Stand up

Grim's post about the Incas reminded me that I hadn't been over to "The Bleat" in a long time.  I find his little daughter has grown up considerably.  Today they're discussing a recent film expert poll that places "Vertigo" over "Citizen Kane," but the consensus of many of his readers is that "Casablanca" is better.

It's not an art film, nor subtle.  Just a perfect thing of its kind.  It's the prodigal son: "for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; was lost, and is found." This is the first scene in which the surviving spark of humanity in Rick begins to flare up again. At the same time, you see in Ilsa's face why the story can't finish up with her leaving her husband. How many passionate love stories end with the lovers deciding to part rather than do wrong, and yet without painting them as tragic figures beaten down by their restrictive culture?

Notice how the tune of "Die Wacht am Rhein" meshes harmonically with "The Marseillaise," so that the conflict doesn't just sound like Charles Ives noise. Music, courage, and love. The Nazis banging away on the piano like robots are Jewish actors who had recently escaped Europe.


Grim said... see in Ilsa's face why the story can't finish up with her leaving her husband.

That's a good point.

What I've seen argued in the past is that Ilsa's loyalty is determined in the scene where Louie comes to arrest Victor, and she steps to Victor instinctively. But you're right: even at this point, much earlier in the film, it is clear that she loves him terribly.

One wonders if Rick dies in the war that he goes off to join. You have to hope that he did, and heroically, for his sake. War is the only thing that can make up for lost love: but if it ended and he survived, how powerful would be his longing to seek her out again.

Grim said...

By the way, those two songs -- the Watch of the Rhine, and La Marseillaise -- have a joint history. The French song was originally titled Chant de guerre pour l'Armee du Rhin, which is to say, 'War-song for the Army of the Rhine.' It was about French efforts to stand off invasions meant to end the Revolution; Napoleon went on to conquer the Rhine valley, and establish a confederation there as a sort-of buffer state between France and Germany.

After the fall of Napoleon, the French continued to assert their claim to the Rhine -- at least as far as the river. The German song was written about the time of the Franco-Prussian war, to spur German-speakers (there was still no Germany yet) to resist the efforts to put German-speaking people who lived on the western side of the Rhine under French authority.

So you might say the two songs are opposing songs: they're about a very old conflict that Americans are barely aware of, but that has provoked several wars -- including some we've been drawn into.

Texan99 said...

It's not just that she loves him, but that she admires how he leads the crowd in resistance, and knows she has to be a part of that. It's the same realization Rick has come to when he relinquishes her at the end: Laszlo needs her, and the world needs Laszlo. She does her duty.

I see them both going on to lead happy lives. It will easier for them to live with the loss of each other than with the remorse that would have eaten them both up. As Rick says, they had lost Paris, but now they have it back and can keep it.

Nicholas Darkwater said...

It's understandable -- two lovers, separated for whatever reason, are able many years later to reconcile their feelings, yet recognize that they have forged other lives to which they are responsible. Other people love them now, & they love them back. They can move on now without the doubt of before, & the former pain is now a wistful memory.