The Sound in Casablanca: Review

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Casablanca is a 1942 film directed by Michael Curtiz and set during world war two. In this essay I will anaylse the sound in a scene and how it creates meaning. Sound can be used to add mood or atmosphere to a film, sound has been added to movies in order to improve the film experience. These sounds are added to a film after the movie has been shot which tends to draw more attention to movie sound, that tell audiences how the director wants them to react to a given scene.

The scene starts with a conversation between Ilsa and Sam in Rick’s café where there is lots of chatter everywhere, and it’s well known as a place of socialising with different people and having fun. llsa tells Sam to play the film’s most memorable song, “As Time Goes By” but Sam didn’t want to hence she hums the song for Sam to play which tells us she is familiar with the song. The song reflects the love affair of Rick and Ilsa. 

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As Sam plays the piano for llsa, she looks away which could mean she remembers something that happened in the past and she’s shying away from it. We get a close up shot of llsa as the sound bridges, which could suggest the significance of the song to her feelings. During the piano music, llsa asks “where is Rick” which suggest she’s thinking about him, and the music reminds her past with him. The song seems to remind llsa of a time in her life where she was happy with Rick in Paris. The playing of the song as multiple connotations.

The diegetic sound Sam is playing on the piano makes llsa look sad as tears come into her eyes, suggesting she is remembering something that is really close to her hence she’s emotional. The audience is drawn into a heartwarming atmosphere as the music is harmonious. The tears in her eyes could imply that she hasn’t thought about her past for a while, which suggests that her past with Rick is a lot to take in, meaning it is upsetting. The close up of llsa changes the whole mood of the scene because earlier the scene is seen as a place of happiness, but the mood now is shown as heartbreaking which implies that llsa presence makes the whole place dull which would also have an effect on Rick because if something changes in his bar then he also changes.

Rick overhears the song being played and immediately angrily tells Sam to stop playing the song which indicates that the song signifies a past relationship between Rick and llsa and he doesn’t want to hear it. This also shows Rick’s character as an angry person and a person that always gets what he wants. As soon as Rick notices Ilsa, the song enters on an unexpected non- diegetic loud chord, that suits the expressions of shock, while underlying Rick and Ilsa’s inevitable feelings. 

The music is then drawn out into a dramatic instrumental as the characters contemplate their own overwhelming thoughts. This version of “As Time Goes By,” sets a romantic, but more importantly, a nostalgic tone. The richer and slower instrumental reflects on Rick and Ilsa’s past, and the deep love they felt for each other. Because the song is very slow and sad, we know it is meant to lead the viewers down a path of sorrow. 

Without the non-diegetic sound, we would see Rick and llsa just staring into each other’s eyes with no emotions, and it would be very difficult to assume on the emotions running between the couple. The song helps bring the scene to life and enhance our emotional perception of the situation.

When Rick, llsa, Victor and captain Renault all sit down the song disappears for a while. As they talk about Germans and Victor Lazlo’s work but as soon Rick turns towards Ilsa, the “As Time Goes” by motif returns as a variation in the light strings. And when Ilsa talks about 'the day the Germans marched in,' the music changes to a more ominous tone are with a high-pitched version of the “As Time Goes By-melody' as if the music both resonates the dangers of war and the love-affair. Show 

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