Casablanca as a Love Story of Two Hearts

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An important and very successful scene in the film is when Rick is upset as Ilsa left him behind to go with another man, even though they had planned to leave together due to the German army invading Paris. In this scene we see Rick sitting down drinking whiskey alone with the acception of his partner Sam. This is a key scene in the movie as it sets up Ricks character and sets up the main conflict of the movie. 

We as the viewer also get our first glimpse into Ricks emotions.Throughout the film, the director Michael Curtiz uses a number of aesthetic techniques to advance the narrative, deepen characterization, and illuminate the main theme in the scene. The main aesthetic techniques used in this scene by Curtiz are camera angles, lighting, and sound. The viewers experience of the scene is captivating as director Curtiz effectively uses an array of aesthetic techniques successfully.

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In this scene Curtiz uses only four shots which gives a minimalistic feeling to sene and gives the viewer a more raw focus on Ricks emotions. Curtiz opens the scene using a close shot of Rick pouring himself a glass of whiskey as he looks into the distance with a very dull and defeated expression. This close up instantly gives the viewer an insight into Rick's character and his emotions. 

The close shot used by Curtiz effectively emphasises Ricks emotions through his facial expressions and body language. We see him slouched over with his head slightly tilted down to further convey this theme of sadness. The camera then zooms out into a wide shot which is very compelling as we see the blank shadow filled background that contrasts with the brighter and more energetic prior scene. This shot also adds to the viewers understanding of Rick’s character as it highlights this theme of isolation and loss. 

Later in the scene we see Rick in the foreground with his partner Sam in the background on the piano. This shot helps us to see the important dialogue between the two characters and we are able to see both their expressions when interacting with one another. In the final shot of the scene, the Curtiz uses a close up on Rick’s face as Sam plays a song on the piano that reminds him of his love with Ilsa.

Another important aesthetic technique used by Curtiz in this scene is lighting. The room itself is dark and filled with shadows that adds to this theme of sadness that Rick is undergoing in this section of the film. The main source of light comes from the left hand side and illuminates Rick in his own spotlight. This lighting is natural and casts a shadow on most of Rick’s face and therefore emphasises his facial expressions and his overall mood. The use of the shadows on Rick’s face and in the room adds to the overall feeling and tone of the scene. 

Another ingenious way in which Curtiz uses lighting in this scene through the use of the rolling searchlight coming through the windows in the Nazi controlled town. The searchlight can be seen moving throughout the scene and highlighting Rick at different moments. The ominous light also connects to the larger theme of the film that the enemy is always watching, whilst also effectively working as a lighting effect in the scene. The light highlights Rick’s face at certain times in the scene and also casts shadows that convey Rick’s expressions more drastically.                      

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