, showing what is happening within the world, and where it is leading, to allow the audience to establish the reasons for what is happening between the characters later within the film. However this chronological order is momentarily abandoned during the flashback to the time when Rick and his lover were together in France, before the war broke them apart. Even though this flashback presents a slight break in the chronological order of the Classical Hollywood form, it also allows the audience to grasp the story behind these two characters, putting the pieces of their love story together so that the audience is not too confused at why they are attracted to each other and have so much history. Therefore one could argue that it contributes to the Classical Hollywood Narrative, rather than breaking the typical conventions. The Chronological order of the film...
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